Before I began writing this I, of course, had to create the title. I decided to leave it as is, but my first thought was why are we calling this an interview? Shouldn’t it be considered a business meeting or discovery call? VA’s are contractors and/or self-employed business owners. Basically, this meeting is two businesses discussing how they can help each other. Maybe that’s a blog for later! Let’s get to the point…
Hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) can be tough and time-consuming especially if you’ve never hired one before. How do you know what questions to ask? How do you determine if the VA is the right fit? Can you truly identify skillsets from a resume and a phone conversation or video call? You definitely don’t want to spend too much of your precious time on this endeavor. The first thing you think of is to ask about their skills and why they feel they are a good fit for the position. Great start, and that is important. But sometimes these interviews get off track and important questions are avoided or forgotten. And, as a VA, I also know that it can be difficult to find a client you know you’ll work well with and we need to know if a client’s needs are something we feel confident we can support. I have listed some important discussion points for both sides. Hopefully, this will ensure the client’s needs are met and the VA can truly support those needs.
- Schedules and availability: this is one of the most important topics to discuss. Think time zones, total hours of work per week, client’s hours, and VA work hours. You don’t want to hire a VA for 10 hours per week if you really need 15 or 20, or even worse, only 5. VA’s often have multiple clients they support each week or month. Most VA’s also work varying schedules and sometimes around family commitments. On the other side, the VA should be careful to accept work from a client who works 75 hours a week and needs work performed outside of normal business hours or on the weekend if that is not something he/she can handle. If both sides are upfront about what they can and can’t do, then an agreement on the subject should be easy.
- Pain points: As a business owner/company you have certain pain points that you need to identify prior to an interview. What are your top 3 pain points? How quickly do you need the tasks accomplished? Will there be a possible purchase of software or materials involved? Why are they pain points (time, budget, manpower etc.)? If you are a VA and your potential client doesn’t address pain points, ensure you do!
- Communication: Communication should be addressed by both parties during the interview process. One party may prefer telephone or video chat, while the other prefers instant messaging and email which could create an issue in the future. VA’s may have different emails to monitor for other clients or use a totally different platform for their communication. Discussing preferences for communication upfront may save you both time and confusion or frustration once the support begins.
- Software and Hardware: There are so many different platforms utilized by businesses and VA’s today, it is best to be on the same page. Both parties should address this subject right away. Think Google Workspace vs Office 365, Mac vs PC, CRM tools, Project Management, and marketing platforms (like Mailchimp). If you aren’t utilizing the same software or hardware, how much effort or expense will it take to be on the same page? If you use Microsoft for instance, there is usually a fee involved to add someone to your plan so they can have access to your software applications. Maybe the candidate already has an Outlook ID. A good VA will have great experience using many tools and can easily adapt to different software. VA’s need to ask what tools a business utilizes prior to accepting a position and be honest about their knowledge of the software or ability to learn it.
- Office Location: I think it’s fair to say that at least 95% of all VA’s work from home. The question all businesses should be asking a potential VA is what their “office” looks like (no I don’t mean is it messy or neat, although I suppose that could tell a bit about your candidate 😊) and what office tools they have access to. Do you have a specific office area? What is your internet speed? How old is your laptop or PC? Do you have access to a quiet workspace? Do you have a printer, scanner, monitors, filing cabinets, etc. There are so many VA’s that are new to the scene. Ensure your VA has high speed internet, anti-virus software, and good access to all the right tools. Personally, I have a full set up at my home, along with an office I can go to in case I lose internet access or power.
- IDs and Passwords: If you’ve never hired a VA before, you might not realize how difficult it can be to remotely get your VA set up. You want them to have full access instantly. Not so fast Jack! Your information is private, and ID and password sharing is not recommended (we all know it happens though). If you aren’t utilizing a password manager, you should be! There are many platforms out there and many offer free packages or low monthly fee plans. Why not ask your potential VA for ideas, or if you are utilizing a password manager, the candidate needs to either have experience with it, or quickly be able to learn it. VA’s I highly recommend discussing this right up front with a potential client. And take time to learn about a few of the best rated options. There are always free tutorials, YouTube videos or LinkedIn learning courses.
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