Before we add a virtual or personal assistant to our books at ibLE they undertake both a personal and automated screening process. In layman’s terms, this means we give potential ibLErs a three pillar interview:
1) We interview them ourselves. After all, if we don’t know their strengths, weaknesses and desires how can we match them to the correct client?
2) We use a series of candidate testing processes and tasks that access skills like problem solving, working memory, mental agility and anything else that’s key to an awesome PA.
3) We often have them spend some time as a personal PA to Emma or Georgina, the ibLE Co-Founders, in order to really get to know what makes that person tick. Seeing how someone manages our own life or business admin is one of the easiest way to discover how they might manage someone else’s.
Of course, while this makes us experts in how and why to hire a VA, if you’re first-time hiring or looking to find the perfect VA you could probably use a bit of a cheat sheet.
Here, we take you through some of the most important questions to ask when hiring a virtual assistant.
1. Tell me about a relationship you have with a past client? Not only will this give you insight into their level of discretion but will also flag any pitfalls in their ability to retain a good relationship, even post-contract.
2. How do you prefer to communicate with clients? From Whatsapp, to email, iMessage and even Instagram, how you both communicate will be key to keeping the lines of communication clear.
3. If you were struggling with a task what would you do? This will help clarify how they face adversity and how likely you are to know about issues before they arise.
4. What are your least favourite tasks? Knowing early on, which tasks your VA may shrink from, will flag whether they are the right fit for the work you have to offer.
5. What would be your ideal tool stack? You don’t necessarily have to love all of the same tools, but if you’re both big fans of Trello or Google Docs already, this will show parity and will make the onboarding experience easier.
6. What hours do you usually work? VAs often have the freedom to set their own hours, but if you’re a night owl and your VA prefers to work 9-5, you may not be the best fit.
7. Have you ever worked with a client who didn’t give clear enough instructions? This is a good indicator of how much direction the VA will need to successfully complete tasks and will reduce the chances of either party becoming dissatisfied later down the line.
8. What signals a successful client relationship to you? A simpler version of this question is “Why did you become a VA?” but this flips it from personal choices (more time, freedom etc.) to how your potential assistant would measure professional success while working with you.
9. What are your goals for the future? This is very atypical of job interviews but is even more important when you want to invest in a relationship that will last.
10. If you needed a specific amount of information to successfully complete a task but your client was too busy to write all of it in an email what would you do? These types of situational questions are a great way to judge an assistant’s ability to communicate well and how easily they can manage upwards when working with CEOs or entrepreneurs who may be time-poor.
11. Is there anything that isn’t included in your daily or monthly rate? If you are paying a virtual assistant hourly this helps to flag any tasks that they see “outside of remit”. For example, while you might consider some basic SEO support on your website an appropriate task, some VAs may consider this a specialised task that requires additional support.
12. If we were starting from a blank canvas, what tools or processes would you suggest we could use? There is likely a stock response your potential VA could make, but this is also a great opportunity for them to discuss processes they have setup for other clients and more importantly why they suggested those processes. Ideally, you want someone who is proactive at thinking of ways to save you more time or to help your business to become more efficient.
13. Do you perform any personal tasks for your current clients? This helps you both to determine boundaries. For example, some VAs may consider dry cleaning and arranging children’s swimming lessons part-and-parcel whereas others prefer to only complete business-orientated tasks.
14. Tell me why you left your last full time role (or why you have always worked virtually if this is the case)? Many individuals prefer to work virtually and may have valid reasons for doing so, for example due to living in a remote area where there aren’t many physical job opportunities. However, the reasoning behind being a remote employee will help you to understand their motivations and considerations for being in this role.
15. Are there any times where you are completely unavailable? Finding any blindspots in your potential VA’s day will help you to plan accordingly. For example, if they are absolutely not available while doing a school run, or working for another client, you can seek an alternative or ensure you plan around those times.
If you’d like to be paired up with an ibLE PA (who is already screened and has the right skill set for you), register here.