Step-By-Step Guide: Hiring a Virtual Assistant by Laura Licursi
As a virtual assistant agency, we are always recruiting talent to add to our team. The process of hiring a virtual assistant is being continually improved and tweaked as we grow. Our virtual assistants are vetted in a number of ways, from online assessments to a multi-part interview process and beyond.
But let’s face it, not everyone can (or wants to) utilize an agency when hiring a virtual assistant. Some people are do-it-yourselfers and want to handle the process themselves, and for some, the cost is too high. But there are many benefits of working with an agency:
- The vetting process is handled for you.
- Payments to the VA are handled by the agency.
- Back-up assistants are available if/when needed.
- The agency provides client service support.
These are some of the reasons many business owners choose to work through a virtual assistant agency instead of finding a freelance virtual assistant on their own. But for those that need an alternative, here are some “best practices” to follow to make the process easier.
You know the saying, hire slow, fire fast? Well, the same is true when hiring a virtual assistant. Most small business owners aren’t looking to fill several positions at one time, but having a process in place that you can “rinse and repeat” (and fine-tune when needed) as your business grows is your best bet to remain consistent and organized when looking for that special talent.
It’s important to plan your move. There are a few things to consider when hiring a virtual assistant:
- Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed and desperate for help. You’ll hire quickly in desperation, which is not ideal.
- Create processes to make the transition to a new person/position as easy as possible.
- Be sure to make room in your budget for your virtual assistant. I’ve seen people excited to get started with their virtual assistant, only to realize they didn’t have this position in their budget.
- Make time. Understand upfront that it takes time to go through the vetting, hiring, and training process.
- Have patience. When taking this on yourself, you’ll need patience through the process.
- Think about having applicants take a personality test (DiSC, iPersona, etc.), which you should take as well. It’s just as important to find a good match with personality as well as skill level and expertise. If you’re a visionary, you don’t want another visionary supporting you…you need someone who can implement your ideas and support your needs.
- Does the position require an assessment test? You can find several of these online, or create one to test their skill level and expertise based on the requirements you need to fill the position.
- What are your non-negotiables? Does this position require experience in specific software or skills, or just having a working knowledge of something similar? Are you hiring for personality and training for skill, or do you need an expert in this position?
- How many interviews are you going to schedule? Will you be the only one doing the interview, or do you want another team member or someone you trust to handle part of the interview process with you? Prepare a list of questions you feel are important to learn about the person and their knowledge.
- Talk about your core values during the interview process to ensure those you’re looking to hire align with your beliefs and values.
- Take the “gut” test. Did you have a good feeling about this person? Are you excited to add them to your team? If you don’t, trust your gut and go back to the drawing board.
- Once you decide on the right candidate, you should have an official onboarding process to welcome your new team member. Sometimes people don’t feel the need to do this with a part-time, remote worker, or don’t have this process in place on their first official “hire.” This is a very important part of the equation when you’re looking for a long-term relationship and a good start to your work together.
- This is the time to dig deep into your mission, vision, and value statements to be sure your new hire is on board with what you’re looking to accomplish and shares your beliefs and passions. They want and need to believe in you and your company.
- Promotional items. If you have promo items, share them! This is a great time to give your new team member a little welcome gift(s) to get them excited about working with you.
- Once your new hire is on board, be sure they feel like they’re part of your team. If this is your first time hiring a virtual assistant and your first team member, be sure they feel like an integral part of your company.
- Give them a company email address. This ensures that all of your correspondence stays within your system.
- Give them business cards, depending on their position. If they’re out and about, it’s nice for them to have a way to spread the word about your company.
- Have a weekly phone or video meeting. This is important for many reasons:
- Eliminates the “lost in translation” from too many emails/Slack messages.
- Keeps everyone on track and accountable.
- Builds trust.
- Builds your relationship. Each week you could tackle your meeting list and share one fun fact about each other.
Be a leader, not a micromanager
- People want to be led. It gives them a sense of purpose and makes it easy for them to connect with you and your vision.
- No one wants to be micromanaged. No one. If you’re a good leader, you should be able to share your processes, explain the desired outcome, and work from there.
- Give clear expectations and boundaries for someone to follow.
- I know, I know. The reason you’re hiring a virtual assistant is that you don’t have time. I get that. But in the beginning stages of your relationship, you need to be able to set time aside to go over the new tasks they’re taking on, ensure that everything is clear and that the process can easily be followed, and that they’re producing, and you’re receiving, the desired outcome. Spending more time training at the beginning will save you time at the end of having to “fix” something that has been continually done wrong because you didn’t take the time to review the work early on.
There’s a lot to consider when hiring a virtual assistant, especially for the first time. But putting your efforts in the right place with processes and systems for vetting, hiring, onboarding, and integrating with your team will help set you up for success when hiring a virtual assistant for your business!