Hiring is hard. Hiring the wrong person is worse. Many business owners would like hire a virtual assistant, but don’t even know where to start.
Where do you post the job?
How do you filter applicants?
Who is in charge of scheduling everything?
What do you ask on an interview?
How do you onboard somebody properly to make them the most effective as possible?
If your head is spinning already, you’re not alone…
Let’s talk about how to hire a virtual assistant — the right way.
Here are 9 steps to take to hire the a great virtual assistant on the first try.
How To Hire A Virtual Assistant
1. Hire For Fit
You can teach someone skills. What you can’t teach is personality, drive, ambition, and overall chemistry and cultural fit with either yourself or your existing team.
Hire a virtual assistant first, and then teach them the skills necessary to succeed in the role.
Don’t hire skills and try to teach them to be people.
You can’t change people 🙂
It’s common at this point for business owners to put up a defense…
“I don’t have time to train somebody!”
Okay, fair — but have you done an audit of your time? How much time are you losing every month by continuing to do this task?
It might take you a couple hours, or even a couple days to get someone up to speed — but once they’re up to speed, you get all that time back in the future.
If it takes you 1 hour a day to do a task but you can spend 10 hours to train somebody (2 hours a day for 1 week), that means that at the end of their first month at full speed you’ll have saved 30 hours.
That’s a 3x ROI already.
Stop saying you don’t have the time. You can’t afford not to make the time.
2. Judge A Book By It’s Cover
People will say you shouldn’t judge people too harshly on a first impression…
I tend to disagree.
It is human nature that has been engrained within us for centuries to judge a book by it’s cover. Why should hiring be any different? Your first instinct and gut feeling is something to be trusted in business. Hiring is no exception to this.
If someone can’t be bothered to have good lighting and put on a decent shirt for a Zoom interview…
That says everything you need to know about them.
Even worse is when a potential applicant takes an interview from the street while on a walk, or while in a noisy restaurant with kids screaming in the background.
That is what they chose to let you have as the first impression.
Someone who could not even be bothered to sit down in a quiet place for a job interview.
I understand that the world has changed greatly in the last couple of years. Remote jobs became much more common. Offices became outdated. People got used to not even bothering to put on pants because their webcam only showed the top half of their body.
You need to know what your limits are.
Me, personally — I don’t like when candidates are walking around or don’t have a stable connection. It shows a lack of attention to detail that I refuse to have around my company — those are non-negotiable in my book. Your may be willing to let this slide (I’d personally be more lenient on this for “creative” types like a video editor than I would, say, an inbox manager).
Whatever your criteria is for a first impression, don’t budge on it.
3. Have A Specific Role When Hiring A Virtual Assistant
Jack of all trades and master of none is a famous phrase when it comes time to hire a virtual assistant.
People want to have somebody who can do everything.
And I’m not saying it can’t be done. You, as the business owner, likely wear multiple hats. Expecting some people on your team to do the same is not unrealistic, especially when starting out.
But you need to be a reasonable person about this.
For example, expecting a graphic designer to manage your email and calendar like an executive assistant is not a reasonable thing to ask for in a hire.
On the flip side of that, asking your Executive Assistant to whip together a few basic graphics in a pinch in a program like Canva is not an unrealistic ask.
Asking a video editor to start talking and managing clients is probably not a reasonable ask and well outside their scope of work.
Asking your Social Media Manager to do some basic video editing (like adding subtitles to shorts/reels) is not an unrealistic ask.
You understand what I’m saying?
It all depends on who you are asking.
Some positions have an element of “figure it out” to it. Others are very niche and specific.
4. Have Structured Interviews To Hire A Virtual Assistant
You should be A/B/C/D testing.
Your interviews should ask the same questions and follow the same general structure.
A little deviation is fine and expected, but you should aim to give the same “test” to each interview.
In addition to this…
You should be having back-to-back-to-back-to-back interviews whenever possible.
All of them on the same day in a nice, concise block of time. If you interview Candidate 1 on Monday, then Candidate 3 on Tuesday, then Candidates 3 and 4 on Friday — guess what, by the time Friday rolls around you’ll have forgotten most everything about 1 and 2.
If possible, try to have all your interviews together.
If it’s not possible, record them so you have the full interview to watch back later.
Final note about this:
If you have a large gap of time between interviews, you should 100% call the first interviews back for a round 2 if they were good and you’re considering them. In sales, it often helps to be the last call for a prospect. Maybe they’re shopping around and deciding who to go with. Always better to be the last one in this case. Hiring is no different. By the time you’re finished with interviews…you’ll be ready to be finished. You’ll be ready to just hire someone because they were last and they were good. Don’t do this.
Call back the originals and give them another shot.
You might find this video helpful:
5. Thinking On Their Toes
Make them think on their toes in an interview, not just recite their skills and resume.
Ask questions that make them open up and give much more than just a 1-word answer (which does you no good whatsoever.
If they answer questions with simple “Yes” or “No” answers — red flag. It’s an interview, their chance to show off and impress you.
Nothing drives me crazier than asking a question that is designed to give somebody a chance to show off…
Example: “What social media platform are you best at?”
What have you done on the platform that would impress me as a business owner? How can you put more money in my pocket with your Instagram skills?
In addition, you can put candidates through what I like to call a…
“Fire Drill Scenario” — The Best Way To Test And Hire A Virtual Assistant
This is where you take them through a live situation of an experience they might encounter on the job.
For example, if you’re hiring an Executive Assistant, you could put ask them to find you flights for a certain destination and a certain date.
In this case, they would do this live — on the interview — with you watching (or you can say you won’t watch and you’ll go make a cup of coffee and just turn your camera/microphone off and watch them work).
If you’re hiring for a Client Success Manager, you could present them a couple of recent situations with problematic clients and ask them to craft responses on the spot.
If you’re hiring an Inbox Manager, ask them to come up with some responses on the spot.
The purpose for doing it live and on a call is so that they don’t get hours to think about something. You’ll be much more likely to tell if someone has “it” if you put them on the spot with a bit of pressure and see how they perform.
6. Don’t Be Cheap
Hiring the wrong person will cost you 30% of their annual salary.
That means if you hire a virtual assistant for $2,000/month, their annual salary is $24,000/year. This means if you get the wrong one, keep them for a few months, and then it’s just not working…
You’ve essentially cost your business $8,000.
Plus now you have the emotional and mental toil of having to start over with someone new and get them up to speed.
This is the point where some business owners give up and just say, “Forget it, I’ll just do it all myself…”, which usually means they go back to doing tasks that they could easily outsource for $10/hour.
In terms of hiring virtual assistants, it doesn’t take much to not be cheap. If the superior hire wants $900 a month and the “cheap” one is wanting $800 — you take the better one every time. Think about that. You are fretting over $100 in terms of investing in someone who is going to be a large part of your business and it’s growth.
I don’t like to get too cheesy with things…
But really, really think about that.
Do you think so little of yourself and your business that you’re going to skimp out on a measly $100?
Do you think that sends the right message to yourself in terms of your business mindset?
You can also add money on to your virtual assistant’s salary with incentive-based bonuses, which leads me to my next point…
7. Give Performance Bonuses
Give them a slice of the pie.
The team here at HireUA gets performance-based bonuses:
- Lead Gen and Inbox Managers get a bonus for booked calls
- Sales Reps get a commission on signed deals (obvious one)
- Client Success Managers and Recruiters get a performance bonus based on finished placements
Aligns perfectly with the goal and direct revenue of the company.
Find something in your business that will directly impact your revenue if you had more of it. Calls, sales, retention, whatever it is. Find a way to tie it to the position you’re hiring for, and give someone an incentive to execute that.
This makes the virtual assistant you’ve hired more invested in their role, gives them a financial incentive, and also shows that there is potential for growth and opportunity in this position.
Which leads us to point #8 — you might need to sell the best on you…
8. Give Great Candidates A Great Offer
Make it nearly impossible for them to say no to it.
Got someone who is the right fit? You need to sell THEM on YOU.
You need to sell them on the job. The opportunity. The vision. Everything that makes you tick.
They shouldn’t be taking a job because they just need a job, they should be sold on what you’re doing and be genuinely enthusiastic about it.
Figure out what makes them tick.
- Is it money? See point #7 above.
- Is it the work? Give them the chance to shine.
- Is it opportunity? How and when can they move up?
9. Remember: Hiring A Virtual Assistant Is Inexpensive
Which means that giving them a GREAT offer is still going to cost you a lot less than it would to hire somebody locally.
More than likely, unless you are being very cheap, you are giving somebody a great opportunity. That $1,000 that doesn’t buy you a cup of coffee and a sandwich in your own country might cover 2 months of living expenses for somebody else. Maybe they live at home. Maybe they’re a stay-at-home mom that just needs something part-time to help make ends meet.
You won’t know people’s stories until you talk to them.
And as a final note…
You shouldn’t hesitate to ask those kind of personal questions on an interview.
Get to know your people and take a genuine interest in them — and there are no limits to the heights you can reach when building your team.
In Conclusion: Hiring A Virtual Assistant
In summary, to hire the right person, you should follow the below tips and tricks.
1. Hire for fit, because you can teach skills but you can’t teach chemistry and all the other stuff that matters.
2. Judge the cover, because someone who chooses to not represent themselves in the best way possible is showing you who they are. Despite the cultural changes of Zoom and online meetings, this does not mean people should have zero standards.
3. Be specific about the role you’re hiring.
4. Structure interviews in a way that allows you to compare candidates well. Don’t do them on different days if possible.
5. Test people to see how well they can think on their toes. Give a fire drill scenario when appropriate.
6. Don’t be cheap, you get what you pay for.
7. Pay for performance if possible — financial incentives are something that everybody likes. Nobody works for free — you don’t either, do you?
8. Make a good offer to good candidates.
9. Remember that you are giving somebody a good opportunity. Plain and simple.
That wraps up the 9 tips to hire a virtual assistant.
If you have any questions, leave a comment below.
Hope you enjoyed the article.
Founder | HireUA
PS: If you’re ready to book a call to hire a virtual assistant, just click here.