The Secret to Hiring a Virtual Assistant
A few words before I let you in on the secret to hiring a Virtual Assistant.
Hiring a virtual assistant can be scary. It doesn’t matter if this is the first member you’re adding to your team, or if it’s the 5th. What is important is that the individual you’re about to hire gets you, and I mean really gets you. It’s important that they understand your vision, your business and supports you through and through. It’s also important that you share some common interests – if not, it may be increasingly difficult to make a connection. And connection is what makes the world go round.
You’re probably thinking, I’m about to hire a virtual assistant, not a best friend Amy.
Think about it this way: let’s say you’re a 35 year old, single mom, who has been in business for 3 years. You work as a life coach and you’ve been thriving. You’ve realized that after working the grind for the past 3 years, you want more time to spend with your little one who isn’t getting any younger. You have a fantastic designer on retainer who gets your brand and the lines you love, and the shapes you don’t. You have a customer service representative that is speedy on the replies and nurtures your clients when they need to be held. And now you’re ready to hire a team manager/systems wizard, that superstar to round off your team and take you away from the back end of Mailchimp/Ontraport/Active Campaign or whatever other email marketing system that you love.
If you were going to hire a nanny, you aren’t going to hire someone who has never worked with children, hangs out on his/her phone 24 hours a day, and keeps forgetting the name of your child, you’re just not. You need to feel secure, that your baby is in excellent hands and knows how to handle a temper tantrum when that 5th tooth makes an appearance (I used to work as a nanny, can you tell?).
So why would you hire someone like this when your hiring a virtual assistant for your business? Another baby of yours, one that you’ve also shed blood, sweat and tears for.
And the truth of the matter is, if you’re looking to up-level, you need that right hand lady/lad by your side. Willing to stand in the fire with you.
But let’s get to it shall we?
It’s pretty common to know that you need to hire someone, but you’re not sure what their title is. I see it all the time in Facebook groups, posts like:
“Does someone exist that tells you how many blog posts you need to write a week, tells you when to schedule it, and bothers you until you complete each deadline? Runs after all my delinquent accounts AND knows how to schedule an email in Active Campaign? ”
“I’m looking for someone to make my onboarding process easier, right now I do everything manually, contract via hellosign, payment via paypal invoice, scheduling via acuity, email in Aweber, and it’s become too much – HELP!”
“Is there someone who will do all the to-dos that I need done except write content and coach my clients”
Ok so the last one is a stretch, but I promise you I’ve seen it.
By looking at these posts, we know that…
#1 would want an Online Business Manager (OBM from here on out)
#2 would most likely be looking for a systems architect/tech strategist that knows her/his way around a computer
#3 would need a VA, probably well versed in a variety of systems and platforms
My advice to you is, don’t get too caught up in hiring someone who calls themselves by these titles (although it’s a good reference).
SO many VAs (cough cough me), rejoice in using the term VA, even though we are so much more than just a VA. We’re not only a Virtual Assistant but we’re also a sales funnel expert, a product launch specialist, an organizational wizard, a customer service union, and a partner in crime.
Now before you write that phenomenal job posting that I know you are going to write, ask yourself these four helpful questions.
- How many hours a week are you looking for someone to help you with right now, and are you looking for person to grow as your grow?
- What is your budget?
- Are you looking for hourly, retainer or package?
- What are your non negotiables when hiring (i.e. must be in the same time zone, must have worked with life coaches before, must hate pineapple on pizza)
And now that you have your shiz figured out, it times to write that post explaining what you’re looking for, what characteristics your future VA must have, and all that fun stuff.
I’ll let that strategy up to you.
Fast forward to about 10 minutes when you have over 100 applications. (If you posted in a Facebook group, this time estimate is quite accurate).
Now you’re ready to interview, and I’m here to help you with the Ten Essential questions to ask during each interview.
- Where do you see yourself in a year?
a) This is especially necessary when hiring for a VA, and I’ll tell you why – – – Many VAs that I know, have their heart set on being coaches as soon as possible. Now don’t get me wrong, I am in the same boat, but I wasn’t when I first started out. And even still, I put the same amount (if not more) energy into my VA business than I do my other one.
b) It’s important to know this because this will impact your business. It’s fantastic to have goals – hell we ala l should – but if the person you are interviewing is blabbing on and on about how they are working as a freelancer until their coaching business kicks off – run for the hills. I have experience with this, so I know.
c) An added bonus is if this is asked early on, you can end the conversation early and move on to the next interview.
- Is this your full-time job?
- What hours and days are available?
- Are you available for rush work/emergency/weekend? And is there an added fee?
a) This is SUPER important, as entrepreneurs in an online world, technology upsets are inevitable. If your website goes down at 6pm on a Thursday you may need to send out a cry for help. Or maybe you’ve decided to launch a flash sale that goes on the weekend and you’re away for all of Saturday + need help with customer service. Or maybe you birth a brilliant idea last minute and need an hour of work done on the weekend. Bear in mind, us VAs have lives too and we’re not always available. But knowing that it is an option (or not), is always good info to have.
- Have you worked for other online entrepreneurs before?
- What is your email turn around?
- What is your favorite way to communicate?
- What is your favorite pizza? – OK, maybe not this, but remember earlier I said you need to create connection. Ask them about their family life, their personal life, something that shows you actually care about them as a human being and not a drone. Also, please ACTUALLY care about the person you’re hiring, it’s going to help you in the long run. And people can see through the fakeness if you’re just putting on a show. #truthbomb
- What is your biggest challenge?
- How many clients do you currently have?
a) I’m probably stepping on some toes with this question, even I felt a little flip in my stomach when I wrote it. Whenever I am asked this I cringe, but this is HUGE one, and one I can say really made me open my eyes for my last business. I used to be SO proud that I was juggling up to 25 clients at a time, I was raking in the money – but I was also killing myself and killing my body. You want someone who knows her/his boundaries and knows how to stay sane.
And now that you’ve completed your interview, it’s time to ask yourself these 4 questions:
- Do you like this person? Do they make you laugh? Can you see yourself grabbing a beer/ glass of wine/bottle of kombucha with them?
a) I know this sounds stupid, but believe me, we hire people we don’t like based strictly on their work experience and because we work in the online world, we think this won’t matter. Remember, regardless of seeing this person in person or not, you are going to be working closely with this individual for an extended period of time. Make sure you can stand them, it’ll only keep you sane.
- Would this individual be a model for future employees? OR( if hiring for the first time) Do you think he/she could step into a managerial role.
a) This question is clutch. Assuming everything goes according to plan, this VA ROCKS her shit and you love her to pieces and your business skyrockets, you’ll want her along for the ride. Do you think she’s someone who could transition into a team manager or a more specialized role?
- Is she/he in it for the long haul?
a) This goes with question #1 of the last section, you want someone who’s willing to stick around and grow with you, if you get the vibe they’re in it for the short term, kindly walk away.
- Do I have the money to pay them what they want?
a) A lot of VAs have an hourly/package rate, and let me tell you if you lowball them, then they are going to be very apprehensive about working with you. Sure, they still may do it, but they won’t be happy about it. And I speak from my own experience, in addition to many others. You need to meet your potential new VA where they are. They are stating their rate because this is what they need to make in order to live a comfortable life. Also, if you low ball them, then they are going to have to take on another client and will have less time and energy to focus on your work. Also, as someone who coaches VAs on how to be killer in the online space. I always tell them if a client low balls their rate, run for the hills. So, don’t be that person. This is the worst way to start a working relationship.