Hiring virtual assistants is something that we have a lot of experience in doing at Magic. We have spent years interviewing thousands of candidates, and have our fair share of learnings. Through this, we have made what we think is a reliable process to hire and select candidates that go on to become high-performers.
Selecting and hiring your candidates
Hiring high-performing virtual assistants can be outlined into 3 parts:
- Finding the right talent
- Structuring interviews
- Extending offers and contracts
Read more: What is a remote virtual assistant?
Part 1: Finding the Right Talent
There are many qualifications to a high-performing VA, but the nature of the job varies immensely from business-to-business. Unless you are outsourcing operational tasks that require SOPs, you should focus on these 3 must-have skills:
- Written communication. You’ll be talking to a virtual assistant through chat 99% of the time, so having strong written communication skills is a non-negotiable. This goes beyond good grammar as well. Written communication also includes responding to messages in a timely manner, clarifying questions/instructions especially when they’re unclear, and being proactive in sending updates.
- Independent thinking skills. Whether you’re hiring a generalist or a specialist, you should strive to look for self-starters. At the start of the engagement, your virtual assistant will look to you to set directions, but they should grow into taking ownership of their responsibilities.
- Attention to detail. This is often overlooked primarily because it’s hard to spot during assessments. Attention to detail doesn’t mean that your virtual assistant will always produce error-free outputs. It means that they have the awareness to double check their work and do their own quality checks before putting something out.
Tip: Use Case Study Questions for Your Assessment
A common mistake during the interview process is to not prepare relevant questions beforehand. Too many hiring managers and business leaders rely on gut feel and vague interview questions that do not inform them about their candidates’ skills.
Case study questions are a great way to minimize that unreliability. By asking what would someone do in a real-life situation (meaning there’s not a lot of context, the goals might change, and the outcome is certain), you get a picture of their thought process.When creating case study questions, you can follow these guidelines:
- Use real situations from your business: Providing real business context allows you to visualize how your virtual assistant will respond on a real issue that happens in your business. The VA also gets the opportunity to see what possible work they may do once they get hired.
- Intentionally leave details out: A good way for you to assess how your candidates would react if they weren’t given the whole picture of the problem—Would they try and ask for more context? Would they jump straight to a solution? Would they ask for help?
- Ask for what they would do in the situation instead of finding exact answers: The point of the assessment is not to find what is the best answer. Instead, you should ask how the virtual assistant will solve the issue. More often than not, this will give you a clear picture of the candidate’s thought process.
Part 2: Structuring the Interview
Many companies keep their interviews unstructured, which is great for assessing the candidate’s attitude and personality but does not give insight about their skills. And this usually leads to poor hiring decisions i.e., hiring someone that does well in the interview but performs poorly on the job.
Here’s a suggested interview structure that you can try when you make a discovery call with a virtual assistant:
- Candidate introduces herself
- Interviewer introduces the company and the role
- If not done before the interview, use case study questions
- If done before the interview, ask about their thought process on their answers
- Give the virtual assistant the opportunity to ask questions about the role that are not in the job posting
- Describe how the role fits in the company’s structure. Is this a new role? Will the person be working alone or with the team? How does progression look like, if any?
- Compensation and Logistics
- Skip if the candidate does not meet the qualifications
- Discuss if compensation is through a fixed rate or an hourly rate
- If not mentioned in the job posting, confirm if the virtual assistant will work in a part-time or full-time role
An interview with this structure will take 45 minutes to an hour, and should be able to inform you whether the candidate is a good fit for your company.
Part 3: Extending offers and contracts
Whether you’re a new business or you’re hiring someone part-time or full-time, you must always have your candidate sign a contract. You might not need to do this however if you hire them through a platform like Magic.
Your virtual assistant contract should include:
- Definition of the role
- Nature of the role (contract or full-time employment)
- List of responsibilities
- Hiring manager
- Compensation schedule and rate
- Allowances and benefits (if any)
- Evaluation period
- Intellectual property definition
- Contract termination clause