Today, many entrepreneurs are hiring virtual assistants from the Philippines (OnlineJobs.ph) and other offshore destinations, where one can hire a full time assistant with great English and internet skills for between $500 to $1,000 per month.
While you can ask other basic questions during the process of interviewing virtual assistants, here are some of the key questions where you can get the most value from, and reasons why you should ask them.
Questions To Ask a Potential VA
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
This will allow you to learn more about the VA on a personal level and it can reveal things you might not find out with other questions.
One VA you may interview may choose to tell you that he or she runs his/her own small business on the side, which is valuable information if you like hiring entrepreneurs.
Note that answers like “I like to party, get wildly drunk, and disappear for three days at a time,” is not a good answer to this question, simply because they might skip work or not come back at all.
What type of work are you best at? What are you most interested in learning more about? What are you not good at? What work do you prefer not to do?
The last thing you want to do is assign someone into a role that isn’t the right fit, and if you only talk about what you need done, and the VA is desperate for a job, he or she is going to tell you what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear.
Ask these questions as early in the process as possible to make sure the VA has only minimal information about what you are looking for.
You’re working on an urgent deadline and your computer crashes, or your internet goes down. What’s the first thing you do?
Most VAs will answer that they have backups, or that they will find a cafe, but the correct answer is that the first thing they will do is notify you of the problem, and that it might impact their work temporarily.
One of the most frequent complaints you may hear from other employers is “My VA disappeared for three days, I had no idea what was going on, and then it turned out her internet had gone down. I was pulling my hair out! Why didn’t she find a way to tell me?!”
So telling them to notify you, any way they can if something happens, may be the best.
What is your favorite way to communicate?
If you are an email guy and your business partner is a phone guy. You should be open to working with a VA either way.
However, you would probably lean towards hiring a VA whose preferred method of communication is email. Choose what works for you.
If I gave you a bunch of assignments, and you realized you couldn’t get them all done fast enough to meet deadlines, what would you do?
Nobody wants to tell the boss that they won’t have an assignment done on time, and yet that’s exactly what I want.
If a VA will tell you that he doesn’t think he’ll get the job done on time, but then he does, you are going to be happy.
If he tells you that he will get it done on time, but then he doesn’t, then of course, you’ll be unhappy. The VA who understands this is the kind of VA you want to work with.
What tools do you use in your work? What are some of your favorites?
Whatever the tools are that you use, it’s a plus if your VA already uses those tools, whether it’s Google docs, Basecamp, Asana, Freshbooks, or any others.
But rather than listing all your favorite tools and asking “Do you know how to use these?” make it an open-ended question, and see if you get some matches.
How quickly do you typically respond to emails?
The right answer is not “Immediately,” because nobody can always answer emails immediately.
However, the answer “usually immediately during working hours, unless I’m focused on a project for my employer, but always within 24 hours, Monday through Friday,” is a great answer.
What are your schedule restrictions? What is your preferred schedule?
Some VAs are single parents taking care of children, some like to work at night, some like to work starting early in the morning.
Whatever the case is, it’s important to discuss it to make sure it works for you.
Why do you want to work for me?
Know the reason why they want to be part of your business.
Is it because of the pay? “a bigger pay” may not be enough reason. Simply because, if someone else lures them out with more, they tend to jump ship easily.
Is it just because of career advancement? or, do they just want a change in the working environment?
If they come to you because of this, then you can expect that they will probably last 2-3 years until they feel the same issue and leave.
Is it because their bosses weren’t treating them well and that makes them emotionally stressed?
Is there no clear guidance in the company training or some of their work expectations that wasn’t provided?
Look for a stronger motivation and reassure the staff of what you can provide for them. Your assessment should help you find staff who can stay with you for 5 years plus.
This is how you can predict how long they can work for you and what kind of commitment they’re willing to give you.
Can you tell me about your experience as a virtual assistant?
Asking an open-ended question like this one will help you assess your potential virtual assistant’s communication skills.
Since both of you will not be working with each other face-to-face, good communication is crucial.
Let your candidate(s) tell you why they decided to be a virtual assistant, how many years have they been doing this, what do they like the most about it, etc.
Take work off your plate by hiring a virtual assistant who can help maximize your business.
For your next interview, ask about the VA’s expertise to ensure it matches your needs. Finally, get to know them on a personal level to see if they can fit into your current team’s culture.
Like with any sort of hiring, it’s vital to take the process seriously and respect everyone involved – that’s the best way to ensure you end up with someone who’s truly working from the same page as you.
In the Philippines, there are so many VA hiring options that you’re spoilt for choice. All the more reason to try and find the perfect fit.
Rei is a resident Author on Mango & Coffee. Specializing in business development online. Well-versed in article research and creation. A long-time independent worker, assisting clients with administrative work, business development projects, social media, marketing, content writing and other tasks.