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The Right Fit: Finding the Right Virtual Assistant for You

As your business grows one of the many tasks you’ll have is to find employees to do the work you can’t anymore. By this we don’t mean the less important work but the work you can afford to delegate so that you can focus on the higher level operations of your business. What many agencies turn to is hiring VA’s (Virtual Assistants) from overseas. The reason being is not that they don’t want to hire American employees but more so that you may not have $3K to shell out every month and $600 a month can fit within your budget. Hiring someone full-time in the States for $600 a month is just, illegal. The question posed by many is, how can I find the perfect VA for me? And what do I do after I hire them? We have had great successes and some failures in our experience with VA’s from overseas, here’s what we learned.

What is a VA?

A virtual assistant is generally self-employed and provides professional administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients remotely from a home office. Because virtual assistants are independent contractors rather than employees, clients are not responsible for any employee-related taxes, insurance or benefits, except in the context that those indirect expenses are included in the VA’s fees.

The Interview Process

Without a doubt the most important step in choosing a VA is the interview process. Don’t be afraid to be picky. When you hire a VA, this is someone you are trusting to get work done efficiently and to be productive without direct supervision. So, a few things you want to learn during the interview. 

Do they have a backup internet? Many times, if you are hiring overseas, you are dealing with areas with higher chances of flooding or heavy rain which can result in the loss of power. So, you want to make sure they are prepared with backup internet in case they may be out for a few days. 

Are they fluent in your language? You don’t want the language barrier to impede any productivity or tasks from getting done, so test their understanding of your language to make sure you’ll be able to communicate effectively. You can try telling them a joke or have them tell you a joke they found funny or ask them extracurricular questions like their favorite sports teams or movies to get a better understanding of who they are. If they don’t know how to answer these simpler questions then maybe it’s best to go with someone who does.

Are they talkers or listeners? What I mean by this is, during the interview, do they typically provide short, mostly 1-to-4-word answers? Or do they like to explain their answers and engage in conversation? Typically, the best VA will be the one who enjoys engaging in conversation. Why? Because they’re most likely the ones who will ask questions and come to you with any concerns or ideas. They’re the ones who will be more active and engaging during any meetings as well.

Lay Out the Terms of the Job. The Hours you need them to work, the actual job description, the pay structure, the salary and the method of payment all should be fully understood from the very beginning before moving on. Otherwise, you may find yourself without a VA should they decide they don’t agree to those terms and now you have to start the search all over again.

Be Yourself. One of the worst mistakes people make when interviewing a VA is trying to make it seem like their job offer is the only job offer out there and that these VAs would be lucky to get hired. No, most VA’s have tons of offers from agency owners doing the same work as you. So be yourself and make them feel comfortable. You don’t want your employees fearing you. You’ll notice that the more they enjoy working for you the better their work ethic will be.

What’s Next?

Establish a culture of open communication and trust. Let your VA’s in on what your tasks are for the week and how they can help you. When teaching them how to do a task, be as detailed and open as possible. Don’t leave any unanswered questions and take your time explaining. 

Be Responsive. During the first few weeks you’ll receive tons of questions. Maybe they forgot how to do a task you already explained. Be prompt in your responses. Don’t let time pass before something gets answered and let them know when you’ll be away so they know not to expect a response until you get back. 

Be Reassuring. When they are doing a good job, reassure them of it! If they mess up, be patient and correct them with tact. They will appreciate it more than you know and their quality of work will improve vastly.

Take time to understand their culture. There are major differences in the way people work overseas as opposed to here in the States. Lifestyles are different. The best thing you can do is try to learn and understand how their culture works, it will allow them to feel more comfortable and you’ll gain a bigger appreciation for the work they do.

It’s important to understand that unfortunately many VAs haven’t worked under the greatest conditions or treated fairly simply because they are overseas. It’s why understanding that treating them with the basic human respect you expect to get in return is crucial to finding the right VA for you. Having a great VA can help you focus on other aspects of growing your business and will teach you valuable lessons about establishing a culture you can be proud of.

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