If you’ve been on the internet for five minutes, then you have likely spotted a lot of over promising and under delivering. Entrepreneurship is very sexy these days. Everyone is doing it, trying, or trying hard to look like it.
So how does a growing entrepreneur, on the upswing in their business, discern between fair, good, better, and best when seeking to staff or replace their virtual assistant? How can they be assured their VA or VA staffing service will produce the results they claim?
Since I’m an independent advanced-skilled VA, I can share what I think entrepreneurs should ask someone like me before hiring.
For those preferring to use a VA staffing agency to filter candidates for you, I recommend reading the Virtual Assistant Assistant’s 13 key questions business owners and new virtual assistants should ask VA staffing agencies.
10 Questions to Ask Your Virtual Assistant/
VA Staff Agency Before Hiring
1. What about this opportunity interests you the most? This question cuts right to the chase. It will, quickly, reveal any compatibility useful toward building an enjoyable work experience both for the VA and business owner. Who wants to work with a boss or assistant who is hard to enjoy? Nobody. Finding out why this opportunity is of interest to them will enable you to see if you want to ask any further questions.
2. Describe any relevant experiences that would add value to your work in this role? Or, what samples, references, or accomplishments relative to this role can you share with me? This is an obvious set of questions to ask. You want to see some evidence or strong potential that reveals they can, actually, perform what you are asking and at the level you expect. Think of this question as somewhat akin to buying a car. This is where you pop the hood and kick the tires. This is where you find out if they, too, are smoking what they are selling.
3. What was their previous role and why did they leave it? Another obvious investigative question. Anyone squeamish to share or suspiciously vague would be ruled out. Although, if they have the courage to admit they were fired, don’t be quick to judge and dismiss them. Ask further questions to get at the root of why as you may discover you have a diamond in the rough or a headache waiting to happen. First, an honest admission under such pressure is character revealing. Second, a lot of recruiters are hiring people too quickly and without insightfulness. And, a lot of candidates are taking jobs, too quickly, out of desperation. It is no secret a lot of folks are functioning (well or fairly) in jobs that do not match their strengths. And the worse case scenario is, it ends up coming out in the wash of a firing. I know because it happened to me. So probing is key if the answer to this question is not a simple one.
4. Describe any unrelated but transferable experiences/skill skills you bring that could make you more valuable in this role? This is a very good, but seldom asked, question–especially by traditional staffing recruiters. It reveals a lot. Immediately, it reveals the soft skill of reasoning and critical thinking. That is, it shows one’s ability to form relevant connections between two, seemingly, unrelated things.
It can also reveal if the candidate has done any homework to learn anything about your business so as to understand how their presence can improve it. For example, consider sales skills.
Sales may not be directly related to the daily tasks of a typical VA, but the critical thinking and client relationship management skills of sales sure are. A virtual assistant, who was once a top-producing salesperson in their past life, sure would come in handy to a busy entrepreneur who may need them to explain the benefits of a product or service to potential clients.
Such a savvy VA would come in handy to a busy business owner suffering from decision fatigue and desires someone able to think for them a few times a day or, perhaps, to draft a proposal.
I think traditional HR recruiters rule out a lot of potential rock star candidates because they don’t fit a precise profile pedigree–i.e., a certain degree or X years of industry experience.
In my opinion an entrepreneur, or company to some degree, should be very interested in how ALL of a candidate’s resume could impact their ROI–not just one part.
5. What other commitments do you have that could interfere with your responsibilities here? This question is important to allow both parties to discuss availability so as to set proper time and scope of work expectations. This is also the time to find out if they are single, married, married with children. This is important to know as you may need your VA to travel with you upon short notice.
6. Describe how are you continuing in education—(i.e., what is the latest course, book, tutorial, you took)? This is huge. Although impressive, we are not looking for candidates to have paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for classes at their local college or Udacity. But for example, have they researched and read through a “how to” blog post or watched a YouTube tutorial, lately? Did they take a course on Lynda or Udemy or get some certification?
The answer to this question could be used as a tiebreaker between two tight candidates or a candidate lacking some ideal skill level. If they demonstrate they are constantly learning, then they are likely to be an enthusiastic quick-study to anything you need them to do.
You may be pleasantly surprised in taking a chance on a candidate who demonstrates has a solid core of fundamental skills in addition to a can-do teachable attitude, enthusiasm for the work, and a lust for learning.
7. What hours of the day do you find yourself most productive? This question helps you gauge how the VA and owner can synchronize work times (i.e., within relevant time zones).
8. What type of environment do you find yourself most productive? This question would be relevant if the business owner wanted to contribute to co-working space for their VA. Or, if you wanted the candidate to work in office.
9. What are your short and long-term goals? This enables a business owner to determine if they have someone who will be a short or long-term player in their operation. Feel free, at this point, to communicate if you are looking for a long-term commitment.
10. What are your hobbies or passions? What do you enjoy? This question serves as another human connect point. It simply helps one determine if there are common interests or causes we can rally around together. In other words, have we found a VA who is easy to enjoy.
So there you have it. These are the questions I would want to know if I were looking to hire an independent VA without a VA staffing agency filtering through candidates for me. I hope you enjoyed the read and that it was insightful and proves useful to you in your VA search.
If you found it valuable, then please share it with your peers. Also, learn more about me and what I can do for you. Then, claim your coupon for my special offer, and schedule your FREE discovery call. As an additional BONUS OFFER anyone having read this far, I’d like to earn your business by offering you a test drive of my VA skills for FREE.99. 🙂
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