by Theresa B. – Get free updates of new post here.

With traditional businesses, hiring the right people takes scrutiny, interviews, and luck. Even at that, employers feel like they’ve hit the jackpot when they hire the perfect person. Hiring a virtual assistant, who you most likely will never meet… well… that takes even more. 

If you’ve been wearing both the management and business hat, then you’re probably nervous about handing your business over to a stranger. But you can’t do everything all by yourself forever. If you want your business to grow, you need to build a team. Hiring a virtual assistant can save your business up to 78% in operating costs every year. Your team starts with an assistant. 

The virtual assistant hiring process won’t seem so daunting once you have the right strategy. I know that it’s a lot easier for me now. While building my business, I’ve nearly perfected my hiring process. Of course, it often takes luck to find the right person at the right time. But if you follow this step-by-step guide, you won’t need luck to find the right virtual assistant for you. 

My 5-Step Virtual Assistant Hiring Process

1. Create a Job Description Over One Week

Virtual assistants often have a general understanding of what clients want from them. However, your job description has to be detailed and precise. It should clearly state every task which you plan to hand over. They are more likely to do a great job if they have a clear idea of your expectations. If you have specific methods or tools (e.g., Google Drive over Microsoft) that you prefer to work with, you should also let them know. Your choice candidate should be able to take over from you seamlessly. 

I would advise that you create the job description for a VA over one week. The small tasks you want to handover may not come to you at once. But as you go through your daily work routine, you’ll quickly pick on them. This way, you’re assured that every applicant can match their skills to your demands to know if they qualify or not. 

2. Decide on work hours and budget

The number of hours required from the VA will depend on the number of tasks you have for them. You may need a few hours a month or a few hours a day. Either way, you should let your candidates know the requirement upfront. Remember that they work with other clients on several schedules. This information will make it easier to allocate time for your work. 

When you have an idea of the required work hours, it also gets easier to set a budget. Most virtual assistants charge by the hour. In the next step, you’ll learn how you can find virtual assistants. When you find VAs who interest you, compare their rates to your budget. You should see an average that works for both parties. Your final budget will be determined by the average hourly cost plus the number of hours required. 

3. Use Business Network & Freelancing Platforms

One way to find the right person is by asking for referrals. Someone in your business network has most likely worked with/still works with a great VA. They could refer you to someone fit for your requirement, and save you the hassle of a manual search. 

If your network comes up empty, then you will have to do the grunt work yourself. One option is to use a freelancer platform. These websites have dedicated sections where people can find VAs with all types of skill sets. Some top-recommended options are Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer. You could also reach out to a virtual assistant company such as Time etc. and Prialto

There’s also the option of posting on a job board, which I personally do not recommend. Don’t get me wrong; there are potentially great VAs who also find work on job boards. Just be prepared to sift through hundreds of spammy emails that will flood your inbox. 

4. Interview Your Top Applicants

Create an excel sheet with links to the details of your top-promising candidates. If you used a freelancer website, simply lift a link of their profile into the spreadsheet. Reach out to your top choices and set up an interview. Ensure that you conduct the interview on either a voice or video call. An exception should only be made if they have a disability that could cause some difficulty. 

Beyond their work capabilities, you also want to get a hint of who they are as a person. Ask questions about previous issues they may have had, and how they handled it. For example, you could ask “What would you do if I gave you an assignment you don’t understand?”, “Or what would you do if I gave you a bunch of assignments and you are afraid you may not meet the deadline?”. Be wary of applicants who are overconfident in their abilities and refuse to ask questions. You want someone who will not damage your business to save their pride. 

5. Take a Test Period

Don’t commit too early. Ask for a (paid) probation period of one week to see how the working relationship goes. Some people look promising on paper but don’t execute well. If it doesn’t work out as well as you expected, don’t be afraid to look for another option. 

#Pro Tip: Documentation is important

When you find the right applicant, document everything. An official work agreement document is essential. It should clearly state all the terms which have been discussed; job expectations, work hours, deliverables, fee, non-disclosure rules, and confidentiality agreement.

You should also make it clear that all documents and information still belong to you and cannot be used for any purpose beyond your business. Remember that this person will have access to your sensitive business information. If needed, this document could serve as a legally-recognized agreement between both parties.

Ready to start your own virtual assistant hiring process? Go for it! If I didn’t provide enough details in a step that’s important to you, please leave a question in the comments section. I would be happy to respond as soon as I can.

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