5 Questions You should Ask when Hiring a Virtual Assistant

virtual assitant
Virtual Assistant (VA)
Small business owners – if you are working in the same business as I do, you will – sooner or later – get used to working with independent contract workers, such as virtual assistants (VAs). Here are some questions you should ask when hiring a virtual assistant…

According to this article by Young Entrepreneur Council published on MSN’s Business on Main, there are certain traits a quality VA should have: He/she must be fluent in English, reliable and – above all – referred by the people you trust.

There are loads of benefits in hiring such talented group of people. The best benefits of all is the fact that a VA can help you leverage your resources; you can allocate your time to attend crucial business issues, such as strategise and plan for your small business.

I work with several VAs in my online entrepreneurial journey. I hire VAs to help me with working on important-but-boring tasks: Social media marketing, directory submissions, content creations, design works, and many more.

Yes, I hire several VAs simply because I need each of them to do focused tasks, instead of giving them a bag full of various unrelated tasks. Sure, there are VAs who can do it all; but when you are yet to discover one, you should consider working with specialised virtual assistants.

In short, I want my VA to understand my business; so, it’s important to work with VAs who are doing what you are doing. Otherwise, you will need plenty of time explaining what your VA should do and pose yourself a risk of getting lower-than-expected quality of work.

Referring to the VA articles I mentioned above and from my own experience, here are the questions you should ask when hiring a VA:

1. Can you write/speak fluent English?

This is a basic question, but very important. Working with VAs whose first language is not English is challenging, as there are possibilities that you will have a mis-communication with your VA. So, you should expect a high standard of spoken and written English from the International VAs you work with.

My first language is not English – so, I do need my VAs to write/speak fluent English so they can understand me well and correct me when I’m wrong.

What’s more, I need my VAs to be able to create content for me. It’s important for me to have content written in not only grammatically-correct manner but also in contextually-correct ways – with the right choice of words.

2. Are you doing what I am doing?

I am an online entrepreneur; I build sites, buy/sell sites, promote my sites to search engines and social media, and plenty of things I need to do to get my sites rank and exposed well.

I need my VA to understand what’s needed to get a site buzzed around the web. In general, I need my VA to understand SEO/link building. So, for example, if I hire a VA to do web design job for me, I need him/her to understand that I want the design to accommodate a piece of content near the top to maximise the on-site SEO. Hiring a design VA without proper knowledge of on-site SEO will waste my time and his/hers.

3. Can you communicate using the way I want?

A VA is typically offering you a great deal of flexibility in communication methods – Skype, chat, emails, SMS, etc. However, you need to make sure that your VA is able to communicate with your preferred methods of communication.

I prefer to communicate with my VAs via emails. So I need for them to respond in timely manner and to make sure that my emails are delivered into their inbox’ white-list.

4. What are your working hours?

I need my VAs to let me know their working hours. There are VAs who doesn’t have a fixed working hour – too many this shouts “flexible” but to me this shout “undependable.”

I need to know their working hours so I am able to expect them to communicate well during the working hours. This is particularly important if you are working with International VAs with different timezones.

5. Will you send me detailed reports?

Reports are important to me to measure the effectiveness of my VAs – so, I expect my VAs to update me with detailed reports: what they are doing, the outcomes of what they do so far, when they do the tasks, etc.

I hired a VA in the past with poor reporting. I end up wasting time checking what he was doing and whether he was doing it according to my instructions. My bad – I didn’t ask for a sample of the reporting he did; so, be sure you ask for reporting samples and inquire whether the VA can create you customised reports.

For more tips on hiring a VA, please read How do I hire a virtual assistant?.

A contest!

Thanks for reading this rather long article! Here’s a “reward” for you – a contest:

Want my personal list of trusted VAs? Please leave your comment on this article below… my choice of interesting comments will get the list :) This contest is good until the end of August 2011 – good luck!

Ivan Widjaya
Virtual assistants are my life savers

Disclaimer: I receive incentives to share my views on this particular blog post, but all of the opinions are my own. My blog is a part of an online influencer network for Business on Main.