How to Hire a Virtual Assistant – Actionable Tips to Hire and Manage VAs

Last updated October 8, 2020 written by Tetiana

If you are looking to hire a virtual assistant, there are more options than ever before. There are also plenty of pitfalls, and business owners need to be careful before they take the plunge in the hiring process and take on a virtual assistant. This guide is designed to help you to find a virtual assistant, and also to onboard new staff and communicate with them effectively. It’s amazing how often crossed wires can get in the way of a new hire being effective.

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Define The Role (and Recruit Accordingly)

A clear job description is essential. Just because a virtual assistant can be a relatively simple hiring process, doesn't mean you shouldn't think about what the role will bring to the business, and how new team members will fit in.

Many of the business owners and managers who are looking to recruit virtual assistants have relatively simple requirements. Administrative tasks, customer support, call-handling, and some of the more supportive roles in business are often handled by virtual assistants. Having an on-demand virtual receptionist could be the ideal hire. With Nexa, you can even pay per minute rather than having to have an hourly rate or paying for a full-time employee.

When it is time to define the virtual assistant role you are recruiting for, it is important to establish if specific skills are needed. If you require someone to do graphic design or create content for your social media or blog, it could be that you have to recruit for these skills. This useful guide will help you to ensure you have covered all the bases and specific tasks you will need your new position.

The end result of defining the role of your VA (virtual assistant) should be a job description. This means a document that can be used to clearly communicate your expectations of them, but also what is required within your business. Without specific roles an defined daily tasks, a virtual assistant is a lot less likely to be effective.

Cast The Recruitment Net

Once again, you can see why it is an efficient option for many companies to go directly to a call handling service. Recruiting a good VA is not easy. This is one of the most challenging aspects of the process.

Where you recruit will depend on what type of employee you are looking for, and where you wish to recruit. If you want to recruit full time or part time staff in North America then you might use traditional job sites. A lot of smaller businesses are looking to recruit freelance staff, with less commitment and responsibilities as their full-time employer. This means that you can employ on a shorter-term basis and take on staff just for one specific project, for instance.

There are a number of freelance job platforms out there for finding virtual assistants, but finding someone that is a good fit can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Even after you hire people, they might let you down. Remote jobs are notorious for people not being as reliable. It's better if you assess their skills and have face-to-face meetings beforehand. However, Nexa can take a lot of the hassle out of your recruitment. We even have industry-specific services, meaning that instead of taking a chance with a general VA having to deal with calls for a medical business, our trained, fully-managed staff can take on the job.

Interview (If You Are Hiring Directly)

If you have decided that you are going to hire directly rather than working with virtual assistant services, you need to consider the interview process. This can be a drawn-out procedure that is quite difficult, and especially frustrating if the role you have created is actually fairly simple.

What sort of things will the interview help you to establish? Naturally, it gives you the chance to ask questions about an individual's skillset, but it also lets you gauge more about the person you are interviewing. For instance, if you are recruiting in a remote location you will want to know if the candidate's grasp of English is strong enough for answering calls, for instance. Generally, the interview process is about establishing whether someone is a good fit for your team. From a distance, this can be incredibly difficult.

Interviewing is also an opportunity to explain your expectations. It can act as a filter for candidates who aren't enthusiastic about the project you have for them. The Harvard Business Review offers more tips on a successful interview process. These tips include:

  • Having clear questions defined before the interview.
  • Making the job sound appealing.
  • Not involving too many people.
  • Making the candidate feal relatively at-ease so you can properly judge their potential.

Although interviewing is almost always essential for recruitment, it can be a difficult process. A lot of small business owners are not used to interviewing people and this might make it more difficult for them, too. If your needs relate to customer service then there is every chance a simple call answering service such as Nexa can help. Our call handlers can also provide data entry services and flex to the needs of your business, and whichever CRM you use. Read more about Nexa's process here.

Consider Managing Your Online Personal Assistant

You can recruit perfectly, but if you don't have the right management, you might be paying a full-time employee and simply not getting the most out of them. That's one of the many reasons why "on demand" services such as a live answering service can be so popular.

You won't be able to manage your online personal assistant in person, of course. So this means you need to think clearly about communication. If you have hired abroad, you might even need to think about time zones.

It all depends on the structure of your business, and your existing staff. It could be the case that you already have wonderful project management, and that you use a CRM, with clearly-defined roles and jobs. This can make it so much easier when bringing onboard any sort of virtual assistant. Assigning them tasks, and ensuring that they clearly understand what is expected from them on each and every day.

Some of the easiest ways to ensure that you are managing your virtual staff properly include:

  • Holding weekly meetings outlining targets and discussing any specific needs for that week.
  • Ensuring your staff know who they can contact with any questions.
  • Having scripts and processes for answering phone calls or customer emails.
  • Using a CRM to explain and monitor all of the different tasks they will be undertaking.

The management of staff might be relatively simple for your business, depending on what you are asking your VAs to do. Some data entry or simple administrative tasks might be repetitive and allow for simple instructions, but the more complex your tasks, the more clear your instructions will need to be. A new hire will need time to get up to scratch in many instances.

How are you going to ensure clarity when assigning tasks? What is the new "chain of command" in your business? Do you have one member of staff managing your virtual assistant? All of these are relevant to how your team is going to function when you bring onboard someone new, even if they are on the other side of the world.

Conclusion

Knowing how to hire a virtual assistant can save a lot of money and hassle. It can ensure that your business keeps operating at the high standards you have set even when you take on new staff. Doing your research and creating a recruitment strategy might be the solution for you, or it could be easier to outsource to a live answering service, knowing that staff are trained and managed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are All Virtual Assistants Based Abroad?

A lot of people think of virtual assistants as a form of outsourcing. Actually, many business owners work with virtual assistants and virtual receptionists based in the same country, just not in the same office. Nexa’s team of call answering staff are based in the USA.

How Many Hours A Week Do Virtual Assistants Work?

It can be hard to work out how much administrative support you need. Each virtual assistant’s contract may be different, and some may even be flexible, so they work more time for some weeks than others. If you aren’t sure if you will need an assistant all week, your best option may be a flexible plan where you can pay only for the time you use the service.

What Skills Do Virtual Assistants Need?

This should be based on the sort of tasks you will want them to do. Experience with data entry and administrative work might be essential in some scenarios. If you want a virtual assistant to do mainly call handling then you might focus more on their organizational skills, but also their ability to talk to customers. In this scenario, the argument for using staff or agencies who are already trained is very strong.

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