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25 Steps to Prepare for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

25 Steps to Prepare for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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Your Virtual Assistant Hiring Checklist

Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a VA

When you’re looking for a virtual assistant, it’s important to take some key steps to prepare yourself and your business so you can adjust quickly. Consider the following 25 things you can do to prepare for your virtual assistant.

Preparing to Hire a Virtual Assistant

taking work notes

Before hiring a virtual assistant or remote worker, make sure you:

1. Have Room in Your Budget
Do a quick analysis of your bookkeeping to ensure you have the funding to hire a VA. If so, you may skip to step 3. Not sure how much a virtual assistant will cost, it can start as low as $3 USD/hr if you hire in Asia, or $5 USD/hr if you hire in Latin America.

Learn more: How much should I expect to pay my virtual assistant?

2. Wait It Out and Make Room
If you don’t have the funding right now, it’s okay to keep funneling your money into things that will increase revenue to use for your virtual assistant. If you’re looking for the most affordable way to hire a VA, consider using and exploring a virtual assistant directory. Directories usually offer you the ability to hire VAs directly – without an agency as an intermediary, and they’re often very affordable ($49-$100/month to access)

3. Build Your To-Do Lists
In order to determine what tasks you could assign to a VA, make lists of things you don’t know how to do, things you don’t have time for and things you don’t want to do. Sort tasks into these three categories.

Learn More: Improve your Workflow – 11 Tasks you should outsource to a virtual assistant

4. Analyze Your Productivity
Which of the previous tasks could help your company be more productive? Which can wait until later? Spend some time prioritizing your tasks, and focus on the ones that you’re the most productive at, and consider outsourcing the rest to your future virtual assistant.

5. Narrow Down Relevant Tasks for Your VA
You don’t have to outsource everything right away; however, making a list of tasks your VA can perform prepares you for the next step on this list. The easiest way to get started is to open an Excel or Google Sheets document and write down your top 25-30 weekly tasks, and then focus on the top 10 most important ones you need help with right away.

6. Set an Initial Number of Hours for Your VA
If you have an idea regarding how many and what type of tasks he or she will perform, you can build an estimate of the hours’ requirement you’ll have. Initially, we recommend you to hire one or two virtual assistants for at least 2 weeks, for 10 hours a week. Work with one or both of them at the same time, and “Take them for a test run”. After they’ve worked with you for 2 weeks, you’ll have a much better idea of which VA you prefer, and whom you’d like to continue work with – or not.

7. List Qualities You Are Looking for in a Virtual Assistant
Consider what’s important to your business and the function the VA will perform. Think about your individual employee preferences, skills needed, and personality types you enjoy working with the most and then put aside some time to draft a “Job description” for the VA you’d like to hire. Writing it down is a huge step forward in the hiring process.

8. Decide in Which Language You Want Your VA to Communicate
Obviously, you need to be able to communicate with your VA, but hiring a bilingual VA can be a great way to reach an untapped market. For example, Virtual Latinos connects US businesses with virtual assistants and marketers from Latin America – who are fully bilingual in Spanish and English. Thus, your Latino VA could help you explore the Latino community and potential clients that live in the US.

9. Define an Area You’d Like Your VA to Hail From
VAs from locations on the other side of the globe, such as in India or the Philippines, can be great at meeting business needs but may be unavailable during the US business day. Virtual assistants from Mexico, Central America, and South America in the other hand, like and work in the same time zones as North America – so they’re readily available and much easier to reach if you, your business and your customers are in the US

10. Specify All Equipment and Programs Your VA Must Have
Will he or she need a smartphone? A DSL Internet connection? Skype? WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger? If working with a remote staff member or VA is something new to you, make sure you consider what will be the best way to communicate with your new virtual assistant on an everyday basis. Great communication is the key to a long-lasting and successful relationship with your VA.

11. Build a List of Company Expectations
These may be the same as the policy you provide your in-person staff. Or, the list may differ based on your VA’s eventual job description. Managing expectations, from both sides of the relationship, is super important. You want to make sure your VA knows exactly what you expect of him/her as part of his job, and you’ll also want your VA to know what to expect from you as part of your working relationship with them. This ensures they know when to reach out for help, how to communicate with you, and how to act in various situations.

signing documents in the office

Finding the Right Virtual Assistant

Once you’re ready to begin the hiring process, you’ll need to interview and choose a candidate. During this process, make sure you:

12. Identify a Source
You’ll need to find a source for a potential virtual assistant or remote worker candidates. If you’re looking for affordable, yet hand-picked assistants working in US-time zones, consider Virtual Latinos. You can utilize the company’s virtual assistants directory or request a personalized match using your written qualifications through a virtual assistant agency hiring services.

13. Prepare a Qualification Form or Test
There are thousands of potential VAs looking for remote jobs around the world, and you’ll need to find the most qualified VA for your specific needs. To find the right VA for you faster, spend some time writing a few simple questions you could use during the application or interview process to easily identify applicants that match the VA type you’re looking for.

14. Prepare a Simple Task and Test a Potential VA
Once you have your field narrowed by the qualifications you set earlier, ask your virtual assistant applicants to perform a simple task relevant to your business. By giving a VA a real task that you’d like them to complete, you’ll gain a lot of valuable insights into how they organize themselves, how they prioritize solving the task at hand and will be also able to evaluable how they deliver you the results of their work. A simple task completed will say a lot about your potential VA.

15. Prepare a Video Interview
If you are concerned about your VA’s command of the English language, set up a short virtual interview using video chat, and utilize questions that allow them to do most of the talking. Virtual assistants from Latin America usually have a much better English accent than VAs from India and the Philippines, and customers from the US seem to have a much better and pleasant time when they chat with them over the phone in English.

16. Perform a Video Interview
Pay careful attention to the candidate’s telephone, voice and language skills, particularly if you plan to have your VA perform phone inbound or outbound customer service. You can easily set up a video virtual meeting with a potential VA using Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom.

17. Hire a Virtual Assistant
After you interview a few assistant candidates, choose the best possible one. Remember that there’s usually no long-term commitment, as virtual assistants usually work as freelancers. So, don’t be afraid to hire someone for a week or two to try them out first. Alternatively, if you’ve found none that stand out, don’t be afraid to return to the application and search phases.

organizing tasks

Hiring a Virtual Assistant

After you’ve hired a VA, you still have a little work to do. Before your new VA can get to work, make sure you:

18. Finalize a Job Description
This is where you outline our expectations for the VA in this position. Be as clear as possible. Include information about their expected work schedule, systems to use, communication methods, deliverables, deadlines, any specific projects to be completed, etc.

19. Make Hiring Contingent on a Trial Period
This way, you have the luxury of determining whether or not your VA is a good fit. As mentioned earlier, we suggest working with a virtual assistant for at least two weeks before deciding whether to continue or not continue working with the virtual assistant.

20. Ensure Your VA Has the Necessary Tools
Before he or she begins work, you’ll need to make sure your VA has the correct equipment for the job. This may include the right project management software to keep a list of their tasks, a time management log, access to your CRM in order to find your contact’s information, access to your website’s CMS (WordPress, Joomla, etc), and any other system you might need them to use while working with you.

21. Determine an Initial Task List
Start small – begin with a few tasks your VA and you both feel comfortable outsourcing. Building trust is the most important item to establish at the beginning, so make sure you provide opportunities for your VA to earn your trust. The faster you can trust them, the faster you’ll feel comfortable assigning them more complex or sensitive tasks.

22. Be Clear
Effectively communicate exactly which tasks your VA will perform, as well as how much time you expect it to take. If you don’t know how much time a task may take, ask your VA to estimate the time they believe they’ll need, and ask them to log their work tasks on a system like HubStaff, TimeDoctor or Toggl so that you can easily go back to explore how much actual time it took your VA to complete each task.

23. Set Your S.O.P.’s
Standard operating procedures (SOPs), which are usually a set of instructions on how to complete a specific task, dictate how each and every task is to be completed. As you add more tasks to your VA’s workload, make sure you provide adequate S.O.P.’s for their completion. You can create simple SOPs by creating a Word or Google document with a numbered list of steps to follow to complete a specific task, such as the SOP for “How to publish a blog post on WordPress”

24. Provide Feedback
Feedback is especially important for the first few tasks and lets your VA know where to improve as well as what they’re doing right. Try to provide feedback every few days, or at least once a week. Initially, we recommend you to set up a short video call at the end of each week to review all the tasks your VA completed, and allow your VA to ask you questions. It’s also a good time to discuss the next weeks’ tasks you’d like them to work on – of course, assuming you’ll work with them for one more week.

25. Determine What Else to Delegate
If you choose to permanently hire your VA, analyze skills shown so far as well as your current workload and task list to determine what else to delegate. Delegating tasks to others is the key to gain more time, and eventually more freedom at work.

Virtual Latinos Is Here to Help

Our community of virtual assistants are located in Mexico, the Caribbean, and in Central and South American countries like Peru, El Salvador, Ecuador, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala, and reside in the same time zones you do. Reach out today to find out how to hire a virtual assistant through Virtual Latinos.

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