Crash Course in Hiring a Virtual Assistant: Interview Questions to Ask

Hiring a virtual assistant can free your time and make you more money. The process is a bit tedious but it doesn't have to suck.

Picture coming to work after an amazing weekend filled with plenty of fun and plenty of R&R only to discover that all of your to-dos are DONE.

All the errands you had to run—DONE.

All the admin tasks you were dreading—DONE.

All the tedious charts and analyses and spreadsheets—DONE, DONE and DONE.

This is not out of the realm for your business, believe it or not. In fact, it’s how some of the most successful real estate companies function every single day.

If tasks like this were off of your list for good, wouldn’t you have much more time to work on your business instead of in your business?

The smartest, most strategic and most effective way to grow your business is to get out from under it—in other words, to not do everything on your own. If you’re running around doing mundane tasks with little impact and no direct tie to dollars, you’re wasting your time. As the business owner, you must focus on the interactive, strategic, and creative aspects of your work – the high leverage activities that only YOU can do.

Everything else should be delegated.

The first step? Get a virtual assistant and start outsourcing your daily tasks. It’s a growing trend with real estate investors and entrepreneurs, and with good cause. Hiring a qualified, hands-on VA can increase your productivity by 10x, 100x or more. Really, who wouldn’t want that? And, more importantly, who couldn’t benefit from that?

So what’s keeping many business owners from pulling the trigger?

Most people have trouble handling the hiring process.

And I get it—I wasn’t always an A+ hiring manager. Who you hire can have an enormous impact on your business, for better or for worse. Bringing the wrong person on board can have detrimental effects on your business now and in the future. Trusting someone who’s under qualified or has malicious intent can stall—or even destroy—your business. While that’s scary, it’s no reason to bury your head in the sand and stay a solopreneur forever.

The smart thing to do? Become a better hiring manager. And don’t worry, it’s actually a lot easier than it sounds.

VA Interview Tips

You can save yourself endless stress and confusion by hiring the right person right off the bat. And that starts with a successful interview.

Conducting a great interview is crucial to filling your team with power players. By conducting a rock solid interview and asking the right questions at the right time, you’ll be better positioned to lock down the best talent in less time. Start here:

1. Have a comfortable conversation – The best interviews are anything but rigid Q&As. Instead, focus on having an actual conversation with a candidate so you can see what they’re really like and how you’ll do working together on a daily basis. Is the conversation smooth and seamless? Belabored? Tense? High energy? Really think about it and see if you can picture that person in-step with you daily. These communication skills are crucial when selecting a VA.

2. Study their resume – A candidate’s resume is a treasure trove of information and intel. Be sure you always go through resumes thoroughly before an interview, separating the steak from the sizzle—some resumes are so packed it’s hard to tell what’s really important and what’s fluff. Having that foundation will help you feel the person out and prepare any specific questions you may have about their background.

3. Don’t stick to a rigid agenda – It’s important to have specific questions in mind, but don’t feel like you have to stick to your agenda to the letter. If things get out of order, go with the flow and see what happens next.

4. Ask open-ended questions – Starting with “how” or “why” questions are great ways to get the conversation going. There’s very little you’ll ever get from yes/no questions. Open-ended questions, on the other hand, will leave you with great insights as well as a glimpse of how well candidates can express and articulate themselves.

5. Turn off all distractions – This should go without saying but, too often, people seem to forget. Turn off your phone, your email and anything else that could distract you. Those incoming texts or constant beeping from your email can make it hard to focus on the candidate. Blocking out the distractions will make them feel valued and, more importantly, will set the tone for a great professional relationship.

6.Keep an eye on the clock – Try not to let your interview go over 30 minutes. You should be able to gather all the information you need in 15 – 30 minutes or so.

7. Have fun! If you’re stressed it will show in the interview and, chances are, you won’t leave a great mark on the candidate. Being nervous is OK, but be sure you aren’t veering into stressed out or anxious water. Take a breath and go.

VA Interview Questions to Ask

So what to ask? Start with these questions, designed to give you the right insights on every VA candidate. How did you end up where you are today? This is a great question because there aren’t any right or wrong answers. This is an opportunity to see how the candidate communicates and how well they think on their feet. Can they explain their professional life in a positive and succinct way? Are they serious about their career? Can they explain any gaps in employment? How they react is very telling, so be sure you’re 100% tuned in.

Who is your role model, and why?

This question will give you an idea of how the candidate views themselves both personally and professionally. The role model they select will show you what behaviors and attributes that they have or aspire to have.

What do you like to do in your free time?

How someone spends their free time can tell you a lot about who they are as a person. Do they prefer to be alone, spend time with friends, watch movies, or read? There is no right or wrong answer to this question either but, in many cases, this gives you a sense of how they’ll fit in with you and the team.

What things do you NOT like to do?

It may be difficult to get an honest answer to this question but it’s important to be persistent—this answer is extremely valuable to the hiring process. Business owners often assume people who have specific roles are happy with those positions. But not everyone loves everything about their role. Be sure you know who you are and who you aren’t hiring early on—and this is a great way to take that temperature.

Tell me about a project or accomplishment that was particularly significant to you/your career. This question will allow the candidate to highlight themselves and their accomplishments in a specific, case-based way. Speaking in generalities can only get you so far. Experience and examples of professional work can give you concrete evidence into how well a candidate will perform in your role. The candidate’s accomplishments, as well as their ability to clearly communicate them, will tell you an incredible amount about who they are professionally.

If you had to pick one superpower what would it be? [OR] What is your favorite animal?

Asking one of these questions can reveal a lot about your candidate’s value systems and their view of the world. One of the best responses from a potential candidate? “A duck. Calm on the surface and working like mad under the water!” Perfect!

When have you been the most satisfied?

This question shines a very bright light on the candidate’s character, and if he or she will be a good fit for your organization. This will also tell you what the candidate believes they will need to be successful.

Tell me about a time when things didn’t go your way. What was the issue and how was it resolved?

In business, problems are inevitable. People are hired in jobs to solve problems and add value. Your virtual assistant position is no different. Pay close attention to the answer to this question. This will tell you how good a candidate is at identifying a problem, creating a plan of action, and executing. Answers tend to fall into three basic categories: Blame, Self-Depreciation, or Opportunity for Growth.

Hiring the right people is a crucial part of growing your business. Every great entrepreneur and business owner has an outstanding team behind them. If you want to join their ranks, you need a rockstar team, too. NOW is THE TIME to hire the perfect VA to help you drive your business to the next level—and beyond. Start with these best practices and pro interviews questions and, if you get stumped, we can help. Get in touch for a free consultation and to get your business on the path to VA success. We’ve got your back.

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