Episode 345: Show Notes
As your business grows, you might find the need to hire a virtual assistant. How we approach hiring now is very different from what it used to be and getting someone who is the right fit takes a good portion of know-how. It’s a learning curve and a process for sure. The first step is to make sure that you actually need a person and that a well-functioning system or software application is not able to address the need, because that will naturally work out way cheaper!
When you’ve done your research and figured out that you absolutely do need a human to do the task, you might begin by asking for referrals. But how will you know if this is the right person for the job? Well, on this episode we share some of the greatest advice for hiring a virtual assistant – tips and tricks that you can apply to really any position you need to be filled. So be sure to tune for today’s Strategy Hour Podcast!
Outline a Proper Screening Process and Write a Clear Job Description
First off, never hire the first person you talk to and don’t broadcast the vacancy too far and wide, because you will have to filter through all those applications. Creating a proper filter and screening process will save you a lot of time and effort. Before you even begin the actual screening and interviewing process, make sure that you write a proper job description. Sometimes you think you know what you want the person to do, but you have to be very specific. Vagueness does not work here! You might really like a person, hire them and then give them too much to do, putting all sorts of random tasks on their plate. Having a broader, longer term vision of where you want your business to be will also help you find the right person. Also think about the culture of your business and the particular qualities the person should ideally have.
Have a Budget and Stick to It
This might be really hard if you’re not a numbers kind of person! You will no doubt be asking questions about the going rate for this and that and consider what you’d need to offer, and this is such a complex issue. And of course all these things matter, but first of all you need to know what you can afford. A good rule of thumb is to never exceed paying out more than 20% of your total revenue on a monthly basis to your team. This is also a good measure to find out if you’re over or understaffed. Remember, you don’t have to hire all people full time, some people could only give you a couple of hours a week. Working out an hourly rate that you can afford is important and technically you can hire someone at any rate! You could also look at hiring internationally.
How to Go About Finding the Right Candidate
A common misconception is that if you’re not doing straight referrals, you have to post the job on your website, social media or on job websites. We’ve done all of these. The great thing about promoting on your social channels is that you might find someone in your circle who is already aware of what it is that you do. But the moment you post on a job website, expect hundreds of responses that you are going to have to filter through and this is going to consume a lot of time. Another problem with advertising a vacancy in this way is that you’re getting a lot of irrelevant applications, people who are desperate for any job and not necessarily right for your business.
What About a Virtual Assistant?
There is another great approach if you’re wanting to hire people in your niche. Maybe you want to hire a mom or someone who just gets the industry and who already has a bit of experience in your field. There are two people we know who teach other people to be virtual assistants: Micala Quinn and Abbey Ashley. So when we needed to hire someone recently, they were the first two people we asked. They have forms that you can fill out, stipulating what you need from someone, what skills they should have, and then this info is escalated to all the VAs in their network – all of whom they themselves trained. And what makes this setup better than looking for specific referrals is that you can say beforehand what you are able to pay and then those who are interested can apply, instead of trying to get a referral to change their rate. The way that Micala trains is that candidates usually have a sort of portfolio that allows you to see what they are willing to do and what they have experience in.
Scheduling Interviews the Best Way
Once you’ve identified a group of potential candidates, it’s time to schedule interviews. You can reach out to each of them individually and let them know when you want to do interviews. If they’re interested in applying for the position, they can choose between the available time slots. Even though you might be working with people who are running their own small businesses, you want to make sure that you are in charge of this process and try to schedule everything in one day. The longer you stretch out the process, the harder it is to compare candidates. It is important to create a level playing field. Here is another really important aspect to consider when scheduling appointments: make it very clear what time zone you are in! We would also highly recommend a conference call of sorts even if you will mostly communicate via email or text messages. If they are in your area, definitely meet up for a coffee somewhere.
Good Questions to Ask Candidates
How did you end up where you are today?
What kinds of clients do you currently work with?
Do you have the time available to do X amount of hours per week?
What is your daytime availability, schedule restrictions and ideal schedule?
What type of work are you best at?
What are you most interested in learning more about?
What work do you prefer not to do?
What systems are you familiar with?
What is your favorite way to communicate?
What would you do if I gave you an assignment that you thought you understood but later realized you didn’t?
Tell me about a time when you were in a communication problem. How did you fix it?
What is the first thing you do when you’re working on an urgent deadline and your computer crashes?
What is a time your proactively addressed a client’s needs?
How quickly do you typically respond to client communication?
Who were your three most recent clients, what did you do for them and can I reach out to them?
What is your time zone and what is the rate you charge?
Some More Great Suggestions
Resist the temptation to make a hiring decision before interviewing all the other candidates. Always do a trial contract basis before hiring someone on a more permanent basis. For contractors, 30 days is a good guideline. When hiring an employee, look at a 60 or 90-day probation period. Just keep in mind that you always end up spending more on an employee, even if they work at the same rate as someone on a contract.
Outline a proper screening process and write a clear job description. [0:04:01.1]
Have a budget and stick to it. [0:07:36.1]
How to go about finding the right candidate. [0:13:29]
What about a virtual assistant? [0:17:00.1]
Scheduling interviews the best way. [0:26:38.1]
Good questions to ask candidates. [0:32:23.1]
Some more great suggestions. [0:46:13.1]