As with hiring any employee or contractor, you should interview the person you are going to work with to discover if he or she not only has the skill set you are looking for, but is a good personality match for you and your business as well.
But interviewing someone before you hire them can be a challenging task, especially if you’ve never done it before. What do you ask them? In this post, I hope to help you out with some suggestions.
Describe your experience handling [the task or skill set you are hiring for].
Some might just ask, “Do you have experience ….” but that doesn’t really tell you much. You could get a simple yes or no. What you’re really looking for here is not only if they have the skill and have applied it in real life, but if they go about implementing the skill in a manner that you are comfortable with and is compatible with your business mission and values.
What are your normal working hours?
You need to know if the virtual assistant will be reachable during times that you might need to reach them. You might also follow up this question with, “Are these hours flexible?” If the virtual assistant lives in different time zone than you, he or she may be willing to “open” a little earlier or “close” a little later for you, possibly with an adjustment of their rate.
How do you charge for your services?
With this question, you are not only trying to discover how much their services will cost you over all, but how they bill the time. Do they charge by project or by hour? If they charge by the hour, how do they break it down? By 15 minute increments (much like a temp agency does) or by the minute? You’ll also want to find out how often they will send an invoice and how soon the invoice payment is due.
How much time do you have available in your schedule for a new client?
Does the virtual assistant have the time necessary to meet your VA needs? You don’t want to be frustrated with incomplete projects because the VA didn’t have the time to accomplish your goals for the week.
What is your turn around response time like?
You want to know how soon to expect a response from your VA. If his or her answer doesn’t include a break down for email vs. telephone, follow up with that question.
What kind of office equipment and software to you have?
Depending on what you need your VA to do, you’ll need to know that he or she has the equipment needed to handle the job. Also, there might be compatibility issues if you’re on a Mac and your VA is on Windows.
Can you walk me through your relevant work history?
This not only will give you information about their skill set, but you’ll uncover clues to their work ethics and attitudes, as well.
Do you have references I can contact?
Depending on what you’ll need your virtual assistant to do, this question can be very important. There are just some things you’ll want an experienced pro to handle, while others can be easily done by a new VA just starting out.
Describe an experience with a client that you are most proud of.
This will help you see the areas in which the VA believes he or she really shines. This gives you clues as to what they will be most motivated to do well at.
Describe an experience with a client where you were challenged. How did you handle the situation?
How this question is answered can be very telling. Does the VA bad mouth the client? Or does he or she take responsibility for the situation? What the scenario handled in a manner that you can agree with?
Do you like what you do?
Listen for sincerity in the answer. This gives you a clue as to whether this person will have some longevity as a VA or not … something that could greatly impact your business should you hire this person.
Are you willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement?
Depending on your business and the level of interaction your VA will have with your business, the answer … and how easily the person answers it … can make or break the deal.