- Click. I interviewed many self-employed people about how they chose their VA. Almost every single person said that the first thing they looked at was the VA’s personality: was there a “click” between the VA and the entrepreneur? You want someone who is friendly, enthusiastic, and detail-oriented, with extraordinary customer service and follow-up skills. He should be confident without being arrogant, articulate, a good listener, and comfortable to speak with.
- Professionalism. Does the VA answer her voicemails and emails in a timely manner? Does she answer her phone professionally? Does she put you on hold to take another call? If she promises to send you something, does she follow-up quickly? Does she treat you with respect? If she treats you well in your initial conversations, then it’s likely she’ll treat your customers well, too. (After you hire a VA, it never hurts to follow up with customers and ask them how your VA treated them.)
- Project Management. It also helps if the VA has good project management skills. Over time, you are going to be giving her a huge number of tasks and you need to know that she can juggle all these tasks, understanding priorities and deadlines, while also juggling her other clients’ needs.
- Skill Set. There are many, many tasks that you can delegate to your VA. It helps if you have a list of tasks you want your VA to perform, and make sure during the interview process that you review that list with a potential VA to determine if she can do all those tasks. Does she have the skills you need to do the work required?
- Technology Skills. Most self-employed people rely upon technology to help run their business, from QuickBooks, to websites, to Microsoft Word. Using technology can help your office run efficiently and save time and money. With this in mind, it’s critical that your new VA have excellent technical skills. Ask him what software products he knows how to use, and how well he knows them. Make sure your new VA uses the same software that you are using, so that you can share files. If you have a website, ask the VA if he knows how to do website maintenance (and ask how many websites he currently maintains). If you have technology associated with your website, like an online shopping cart, ask the VA if he knows how to maintain your specific shopping cart. Finally, if your VA needs new software to be compatible with your own systems, determine who is responsible for paying for this specialized software.
- Image. Take a look at the VA’s website. Are all the words spelled correctly? Is the grammar acceptable? Does it have a consistent and neat look? A VA who doesn’t pay attention to her own website probably won’t pay attention to your work either.
- Availability. Does the VA work full-time or part-time? Is he available evenings and weekends (if that’s when you work)? What time zone is the VA located in? While I have nothing against part-time VAs, I found I needed someone who was available during my full-time working hours.
- Experience. It’s important to determine how long the VA has been doing this type of work. While it’s helpful to know how long she has been a VA or an administrative assistant, it’s more important to learn how long she has done the tasks that you want her to do. She may have done them for a previous employer for many years. There’s always a bit of a learning curve as a VA learns your particular business, but you shouldn’t be paying for her to learn new skills unless they’re unique to you and your business.
- References. Can the VA give you a list of people whom you can contact who will tell you about working with him?
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