So, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and hire a virtual assistant. That’s a great move if you’re looking for someone to help complete those mundane tasks that just can’t be automated. Not to mention, hiring a virtual assistant is affordable and will save you big in terms of opportunity cost.
Now that you have decided to hire a virtual assistant, you may be wondering where to start. In other words, with all the options on the market (and there are plenty), how do you know when you’ve found a great virtual assistant to hire?
This article will present all the things you should look for when hiring a virtual assistant. If, during your interview process, your candidate meets the following qualifications and possesses the following skills, you’ll know you’re making a great choice.
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What Qualifications Should A Virtual Assistant Have?
Before diving into the skills a virtual assistant should have, let’s talk about qualifications. If a virtual assistant doesn’t meet the following qualifications, it doesn’t matter how skilled they are, they won’t be a great fit.
Virtual assistants do a lot of work that may require handling sensitive information. This can include anything from email addresses of your top clients to credit card numbers for booking hotel rooms and flights.
When hiring someone online to be your virtual assistant, it’s important they demonstrate the importance of honesty during the interview process. Ask them how they handle sensitive information and call references to properly vet them before making a hire.
Even though you are hiring a virtual assistant to handle mundane tasks, those mundane tasks are important. Hiring someone reliable will ensure you don’t have to ever worry about tasks getting completed on time, correctly, and the way you ask for the task to be completed.
If you don’t hire someone reliable, you’ll end up doing extra work yourself and having a virtual assistant may be more of a headache than it’s worth.
Attention to Detail
A great virtual assistant will have an astute attention to detail. Virtual assistants often interact with clients, handle important booking tasks, and answer emails. You want someone who takes the extra time to look for and correct mistakes, and someone who goes the extra mile to make sure every detail is sorted out and right.
Of course, every human makes little mistakes here and there, but when you hire someone who is accurate with the details, you won’t have to go back and recheck work.
Virtual assistants typically get paid by the hour. As such, you want someone who is well trained, experienced, and knows how to work quickly. The more experience your virtual assistant has, the quicker they will be able to complete tasks. This will help you maximize your time and get more bang for your buck out of your virtual assistant.
When hiring a virtual assistant, look for someone who is resourceful. Someone who can overcome problems with innovation and creativity will be a great addition to your team.
Additionally, a resourceful virtual assistant will meet problems head on, solve them, and then keep the information at bay in case that problem arises again. Out of all the qualities of a virtual assistant, resourcefulness is a must.
If your clients are interacting with your virtual assistant, it’s vital the virtual assistant is kind. In a way, your virtual assistant is kind of like your “storefront,” or the first perception your client gets of your company. If your virtual assistant is rude, it is a poor reflection on you and your brand. Find someone who prioritizes people and knows how to navigate conflicts with kindness.
Ability to Multitask
There are several professions where multitasking is not a great idea. However, virtual assistant is not one of them. Virtual assistants need to be able to schedule, handle clients, organize tasks, and manage multiple clients often at the same time. The ability to multitask will help a virtual assistant keep the ball rolling and the company moving forward.
An added bonus is a virtual assistant that knows how to use productivity tools, task management, and time management software in their work. This will increase rates of productivity, eliminate errors, and keep things running smoothly.
Handles Challenges Well
The ability to work well under pressure is another positive quality of a good virtual assistant. Clients typically only think about their individual problems, rather than all of the tasks a virtual assistant is juggling. A virtual assistant that can keep their cool, treat that one client like they really are their only priority, and accomplish difficult tasks under pressure is a keeper.
You need to be able to count on your virtual assistant to follow through and follow up on tasks you assign them and with clients. If they aren’t dependable, then they will make mistakes, clients will feel neglected, and/or you may end up doing the work yourself. When hiring a virtual assistant, ask questions that give you insight into how dependable they are.
Full of Ideas
A virtual assistant that gets things done is great and just what you need. However, how much better would it be if you hired someone who is always bringing new ideas on how to increase productivity?
Maybe they offer insight into a better tool to manage tasks. Perhaps they have an idea about how to handle a specific client situation. Maybe they have ideas on how to grow your business. A virtual assistant that brings new ideas to the table is someone you want to have around forever.
Good at Time Management
As mentioned before, virtual assistants have a lot of work on their plate. As such, it’s vital a virtual assistant is good at time management. They need to be able to juggle several tasks and ensure they get done day-in and day-out.
A good virtual assistant will naturally be good with time management, but a better virtual assistant will be open to using a time management software. They will also review time management reporting tools to see how they can increase productivity overall.
What Skills Should a Virtual Assistant Possess?
Now that we have discussed what qualifications a virtual assistant should have, let’s talk about the necessary skills a virtual assistant should possess. If you’ve found someone who meets all of your qualifications, the next step is to make sure they have the right skills.
Top-Notch Communication Skills
Virtual assistants are required to communicate with you and your clients on the daily. This means, they must have great natural communication skills. This includes knowing how to talk to people as well as being able to communicate a message via phone call, text, chat, or email. When hiring a virtual assistant, make sure they can communicate well using all these various formats.
Communication also extends to presenting ideas on how to stay in touch. This may include a weekly phone call, updates every Monday, or any unique ideas they have that help you touch base.
Since you are hiring an assistant to work virtually, they must have great computer skills. This includes the ability to type well. A virtual assistant should be able to at least type 30 WPM in English.
They should also be good at navigating the internet and familiar with top project management and task management software programs. They should also be familiar with top scheduling calendars, email programs, video conferencing and chat tools, and any programs that are specific to your industry.
Basic Accounting Skills
A virtual assistant doesn’t need to be an accountant. However, they do need to have basic accounting skills. This can include anything from knowing how to use simple accounting software, being aware of what clients pay their bills on time and which clients they have to nag for payments, and how to handle and monitor expenses.
Again, you’ll want to hire an accountant to handle things like taxes and budgets, but a virtual assistant with basic accounting skills will provide valuable in ways you could never have imagined.
Internet Research Skills
A virtual assistant that knows how to navigate the internet is worth their weight in gold. Many virtual assistants have the tools they know how to use, but an awesome virtual assistant will branch out and find the best tools, the best deals, and new approaches to completing work.
When hiring a virtual assistant, ask about their internet research skills and for an example of how they have saved a previous client money or time by finding a new resource on the internet.
Not only should a virtual assistant be able to type at least 30 WPM, but they should also have great writing skills. They will be interacting with clients via chat and email and often in charge of writing documents or typing up memos. To accomplish these tasks, they need to have a good command of language, a large English vocabulary, and a decent understanding of English grammar.
If a virtual assistant isn’t a decent writer, don’t hire them.
Hiring virtual assistants from India, the Philippines, or other countries is growing in popularity, and it’s with good reason. It’s much more affordable to hire a virtual assistant out of one of these countries. In fact, you can often get a good virtual assistant to handle mundane tasks for you for next to nothing.
However, even if you can hire someone for dirt cheap, it’s not valuable if they don’t have a high level of English proficiency. After all, you’ll need to be able to communicate with them on the phone, via video chat, via email, and more. Not to mention, your clients will need to interact with your virtual assistant.
Before hiring them, ask them to take an online English proficiency exam and conduct an interview over the phone. This way, you can ensure you find a good match, that you understand each other well, and that they have great communication skills in English.
Familiarity With Top Project Management Tools
If you want to run your business operations smoothly, then you’ll use a top project management program. You may use something like Asana, Basecamp, Trello, or CoSchedule, for example. A great virtual assistant will have excellent proficiency in some of these tools or at least the ability to navigate and quickly learn whichever project management tool your firm uses.
When you interview your potential virtual assistant, ask them what project management tools they already know how to use, which ones they are familiar with on a basic level, and how they go about learning to navigate a new system.
Planning and Scheduling Skills
One of the most important tasks of a virtual assistant is planning and managing tasks and schedules. You’ll need a virtual assistant who just knows how to make things work and can maximize your time to fit more work into an already tight schedule.
A good virtual assistant will do this quickly and efficiently. They will also be able to use top tools, set automated schedule notifications, and reorganize your schedule at the drop of a hat.
Basic Social Media Skills
Chances are, you’ll hire a social media manager to handle your social media accounts, but the time may come when your virtual assistant may need to pop into your Twitter account and fix something or spruce up your LinkedIn account. As such, your virtual assistant should know the basics of the top social media platform you use. Again, this isn’t an absolute must, but it is an added bonus.
Hiring a virtual assistant is a great way to increase your productivity and focus on the work that really matters. There are several virtual assistants available and they range in skill and qualifications. To make sure you hire a good fit, review the skills and qualifications mentioned above, determine which ones are a priority for you, and then make sure the virtual assistant you hire possesses the skills and qualifications that you find necessary.
Lauren Soucy is the VP of Marketing for Time Doctor, the world’s leading time tracking and productivity software. She has 15+ years of experience in marketing at fast-paced companies. Her first passion is SEO, she can’t start her day without coffee, and she enjoys spending time at the beach with her two boys and her husband.