9 Things to Watch for When Interviewing a VA

Finding the right VA can be plain ol’ Challenging, and that’s with a capital “C”… but we’ve got some inside tips that will help make the process easier for you.

Let’s say you aren’t really a phone — let’s update that reference a bit — a video conference kind of person. Maybe you usually prefer to exchange email or typed messages. I get it. But skipping a one-on-one interview with a prospective Virtual Assistant is a huge mistake.

Hiring a VA should have the same weight as if you were hiring an actual employee, and you need to put in your full effort to find the right person. It’s not just about getting some work done; it’s about partnering with someone who is the right fit to join your team and who will contribute to your personal success.  

Whenever I am interviewing a new VA, there are certain things I watch out for. Five of these things are negative, what I call Red Lights. The other four are great, and I call them Green Lights. Ideally, you want nothing but green lights during an interview!


They Know Nothing About You

One of the most important qualities that a VA can show you is that they’re detail oriented. They’re going to need to be able to juggle multiple clients and projects, keeping everything straight to get things done on time. So what does it say about them if they enter into your scheduled meeting knowing zero about you or your business?

It means that they haven’t done their homework. I wouldn’t expect a VA to know everything about my business right off the bat, but I would expect them to have gone onto my website and taken note of my services and gotten to know my general “personality.” That’s the bare minimum.

A great VA will have also done a LinkedIn search for you, checked out all of your social media channels, and immersed themselves as much as possible in your brand. It’s about more than just being eager; they should show that they’re proactive and thorough. To me, this is an essential part of them making their case as to why you should hire them as your VA.   

They’re Late (to the Call or Delivering a Proposal)

I’m a big believer in punctuality! I personally strive to make sure that I’m always on time (hopefully even a bit early) for all of my meetings, both personal and business related. It’s a matter of mutual respect; I respect you so I wouldn’t dream of wasting your time by making you wait for me. And it honestly isn’t that difficult; all it takes is effectively budgeting my time.

That kind of time management is critical for a VA!

So if I have a scheduled call with a VA and they’re late, that’s a big red light.

Keep in mind that they’re likely making the call from their home. There’s not really a big commute between the bed and the computer! Unless there’s a legitimate emergency that they’ve informed you about ahead of time, there’s no excuse for being late to a pre-scheduled call.

This is just as relevant if they’re delivering a proposal to you pitching their services. The proposal is the first “deadline” you’re working on together. If they can’t hit that first deadline, you can probably bet that more important projects will also be late in the future. No thanks.

You Feel Like They’re Not Listening or They Constantly Interrupt

Knock, Knock.

Who’s there?

Interrupting cow.

Interrupting cow wh–MOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

Funny? You know what’s not funny? When someone actually interrupts me while I’m speaking with them. It’s rude, period. And if I’m in the middle of an interview with a VA, the last thing I want is for them to continually cut me off while I’m speaking. No thank you, next applicant, please!

In the interview, the VA should show that they’re fully paying attention. After all, they aren’t in the office with you. It isn’t like you’re going to be able to look over their shoulder to make sure they’re on the right track. They need to be able to hear and understand you the first time. If you get the feeling that a VA isn’t paying attention to what you’re saying in the initial interview, likely they won’t be listening after you hire them either.

They’re in PJs or Don’t Look Put Together

Who hasn’t wished that they could just roll out of bed and go to work in their PJs? Since most Virtual Assistants work from home, this is a legitimate option for them.

What’s NOT an option is meeting with a prospective client on a video call while they’re still in their PJs. Not only does it show a profound lack of respect, but it also doesn’t speak well to their character. If they don’t care enough about their appearance to put in a little effort to make a good impression with a new client, then what might that say about their commitment to the job?

Let’s put it this way. If they appear sloppy, unprepared, and disrespectful on Zoom, there’s a good chance those qualities will also be found in their work. If you run into a VA who looks like an unmade bed, that’s a big red light!

They Seem Defensive/Hard to Talk to

As the boss, it’s essential that you have a team who respects you and can take criticism. After all, you’re the one in charge and who makes the final decisions. If something isn’t completed to your expectations, then you need your team to be able to take your feedback and fix the problem.

If you’re interviewing a virtual assistant and they’re standoffish, defensive, or just difficult to talk to, that’s a preview into what your boss-employee relationship will be like. They need to be able to take that feedback on a constant basis. At some point in your working relationships, chances are they’re going to deliver something that doesn’t meet your standards. Are they going to be able to fix problems without getting defensive? If a VA hits you with excuses rather than asking questions about how they can make it better, that’s a red light.


They Ask About Your Goals

Not only is asking about your business goals the polite thing to do, but it’s also an essential part of their job!

You want to hire someone who will work to advance your ambitions and success. If a Virtual Assistant asks about your goals in the initial interview, that’s an excellent sign that they’ll keep those goals in mind while they’re doing their work. It’s a big green light that they’re interested in helping you with your business objectives and that they’re going to genuinely care about your success if you hire them.

They Ask Informed Questions About Your Business

Remember when I said that a Virtual Assistant needs to do their homework? This is what I was talking about.

Asking informed questions about your business goes beyond just trying to impress you. It shows that they bothered to learn about you before the call. They’ve spent time researching your business and your background, demonstrating that they’re ready to put in a similar level of legwork when it comes to your projects. And they know that they need to gather as much intel about you as possible in order to do a stellar job on their work with you.

Asking informed questions does them a service as well, because figuring out if they’re a good match for you is a two-way street. You both need to determine that you’ll be a good fit for one another.

They Offer Suggestions on How They Can Work With You

Being able to offer suggestions on how they can work with you shows that this isn’t a VA’s first rodeo. They’ve worked with other entrepreneurs and companies before and they can offer ideas about how to make your working relationship successful. They’re self-aware and proactive and they know exactly what areas they excel in. That’s valuable information for you to have when you’re looking for the perfect VA for your business.

They Lead the Call and Manage the Time Well

This goes back to time management skills. It’s imperative that VAs be able to manage their time properly. If they easily lose track of it, then how will they be able to complete assignments and tasks by the due dates?

Leading the call is another important skill. It shows initiative and leadership. Personally, I like working with people who come in with a plan—an agenda. This is especially important during an interview. If they’re going off on random tangents, not really answering my questions and instead, talking about whatever they feel like, that lack of focus could also show up in their work. But if they’re focused on the call, directing the conversation so we can end it by the scheduled time, that shows they’re on the ball. A big green light!

It’s super simple: Green means go, red means stop. If you want to hire a VA who will make your life easier (you know, the REASON you’re hiring them in the first place!), then you’ll want to get four green lights. If you get one red light, that might not be a reason to lock them out of consideration altogether, but more than one? That’s when I know that person just isn’t for me.

What about you? Do you have any red or green lights you look for that I may have missed? Tell me in the comments below.

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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