The Top 5 Mistakes I Stopped Making When Hiring A Virtual Assistant

You should know that getting a virtual assistant is not gonna solve your problems, unless you know what problems to solve.

When I first started looking for a VA, it was in 2007.

Six years ago, I had no idea what to look for, who to look or for or how to look for them.

But I was getting a VA and that’s all there was to it.

I was totally sold on the idea.

Many mistakes later, I figured out how to fine tune that process.

That’s what I’ll talk to you about today.

So how do you get a VA and avoid the same mistakes that I made?

First, let me tell you a little bit more about what happened.

I actually reached out to several VA services and tried a few like Tasks Every Day, Bpovia and Ask Sunday.

Ask Sunday was one of the better ones at the time.

(I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them now, unless you’re gonna do one off projects.)

In any case, I found my main full time VA from Topper Company, a much smaller, lesser known, VA service company.

That same VA asked if she could work for me directly.

We negotiated and she was my VA for several years, until I left corporate and there was no longer a need for her skillset.

Then, once I decided to go the entrepreneur route, I really fine tuned what I was looking for in a VA.

Now, let me tell you what my five biggest mistakes were and how I turned those mistakes around.

MISTAKE #1 - I WAS LOOKING FOR LOVE IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES.

So, what does that mean?

I didn’t know where to look. I was postin’ on craigslist, monster.com, random job sites...pretty much any place I could find.

Now, while some of those are okay, depending on what you’re looking for, not all of them are great.

So, outside of a direct recommendation from an entrepreneur friend who loves their VA and is willing to share, I've found the best sites to go to are oDesk and Elance.

And, I’m able to get quality work for a good price, at market value.

I am also very specific in my job ads.

But, those are my go-tos for really good contractors, instead of looking for love everywhere else.

MISTAKE #2 - I DIDN’T CLEARLY DEFINE THE ROLE AND DUTIES UPFRONT.

I was all over the place at first like many are when they’re first starting out.

It really was trial by fire.

And then, I wised up.

I got super clear about what I actually needed and then wrote that into the job description.

And I made sure the VA had previous experience and could speak to that experience.

No more random tasks.

MISTAKE #3 - I DIDN’T SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES.

My VAs were taking 2 hour lunch breaks and turning in stuff late.

(Yes, VAs, I sometimes used two VAs, 1 for one off general tasks like booking appointments or coming quick research and 1 as my main VA.)

They were not focused and had no idea how to set their own boundaries.

I started setting super clear expectations.

Right up front, I note the number of hours and I say how many times I want to meet each week.

Once they’d started, I got extra clear on deadlines and made sure they had buffer time between their deadline and the time the item or task was actually due so I had time to review it.

So, whatever your requirements are, state them upfront.

That requires you to be really clear on what you actually want.

So, in order to set your expectations for your VA you want to over-communicate, especially in the beginning.

Let them know, “Hey!, this is exactly what I expect from you. Can you provide that?”

MISTAKE #4 - I DIDN’T FINE TUNE THE INTERVIEW PROCESS.

At first, I was all over the place.

I was asking interesting questions.

I would google up some questions, do a bit of research here and there, etc.

Now, I have a very fine tuned interview process.

Let me give you an overview of two of the most important parts of that process.

Right in the job description, I will request that when they respond, they also send a response to a specific question I’ve included.

So, they’ve emailed me, I screened them, they have the experience and I have insight to their answer on a very specific question.

That alone weeds out half of the applicants (yes, even for high level positions or high level contractors!)

Why?

A number of reasons… either they weren’t that interested in the job and didn’t really answer the question, they didn’t follow directions, they're slow to respond, their grammar or writing sucks, etc.

I also have them do a face-to-face Skype interview with me for just 5 to 10 minutes.

That happens after I’ve narrowed the candidates down.

That Skype call really helps me figure out if this person will be a good fit, if we have a good vibe, if we have good chemistry, if they able to communicate well with me and will they be able to communicate well with my clients.

This helps you make certain that this person is the absolute right fit for your company.

MISTAKE # 5 - I DIDN’T HAVE A PROBATION WEEK.

Make sure you try them out.

Don’t just hire them and let them swish away. Swish. Swish.

That means, make sure they are held accountable and can actually do the job they say they can do.

So, give them a trial week to try out their work.

If you like them and their work, move forward.

If they’re really good at some duties, not so good at others, be sure to address your concerns and shift the focus for them as needed.

But, make sure to try them out for a week before you commit for a longer period of time.

That means you help them redefine what they are best at so you can get their best quality work.

So, those are the top 5 mistakes I made when I first hired A VA and my solutions for each.

Next week, I've give you a run down on the basic interview steps and hiring tools you need to hire your ideal VA.

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