virtual assistant
Image courtesy of Esther Inman
Apps/Software Women Entrepreneurs

4 Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

Maybe you’ve realized it’s time to hire a virtual assistant (or VA), but you’re not sure where to start. Or maybe you’ve been looking for a while, but you’re not sure who to hire yet. It can be overwhelming! The world of VAs is exploding right now. It seems like everyone has one, and there are a lot of VAs out there. Hiring the right person can be tough, especially if you’re not 100 percent sure what you’re looking for. 

Hiring a virtual assistant versus a full-time employee can save a lot of money. According to Zip Recruiter, you can plan to pay between $7.21 and $62.74 per hour for a US-based VA, with the average somewhere around $16 per hour. However, you are only paying them for hours worked, versus an employee who you may pay a salary, and you aren’t paying benefits. But, in order to make it a worthy investment, you need to know how to select a VA and who to hire to fit your needs. So let’s take a quick look at these 4 tips for hiring a virtual assistant so you know what to look for, red flags to avoid, and what to expect. 

Clearly establish what you’re hiring for 

First and foremost, make sure you understand exactly what you’re hiring a VA for. Make a “brain dump” on a piece of paper or within your digital notes to get an idea of what you’ll need your VA to do. Prioritize work items or tasks that are repetitive, not a good use of your time, aren’t moving the needle forward but just there as “nice to have.” 

Not sure where to start? As a business owner, there are likely a myriad of tasks to do every day that really don’t need to be done by you. These include paying bills, organizing expenses, making appointments, posting to social media, emailing clients, booking travel, etc. You can hire a VA for a few hours a week or as a full time right hand person to take over everything on your list. This will free up time for you to work on the tasks that move the business ahead and that only you can do.

Once you’ve got a list written out, it will help you understand the type of skills your VA will need to have and how much you’ll need to budget to pay them. VAs with different types of skills require different levels of pay, just like most other employees. So you’ll need a good understanding of what you’re looking for to find the right VA for the job, and for your budget! 

Determine what you want to pay 

There are lots of ways you can plan to pay your VA. Different pay packages work for different companies and virtual assistants. You can set a certain number of hours per week they’ll work at a fixed hourly rate or a flat-rate. Just remember, the VA’s level of experience will also need to be factored in here. 

Entry-level VAs with a course or two under their belt and maybe a little in-office experience will likely be $15/hr. Any expertise, (demonstrated through work samples and testimonials) will be  closer to $20 – $30/hr starting pay. More expertise and time will lead to pay increases. So you’ll want to look at what their specific experience is and what they’ll be doing for you. Remember, VAs may have certain skills but their main job is to do tasks that you give them. If you want someone to lead the business, strategize and manage—that’s a $40/hr or more role and not a VA. 

Examine and interview for a successful hire 

Don’t only request a resume! Ask any potential VAs for work samples and testimonials. Include specific questions in the inquiry to see if they pay attention to details. Once you have a few choice candidates, ask the top 3-5 you like to do a paid sample task (and ask them to time themselves if they’ll be paid hourly). This will give you a good idea of how they work. Paying them now will show you’re serious about hiring someone amazing. 

Once you find out who has the best qualifications, you can move forward to the interview stage and make a final decision. Make sure you’re asking questions that directly correlate to the skills and culture you’re looking to hire for. For example, if you need an assistant who can manage your social media, ask them about ways they have increased a client’s social following in the past, or how they go about setting up posts and interacting with followers.   

Setting up for success

Make sure that as you get started with a new VA, you set them up for success with walkthroughs, exact expectations, and samples. But make sure you balance specific instructions with letting them figure it out—that’s what they’re paid to do, after all! Make sure they have access to any tools you and your team use internally. If they’re an independent contractor, it can easily slip your mind that they’ll need access to tools like LastPass or Asana. 

You can find the right VA for your company and your needs, it just takes a little upfront work to ensure that you find someone who fits your needs. Make sure you’ve established your goals and needs, determined your budget and pay expectations, and taken the time in the interview process to assess skills and personalities for the right cultural and professional fit. 

About Ester Inman

Esther Inman is the CEO and founder of Virtual Assistant Internship and the host of Help Me Work Online, Esther. Over the years, Esther has helped thousands of women from all walks of life across the world work online as virtual assistants, creating virtual careers they love. If you’d like to see more tasks that a VA can complete for you, visit Esther’s website or connect with her on Instagram @esther_inman.