Virtual Assistant Questions You Need to Ask

13 Virtual Assistant Interview Questions You Need to Ask

By Staff Writer

You’re a coach working on overwhelm. Although it’s difficult to admit you need help, you’ve begun to realize that you need a virtual assistant.  The thing is though that you don’t want any ol’ virtual assistant. You want a star, a team player, a problem-solver...someone who delivers results. You want to take your time and ask the best virtual assistant interview questions that will get you the most qualified and best fitting candidate.

A bit of anxiety creeps in as you consider how best to approach finding the right virtual assistant. Someone can look good on paper but be the complete opposite when put to work. Therefore, it’s important to separate the weeds from the thorns from the get-go by creating a solid hiring process that has three steps:

  1. The W-H-O Interview
  2. Onboarding
  3. Probationary period

This article focuses on the W-H-O process for interviewing virtual assistants that will help you select the right virtual assistant. This interview strategy divides the interview questions into three categories: the who, the how and the overcomer. Asking the questions in the right way can help you learn more about a virtual assistant candidate than you would using traditional interview questions. Here’s how it works.

The WHO Process - Virtual Assistant Interview Questions

The Who

Virtual Assistant Interview

The first set of virtual assistant interview questions will help you learn more about the individual. The person you’re hiring isn’t a robot. This virtual assistant is a human being with a unique set of character traits, interests and skills. It’s important to get to know who the person is holistically before trying to understand what the person can do.

How would you describe the journey that has led you to where you are today?

This question helps you understand the candidate’s background. It also shows you how many personal details this person is willing to share. You aren’t trying to establish a friendship, but getting to know where this person is coming from equips you with the knowledge you need to help the person grow. 

Remember that you’re the leader of your business and, as a transformational leader, you have a responsibility to help each person who enters your team become the best version of himself or herself.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

This virtual assistant interview question gives you a good sense of the values held by the candidate and how those values may impact his or her work. For instance, someone who responds with “I like to party. You only live once right?” may not be reliable when it comes to meeting deadlines. Having a good time is great but it becomes a problem when it hampers the person’s ability to work. This question can help you quickly identify some red flags. 

On the other hand, someone who says, “I barely have time to sleep between kids, house, and work.” probably isn't a good fit either. They may be constantly battling fatigue and overwhelm and miss deadlines regularly.

What type of work are you really good at?

Virtual assistants can complete a myriad of tasks such as appointment scheduling, booking flights and finding the right freelancers to work on projects. There are some crucial differences between a virtual assistant and an online business manager. Don’t expect the virtual assistant candidate to do the work of an online business manager. 

Additionally, this question helps you identify the virtual assistant’s strengths. This candidate may be strong in areas where you really don’t need help. On the other hand, this candidate may be strong in an area where you need help but weak in other areas where you need help. You don’t want to set the person up to fail by assigning tasks that render the candidate inefficient. 

Pro Tip

Watch out for the individual who says “I can do anything you need me to”. This person is probably still a new VA and hasn’t had the experience to find out what they are really good at doing.

What is your favorite communication medium?

Some people prefer emails, others prefer calls. It’s important to know whether the candidate’s preferred communication medium conflicts with your own. It can become overwhelming for an introvert who prefers email communication to communicate with you via phone calls daily. And it can be very annoying to receive constant text messages for non-urgent matters if that’s not your style.

Sure, a good team player is flexible and adjusts to the client’s expectations. They will also help create an effective communication strategy that works for both parties. However, you can develop a healthier working relationship if you both have the same preferred communication medium.

What timezone are you in? 

Time zones are crucial in the world of remote work. Working with a virtual assistant who is 10 hours ahead of you can be challenging especially when you need to have video or phone calls.  Time zone may not matter if the tasks you need the virtual assistant to complete are time independent. However, it can become a major problem if these tasks are time sensitive. 

Pro Tip

Avoid long distance headaches and hire virtual assistants within a couple of time zones of your location.

What are your schedule restrictions?

Many virtual assistants are moms who either have a full-time job or work from home. Their schedules are packed, leaving only a few hours in the day to complete virtual assistant assignments.You should know the candidate’s availability upfront so that you can determine whether it’s something you can work with.

For example, Virtual A Team practices family boundaries. We do not work after 5pm or on weekends. Or, at least, we aren’t available to our clients during these black out times. This is a hard rule we’ve put in place so that we can honor family time and self care time. This is a direct result of our WHY. Curious? Watch the video here.

If a client needs us outside of those hours, it probably would not be a good long term fit.

Another thing to keep in mind are holidays. When interviewing potential virtual assistants, it can be helpful to know what holidays they choose not to work so that you can work around those dates on your own calendar.

The How

You’ve gotten to know this person a bit more during your interview with your potential virtual assistant. It’s now time to understand how this person handles difficult situations and the strength of his or her problem solving skills. These questions also gauge the candidate’s maturity and experience. 

How have you handled a situation where someone you managed wasn’t performing optimally but didn’t need to be fired?

Chances are your virtual assistant will be doing some hiring and firing as a team of remote workers is created to help you run your solopreneur empire. It’s important to know whether this virtual assistant is a manager or a leader. A leader will take the time to coach and encourage those under his or her care to produce the best product consistently. It’s about uplifting the struggling freelancer instead of tearing him or her down. You need to be able to trust that the virtual assistant you hire can handle these situations like a leader.

How have you handled situations where you disagreed with your boss?

you’re a micromanager

Mumbling behind someone’s back never solves a problem. You should know whether this candidate is able to respectfully voice his or her opinions or hides in the shadows. It’s not only about getting the job done. Having someone on the team who can make the good thing you’ve got going even better is crucial.

How have you handled clients who don’t clearly articulate their needs? 

When interviewing virtual assistants, it’s important to understand how open to asking questions they are. Will they ask for clarification and additional details or get frustrated and try to figure things out on their own? 

It is often frustrating to deal with clients who aren’t clear about what they need. It takes a good measure of self-restraint to avoid venting that frustration. You need to know that your virtual assistant has that self-restraint and the ability to manage his or her emotions effectively. You don’t want to lose a client because your virtual assistant didn’t know how best to deal with that client’s haphazard tendencies.

Describe a situation where you proactively addressed a client’s need. 

This question has dual purposes. Firstly, it helps you identify the candidate’s level of experience. Secondly, it helps you identify the candidate’s problem solving skills. You want someone who is solution-oriented, not someone who complains and does nothing to ensure the client is happy.

The Overcomer

This group of questions assess how well the candidate has dealt with difficult situations. You want a virtual assistant who is honest, reliable, transparent and quick to conquer difficult situations. By asking the questions about past situations, you have a better idea of how they will respond.

Tell me about a time where you realized that you couldn’t perform a task on your own after it had been assigned to you?

There are times when your virtual assistant may believe he or she has understood the task and can do it alone, but soon realizes the lie. You want someone who owns the challenge and isn’t afraid to approach you to find a solution. Someone who passes the work off to someone else or who waits until the deadline to tell you all the challenges faced isn’t a good fit for your team.

Share with me an experience where you had several assignments to complete and realized you couldn’t complete all of them by their deadlines?

You want your virtual assistant to be completely transparent with you. Of course you don’t want to hear excuses or change the deadline of a crucial assignment. However, you also don’t want the deadline to arrive and the virtual assistant having nothing to show for it. It’s better for the virtual assistant to say, “I don’t think I’ll get this done by the deadline” and get it done anyways rather than have nothing to show when it’s crunch time.

Tell me about a time where you experience technical difficulties that threaten your ability to complete a task?

Shit happens. Your virtual assistant’s internet connection could go down or the computer could crash. The first thing the virtual assistant should do is notify you so that you’re aware of what’s happening. It can be nerve-wracking when your virtual assistant disappears for days with no explanation.

13 Virtual Assistant Interview Questions You Need to Ask

You Can Trust Virtual A Team’s Experience

Taking your time to create an ad, review applications , ask the right virtual assistant interview questions, hire the right person and then train your Virtual Assistant is worthwhile in the long run. However, if you want to shave off precious amounts of time and skip the bulk of the process, Virtual A Team has your solution. 

Virtual A team has a strong team of experts who will get the job done. Our unique approach allows you to access ALL of our talent, without the management headaches. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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