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5 Crucial Questions to Ask When Bringing on Virtual Assistants

By Barbara Beauregard   |    April 29, 2019   |    9:50 AM

The Most Important Questions to Ask When Procuring a Virtual Assistant For Your Small Business

As your small business grows and evolves, there’s a chance the amount of time you have in a day will decrease. Hiring a full-time employee isn’t always possible, but a virtual assistant can step in to save the day… if you find the right assistant.

Finding a virtual assistant is easier (and far more affordable) than traditional hiring, especially if you work directly with an on-demand services provider like Intelligent Office (IO). However, that doesn’t mean you can get away with procuring virtual assistant service provider unprepared, and these are the five essential questions you need to ask to find the perfect fit.

1. What are your primary services?

Like any other member of your team, every virtual assistant has a set of core duties that they’re comfortable performing. Your job is to make sure your potential hire’s skills match up with the job description.

Some are rockstars with reception and phone answering, others are admin pros who can help get your business organized, and you can even find virtual assistants with specific experience in your industry.

2. If you don’t know how to do something, what’s your process for figuring it out?

Virtual assistants are professionally trained and can handle a variety of tasks, but no one knows everything. That’s why it’s helpful to ask your would-be assistants how they get the job done when faced with a new or unfamiliar task.

This question is also a great way to assess a team's problem solving skills. Many businesses need a virtual assistant who can act with some degree of autonomy.

3. How do you prefer to communicate?

You want to find a virtual assistant with a communication style that complements the way you like to communicate with team members in your business. Email, text messages, phone calls, in-person meetings, workplace collaboration tools, and more are all options in the modern workforce. This question helps you avoid finding on-demand assistants who will never check their email or listen to a voicemail.

If you need some pointers on how to manage a remote workforce, don’t miss this helpful blog: Hiring and Managing a Virtual Workforce.

4. What are your working hours and how quickly can I expect responses?

Virtual assistants work from all over the world, so never assume that a potential fit will be available when you need them. Even if you aren’t working with an assistant in another country, service providers like IO have teams of virtual assistants across the United States and Canada, so time zones are still a consideration.

Additionally, most professional virtual assistants are helping more than one business. Managing expectations about availability and timeliness from the beginning will ensure everyone stays happy with the work arrangement.

5. How often does your system crash, and if it does, what do you do?

Whether it’s a computer crashing, the internet going down, or phones dropping, we all have moments when nothing seems to be going right. How will your on-demand team respond to these inevitable scenarios?

Ideally, the assistants will be on a robust, redundant technical environment that does not jeopardize your data. Showing strong "up" times, with a high-quality phone system, is imperative. No matter how this question is answered, it will help you find a team who stays calm and collected.