5 Questions to Ask Every VA You Hire

virtual personal assistantMany online business owners have found that retaining a Virtual Personal Assistant offers them numerous advantages. While the days of the bustling office are dwindling, there is still a major need for the old secretaries and administrative assistants that handled the daily minutiae. With a virtual personal assistant, you’ll have a lot more time on your hands to handle the tasks that are actually important to you.

Hiring a VA is not a simple task, however. It is now possible to find tens of thousands of personal assistants from hundreds of countries, and choosing the right one for you will not be easy. Here are five questions you can ask any potential VA to help you decide if they’re right for you.

“Where Are You From?”

This is the most important question when you are hiring any VA. While this question doesn’t matter much in the brick and mortar world, it is everything when you are choosing a VA. VA’s come from many different countries. This means that there are a lot of geographic considerations.

Many VA’s come from countries such as India, Pakistan, and other developing nations. You’ll usually be able to get labor from these countries at a steep discount, but there are other costs to consider. You’ll have to be prepared for a VA that doesn’t speak fluent English, and may not understand all of your instructions.

VA’s from nations like Canada, the United States, and Western Europe will offer you more fluent English, but they also charge a higher premium for their services. When you know the country of origin for your VA, you’ll have an idea for the range when you want to negotiate salary.

“What Hours Are You Available”

Another problem that often comes up with the nationality of VAs is their waking/working hours. It won’t do you much good to have a VA who is asleep when you need them the most. Sometimes, even someone on the same continent as you will experience enough time zone difference to make working together difficult.

“What Have You Done in the Past?”

No two VA’s will have the same qualifications. The people who apply for these jobs run from teenagers to retired/laid off executives.  You need to seriously consider your needs before you hire any VA. Some will be better at office tasks, while others can handle your more demanding software needs.

Always ask any VA what they have done in the past. You may find that they can offer you a lot more than you expected. Of course, you should also be prepared for VA’s claiming that they are experienced in ways they are not. That is why it is important to ask them for references whenever possible.

“Will Any of Your References Speak For You?”

Asking about references online is a very different game from asking for them offline. If a VA decided to omit references, you’ll often have no way of finding out about it. Focus on the references that the VA does offer you, and be as thorough as possible when you are researching them. Ask the VA for contact information on the references and follow up whenever possible.

“What Are You Studying/Doing?”

This is sort of a trick question that will tell you a lot. Many, many VA’s are students in developing countries. They work online to pay tuition, but they often also have many other concerns. Asking them about their area of study is a way of asking about their commitment to working for you without putting them on the defensive.

Hire a Great VA

As long as you ask these questions, you should have no trouble finding a great VA. Good luck with your search!

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