How to successfully hire a Virtual Assistant
We have reached an interesting juncture in the healthcare crisis that has engulfed the country since March 2020. Though the country is again in lockdown, businesses themselves have proved remarkably resilient and are forging ahead, working from home despite COVID-19.
Companies in London have adjusted not only their business models, but also their office support role hiring practices and flexible working strategies to ensure they continue to attract and retain the best talent in the new world of work – a world in which executive assistants have morphed into virtual assistants. Indeed many have been hired this year without ever meeting their direct reports in person.
As a leading office support recruitment agency in London we have compiled our top tips for when it comes to hiring your next virtual assistant, setting you both up for success:
Personality and “fit” are more important than technical skills
This may come as a surprise, especially as you may expect less personal interaction with a virtual assistant as opposed to an executive assistant, but the reality is that character, communication skills and style – and how they blend with your own – is one of the strongest predictors for success in your virtual assistant
Understand how they see the role being delivered
Many companies seek to explain how they envision office support roles unfolding – directing the conversation as opposed to listening hard to how the virtual assistant sees the role working. Bearing in mind they will not be under your direct supervision for days if not weeks and months, it’s crucial you understand how they see themselves delivering.
Make sure your communication method is a match
Do you envision daily Zoom calls? Do you use Slack? Do you prefer mostly email communication? Do you want to be in constant Whatsapp-style communication? Don’t assume that your preferred method is theirs. Find out how they have worked in the past and what they have found to be most productive and make sure that you can either adapt, or that it’s a match for you too.
Schedule your catch ups
Aim for these to be weekly as a minimum and for there to be a central agenda which you populate between you. This will not only ensure you make the most of the time (15 minutes to an hour maximum) but will also give you both a valuable heads-up around any issues or concerns which may need to be addressed.
Tell them how you like to be managed
Are you a chaotic creative, super-organised in operations or just need someone to make sure you’re on time to all those meetings? A key to a successful virtual assistant hire is enabling them to understand what you really need them to do. Check that they won’t be frustrated by your style during the interview, and that their style won’t frustrate you.
And manage them well in advance too
Tell your virtual assistant how you are going to manage them if they get hired. They need to know in advance how you will approach certain situations. Social cues such as reading body language and feeling the mood of the room are not available to you, so prepare your virtual assistant for those times when you may be short-tempered, under pressure, or frustrated at a perceived shortfall in performance. Help them in advance by talking about this at the interview stage, so they know to take these things into account, as opposed to taking them personally. Remember – a virtual assistant working from home doesn’t have the work network around them day-to-day to share those moments when they’re lacking confidence or feel they may have let you down.
Did we mention communication?
It cannot be stressed enough that communication will make or break the role. Despite the fact that your company will likely have a list of required competencies and outcomes, if you don’t get along, if you don’t have anything in common, if you can’t easily find ways to connect, then this will seriously affect the chances of success.
Health and well-being
Really think about your virtual assistant’s health and well-being. Out of sight must not mean out of mind. It is not harder to be supported by someone virtually, but it is more difficult to be supportive virtually.
Lean towards experience
Virtual assistant roles tend to suit employees who have plenty of experience – who have learned on the job in an office environment, who are self-sufficient in their ability to deliver, and who no longer need the support of a day-to-day manager. We are still at the early stages of working out how to remotely train inexperienced staff who no longer benefit from the osmosis that office support experience enabled.
Pay attention to on-boarding
Your virtual assistant may well be on-boarded remotely. While working from home they need to know what to do, how to get access to what they need, and key introductions should be made. Have them meet people in person if at all possible in their first few weeks. They will not only add structure to their role, but also a sense of belonging. Ask them on a regular basis how they are settling in to the company and its culture, especially in the first three months. Find out the connection successes and plan more of them. A virtual assistant may be remote (and indeed prefer a remote role) but will not want to feel.
If you are a client looking to hire your next temporary or permanent virtual assistant, or another office support role in London, contact our team so we can help you with your search at email@example.com
Take care, stay positive and we hope to see you soon!
Australasian Recruitment Company