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How To Hire The Best Virtual Assistant Services For Busy Executives

Imagine every morning, you open your email inbox and there are thousands of new emails. Sitting there. Insisting on a reply. 

And your calendar is already full. 

Erika Williams, managing partner at Albireo, knows the feeling.

Demand was picking up. Business opportunities seemed to fall in her lap. Keeping up with everything, including her inbox, was proving impossible. She was experiencing the strange catch-22 of success: rapid growth is hard. And the faster you scale, the harder it is to manage.

Erika was overwhelmed, so she reached out to her network for advice. Did they know anyone who could help? Could anyone recommend an executive assistant she could hire? 

It was one of her clients who told her about using a virtual assistant service, and pointed her to Boldly. 

Maybe you’re in a similar boat. You’re looking for a virtual assistant service, but not sure which one to choose or even where to start. Fortunately, you can learn from Erika’s experience as she was able to find her own perfect virtual assistant.

3 Traits To Look For When Vetting Virtual Assistant Services

There are lots of choices out there when it comes to virtual assistant services. You have to weed through the options before you’re even ready to consider a final decision.

Luckily, there are three key traits you should consider when narrowing down your options.

  1. Experience. You want to work with a service that’s been around a while, and who has been successful in providing a wide range of virtual assistant services to clients. Some virtual assistant services only focus on a narrow range of assistants, while others cover everything from admin to social media marketing. Find one with experience in exactly what you are looking for. 
  2. Culture. Look for a company who has taken the time to develop a virtual workplace culture. You want to work with a company that promotes a work-life balance and a business model that is favorable to both client and team-member. This leads to higher retention, and it’s less likely you’ll be cycling through several assistants in a short period of time.
  3. Model. You have two models to choose from when it comes to virtual assistants: contractor or subscription. With the contractor model, you are responsible for compliance with employment laws. A subscription staffing model relieves you of that concern, since  your assistant will be a W2 employee of the virtual assistant service. Plus, it gives you a lot of flexibility. You can increase or decrease your subscription based on what you need. 

Use those three basic traits to help you narrow down the field before going forward. Once you have your eye set on a specific virtual assistant service, your next concern is finding someone who clicks with you.

Chemistry Counts With Virtual Assistant Services

When Erika contacted Boldly, she thought she knew what she was looking for in an assistant. Someone funny. Someone who was smart and self-motivated. Someone who could write well. Someone in the same time zone.

That’s a mix of skill sets and personal chemistry, and a great virtual assistant service will help you hit the target on both.

Questions A Virtual Assistant Service Should Ask You

Erika had a short list of what she thought she wanted, but it wasn’t all-encompassing. She was new to having a virtual assistant, and wasn’t aware of everything there was to consider.

A great virtual assistant service needs to delve deep to know what you need and want before they can match you with an assistant. In Erika’s case, Boldly asked her a lot of questions. 

  • Had she had an assistant before?
  • If so, what did they do well? What could have gone better?
  • What kind of help did she need right away? What needed clearing from her plate ASAP?
  • What kind of skills or qualities was she looking for?
  • Did she have any quirks about the way she worked?
  • Were there personality types she preferred?
  • What areas were a struggle for her? What was getting in the way of important work?
  • What did she spend the most time doing? What did she think she should spend the most time doing?

That’s intense questioning, so much so that Erika joked it was like a dating service.

But it was important. 

They were hearing her echo the things she knew she wanted, yes, but the right questions also helped discover things she might not have been aware she preferred. 

Meet With Your Virtual Assistant First

All the interview information in the world isn’t any good if it isn’t put to use. Many virtual assistant services use a pool of workers, and simply assign whoever is next in line to you.

Remember, chemistry counts. 

Using whoever is next-in-line doesn’t cut it, and that should be a red flag. Meeting a potential virtual assistant before committing to the working relationship is an extremely important step. 

Boldly takes the chemistry connection seriously. After the interview, Boldly found someone they believed to be a good fit for Erika, and she was able to meet Tracy virtually. They got a chance to see if the chemistry was there. If either of them weren’t sold on the working partnership, they’d keep looking.

From there, Erika completed the virtual assistant onboarding process.

If you did everything else right, onboarding shouldn’t be painful. It’s simply the last logical piece of the puzzle where the new assistant learns how you work and what tools you use, and you have access to a dashboard where you can see their progress.

5 Key Questions To Ask Your Virtual Assistant

Erika answered questions to help Boldly know who to pair her with. 

When it comes time to meet your potential virtual assistant, you need to do the same.

  1. Tell me about a time when {insert a challenging and likely scenario}.
  2. How do you approach communication?
  3. How would you structure my busy day so I could get more work done?
  4. Tell me about your work style. (You might follow up with questions about multitasking, organization, and methods of efficiency and time management.)
  5. Why do you love being a virtual assistant?

Avoid simple yes or no questions. Encourage explanation and follow up to get more detail, because you’re looking for some specific things.

You want someone who responds in a similar way you would if you were asked the same thing. You want someone who takes on responsibilities and knows how to protect your time so you can get work done instead of having to micromanage everything. You want someone who has your best interests at heart. You want someone whose work style is similar or complements yours.

By the end of your meeting, you’ll know if there’s chemistry or not.

From Overwhelmed To Managed Growth

For Erika, it only took 15 minutes to know Tracy was what she was looking for in a virtual assistant.

“We’re in a Zoom world,” Erika said on our show, Making Remote Work. “Everyone wants to get on a call.” But thanks to being perfectly matched with a virtual assistant who protects her time, she’s able to get real work done instead of being stuck on endless meetings. She is able to fully focus on growth instead of the emails and meeting requests piling up. 

The road from overwhelmed to managed growth isn’t impossible to find. You can get started today with Boldly, and find the perfect virtual assistant.

About the author Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Boldly. She's passionate about helping Businesses, Organizations and Executives increase productivity and move their work forward with the right skills and resources. Setting an example of the efficiencies gained working remotely, she’s been leading her entire team on a virtual basis for the past decade.

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