2 Must Do Tips When Interviewing a Virtual Assistant

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Last week I was extra busy with one particular and most time consuming action when it comes to having a business, interviewing. This is the most mundane task I did last week because I was up till almost 2am just interviewing candidates from oDesk. I was looking for a solid new virtual assistant to help with my growing pains of having an online business.

When I interview, I actually do 2 things to make sure I can get the right candidate applying for the job position. It helps filter auto posters, copy and paste candidates, and agencies that also apply to your job posting. One tactic I do also speeds up the interview process and allows me to know how they think.

Tip #1 is to add a math problem in your job description.

This tip I actually got from a good friend of mine, Eric Nagel. I remember Google’in something and his post about adding math problems to your job description will help stop spam candidates.

The reason for this is because it helps eliminates auto posters, agencies, and candidates who just read the title of your job posting. I tend to put the math problem at the end of the job description because I want them to read the full job posting. By allowing candidates to read your full description and answering your required math problem, it shows they are serious about the job posting you have posted.

What I hate is a lot of automated posts or candidates that simply do a search on their specialty and then give me a default response. You want to make sure you are hiring that can take your directions seriously. If you find just a user who is applying for everything that candidate might not be a good fit for your online business.

Tip #2 is to do a video chat interview.

This past week I interviewed someone from the Philippines and his email response were good, his resume looks amazing, overall I was ready to hire this specific virtual assistant. I asked if he can do a video chat with me for the final interview. I asked him simple questions about his tactics but failed to respond to the question.

By putting someone in a face to face conversation you get an understanding of how they are reacting to your questions. Sometimes it is best to look at a person and read them physically before hiring because their reaction can tell you a lot about that person. With this specific interview, he looked confused and I can also tell he was searching the internet for answers. Also since I can speak tagalog, I attempted to speak to him in tagalog and he felt more comfortable. Still the answers were not what I was looking for. Plus his reactions on his face seemed as if he was lost by my simple questions.

In the end it is critical to have someone that is easy going and can understand your requests as well the will to learn and expand their own knowledge. I also have some sets of pre made documents for them to use right away once they are working with me. I am always looking for a good person to work with and even expand my ideas. I just do not look for a worker or a push button person. I want to be able to interact with them and allow them to help expand my business.

These 2 small quick tactics has helped me find the right outsourcing candidate every time. It stopped me from wasting time, even though I did spend a good week on finding the right person to work with me on my new projects. I was able to interview and talk to more qualified virtual assistants. I remember in the past I wasted a lot more time on poor candidates and even agencies that kept sending me under qualified users. These small 2 tactics has helped a lot.

The most important part is having the ability to talk to them face to face via Skype because it gives you a better understanding of the end user. If you can always try to do a video interview rather than a Skype chat or voice call. It just gives you a different perspective of the person you are interviewing.


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  • 2 great tips!  I also find it a must now to ask for references, or I will try to just contact ones he worked with in the past directly.  I find this to be a better background check than anything else.  If I’m spending so much time and energy interviewing and then training a VA, I want to make sure I get it right.

    Thanks Ian!

    -Tom

  • Guesyu78

    #1 is a great tip.

  • I agree. In odesk it shows the history and the reviews others left so referral check sare basically there. yea I do not want to spend too much time teaching as well.

  • I dig the math problem tip. We recently posted for a part-time CSR and have received well over 100 responses, many of which were all of the unwanted types Ian mentioned. From now on, we will be using a match problem! Thanks Ian!

  • No Offense, but I dont trust Odesk more as you can buy the reviews and can get higher ratings.. Math Problems and Grammer questions are the ones I always stick to. Apart from that I also ask them which blogs do they read and how frequently, that way we can get to know the inside out of a person