Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Virtual Assistant – And QBR’s Answers!

Whether you are hiring your sixth virtual assistant or your first, it can be somewhat terrifying to know whether or not you are hiring someone who will be a good match for you and your business. We have organized a list of questions to ask before you hire a virtual assistant to help you really get to know their abilities.

Of course, we have even more great details you can look for when looking to hire the perfect virtual assistant, you can get the free cheat sheet here.Remember, this person is not an employee and even though a good virtual assistant will team with you to grow your business, it is different than working with someone next to you.

What skills do you have?

Most virtual assistants specialize in one area. For many that means administrative tasks; others it could be a specialty in certain technology. There is nothing wrong with this and it is the most common offering you will find. It is also why so many businesses have multiple VAs or different contacts for different tasks. To be honest, this drove QBR’s founder (Codi Quick) nuts.

She quickly saw how frustrating it was for small business owners to have to manage multiple people to accomplish all the tasks they wanted completed. This is where QBR’s foundation is. We offer the one-stop shop for small business solutions. We like convenience and making things as easy as possible.

We have a team that works together to make sure we can help with all different areas of managing and growing your business. We staff people specifically for admin work, graphic design, digital marketing, websites, tech and more. Someone on our staff has done what you need, or is capable to figure it out quickly. There is no need to contact multiple people when our team can manage it all with one simple point of contact.

What is the best way to communicate with you?

This is an important piece in the relationship. You want to know this from the start to make sure the virtual assistant you are selecting is the best match for you. Most of QBR’s work is done via email. We are always happy to jump on a call when needed, but we value your time and ours. The correct communication depends on the task at hand. It is important to us to have clear written communication that we can reference as we work, not having to try to remember your details from a phone call. Writing down your needs and expectations also helps you to make sure you have them all clear in your mind and gives us the best information from the start.

If you are ever in our neck of the woods, stop by the office and we would love to meet you in person!

What can’t you do?

This is an important question so clients can manage their expectations. If there are boundaries, you should know where they lie. At QBR, this one is another unique answer of ours! We offer such a wide variety of services that our suggestion is to ask us about your tasks before looking elsewhere. We are always willing to tell you if it falls outside of our boundaries. If in the instance that a task falls outside of our boundaries, we will always give you our best recommendation.

What happens if you are sick or on vacation?

This can be incredibly frustrating for many business owners who depend on their VA. They are not employees, and a VA can just fall off the face of the earth. It is another reason Codi turned this into a business with a team instead of just herself.

When you work with QBR you have an account manager. This is the main person who is responsible for your account. We do our best to communicate any timeoff well in advance so we can all prepare together for it. If there is a way to work ahead, we will do this to make sure you are working with your team best. If your account manager is gone, there are still others who are here and overseeing any emails you send during that time.  We cross-train the team and go through every project as a group to make sure our clients always have someone who can step in and help without there being too much disturbance to our clients. Of course, we appreciate your patience and understanding here as well. We do our best to keep you up and running while making sure our team gets their much-needed breaks as well.

How often and how quickly should I expect to hear from you?

This is an area of setting good expectations. Virtual assistants are not your employee and do not have to work certain hours. They have other clients and their individual schedules, so it is important for you to know what to expect. At QBR, the team works on Pacific time and because they are employees (not contractors) of QBR, they have set hours. 

QBR typically works 8:00 am to 4:30 pm PST and closed on major holidays (and a few extra!). Remember, our team does still have their own human needs and your account manager's schedule can vary.  Please remember to be as organized as possible to help us meet your deadelines.We strive hard to respond to all emails within 24 hours. In that response, we will set the expectation of when we can have something back to you. This does not mean work will be completed in 24 hours. We can always meet reasonable deadlines based on your projects need, or let you know when you can expect something returned. If we aren’t actively working on something from you or haven’t heard from you asking to use your retained time, you can expect us to make sure we reach out to see if you need anything every 10 or so days.

How do I get the most value out of working with you?

This answer will vary with every virtual assistant you talk to, but this should be a little telling about who this person is and if they are a good fit for you. For QBR, this one is about relationships and people.

QBR has such a wide variety of skills that you get the most out of us by fully using us. We are happy to just be admin if that is what you need, but most of our clients that isn’t the case. Our most successful clients are the ones who truly integrate our support into their business. We specialize in areas of business that you don't. If you let us be part of your bigger picture and bring us in more, we usually can make those efforts give a greater return.

Our team can do much more than check the to-do list box if you want us to. When we have discussed your goals, strategy and way implementation, we can offer our experience and suggestions that might work for you. We have clients who typically fall into two categories: Those who are with us three months or less, or those who are with us three years and more.

Those who love us invest in the relationship with QBR as much as we invest in them. They want us to work and work together as if we were an employee training and sitting next to them. It takes a while to get in the groove and trust in any relationship. The relationship with your VA is something you have to invest in as well.

Our best and favorite clients communicate with us frequently. They invest time and engergy into the relationship and their business. Our best clients remember that they get the best when they give their best. They understand that  they have to work to make the relationship work as much as we do and put effort into being our favorite clients. Remember, we want to help you and partner with you, but at the end of the day it is your business, and you can't outsource the responsibility of its success.

What is the process of getting started with you?

This is also a very telling process in starting a relationship with someone. You will see how organized they are and whether or not they do this as just a hobby versus a livelihood.

At QBR, we make all our clients sign a contract before starting work. Then some of the intake varies based on what you have hired us for. Most clients will fill out a client business profile and customer avatar. This asks a lot about your business, audience, who you are, and what you are trying to do. This is something we can always refer to draw inspiration if we get “stuck” on your projects.

So the more you put into this homework, the more we can get out. Much of our client’s intake is admin set up on our side. We use Asana for a task management, so we start by setting the client up in Asana, then we add everything to our LastPass account to make sure information and passwords are safe.

Our clients get a welcome on-boarding email that introduces them to their account manager and how to start sending us tasks. It is important to know that getting started and the set up does take a little time. We value the organization and getting-to-know-you process.

Where do you work?

We always recommend people ask this question to get a sense of who they are hiring. Because you are hiring a remote position, this answer will vary widely. Expect anything from their home, the office, or the local coffee shop. For QBR, the team all works in an office environment together. We are literally feet away from each other if we need to collaborate or ask questions among ourselves!

Even though we are believers in the remote work space, we think this question is important. If you are already struggling with working remotely and feeling out of control of your remote workers, this question is either going to make you feel better or worse. Take heart to how you feel about the answer when choosing your VA. If you are struggling with the remote environment, are you going to be ok with you VA working in a coffee shop? This doesn't mean their quality is worse, but how you feel about it is important to think about.

What do I do if there is a problem or I am unhappy?

This falls a lot back on our communication expectations. We hope that whatever VA you hire you are comfortable enough to give feedback and discuss with them openly. If not, you probably need to reevaluate. 

Remember, this should be a good relationship. We typically have found that most problems with any relationship with a client revolve around expectations. We try to manage these before anything comes up, as well as make sure we are getting what we need from the client to best serve them. This isn't always possible, and know that these expectation conversations will need to happen regularly. As your business grows and changes, you will need to realign at times. That is good! Just make sure you are communicating those needs before you cross that line where you ruin a relationship.

At QBR, we encourage clients to let us know right away if something doesn’t feel right or they are not happy. This would begin with an email to your account manager. Let the account manager know where you would like things to look or feel different. Communicating that expecation allows us to know how to meet it or whether we need to have a conversation about the expecation in general. If things are not going well, we always encourage clients to reach out to Codi before they are too frustrated. 

Codi is a great resource to be able to mediate a problem between a client and an account manager before there are any hard feelings. The nice benefit of working with a team is that there is always the option to change account managers if there is a personality conflict or other reason without having to find a new VA service and go through new onboarding somewhere. Knowing where the boundaries are makes it easier for QBR and our clients to make sure we respect them. Again, this is not a one-time conversation.

Not sure if you are ready for a VA? Take our quiz!