It is a sad fact that for the UK VA industry that far too many people have bad experiences with Virtual Assistants. It is within our core values and mission at VIP VA to radically improve that by bringing together and nurturing top quality VAs and making it easier to connect the right one to the right client.

Whenever we have a bad experience in life we can blame others – or we can learn from the experience. Try and forget what “they” did wrong in the end, think about how you could improve your decision making at the start. Did you settle for the first person you spoke to? Were you tempted by the too good to be true price? Did you obtain (and check out) references?

So, as a business owner, what do you need to ask when having a conversation a potential VA?

Be honest. This person needs to help you, to work with you. Don’t pretend you’re super organised if you’re not, or present yourself as a relaxed, easygoing person if you know you’re a micromanaging freak who loves the detail. This self-deceit probably won’t stop you getting a decent VA but it will stop you getting the best one for you and your way of working.

Be specific. Talk about real things that would have helped you in the last month. Test how they think, see what they would have done to allow you and your business to move on and grow.

Talk about attitude, not just skills. Do you want someone to give tasks to or someone to be coming to you with ideas and solutions to improve things? From experience it’s easy for both sides to talk up the wonders of proactive, involved VAs, but both sides need to be honest about the type of person they really enjoy working with. It’s OK to say I want someone who just does what I tell them!

Dig into real life examples. Don’t settle for someone telling you they are proficient in powerpoint templates, infusionsoft or the latest techno fad – ask them about what they’re proudest of doing in it, or what the last couple of things they have really worked on were. Ask them what they do when they get stuck, or when things have gone wrong in the past.

Be realistic. Talk about how they will balance your priorities with other work and their personal life. Again – get them to talk to examples from existing clients rather than churning out the words they know you want to hear.

Let them ask questions. You most likely want someone who’s keen and has initiative. If they want to work with you and are going to be any good at what they do the quality of questions should reflect that – referencing your website or social media activity for example.

And last, but not least, when you’ve made your decision commit to it, believe in it and make it work!

It can take a while to build the trust, and at first things can take longer than you want them to, but if you’ve made a good choice then taking those extra minutes up front will save you time and money in the long run.

Happy searching!