Last Updated: February 2, 2024

Hiring a virtual assistant: Mistakes to absolutely avoid!

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    Julie WhiteTeam SM90

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    100% human content The content of this article was entirely researched, written and reviewed by humans, to ensure accurate and exclusive information. No AI writing tools were used.

    No wonder why more and more companies are joining the trend of hiring virtual assistants. Latest stats reveal that companies can save up to 78% of their costs by hiring virtual assistants. That’s right. No office expenses, no travel expenses, no accommodation expenses. Just a skilled professional who can help you with your tasks remotely. Sounds like a game-changer, right? Well, not exactly. Hiring a virtual assistant could be a nightmare if you don’t do it right.

    Since hiring a virtual assistant is a relatively new idea, many companies have misconceptions about it. Errors from such wrong assumptions often lead to the wastage of large amounts of time and money. In this blog, we will cover the common mistakes while hiring virtual assistants and how to avoid them.

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      Common Mistakes to Avoid While Hiring a Virtual Assistant

      1. Lack of Communication

      The biggest mistake that you should avoid while hiring a virtual assistant is not communicating with him. This could be a pressing issue if your assistant is from a non-English country, totally distant from your time zone.

      A well-structured communication plan must be laid out to avoid such discrepancies. You must set regular check-in times, and communication channels and track the work progress of the assistant. Consider conducting weekly or even daily meetings to ensure that the assistant stays on track. Make use of online software like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, etc.

      When working with a virtual assistant, try to accommodate their time zone as much as possible. They may have different peak hours and preferences than you. It is better to respect that for optimized output. Set the check-ins and deadlines according to their time zone, not yours.

      2. Lack of Training

      You might have hired an assistant after considering the skills and portfolio. Of course, they might be talented, but they do require training to know your company’s procedures and rules. You must invest time and effort in assistants to get the most out of them. Unfortunately, most businesses do not set aside time for that and proceed quickly after the interview. 

      The more experienced an assistant is, the less time you need to spend on training. But if you are forced to hire a fresher virtual assistant due to budget constraints, consider setting up a solid onboarding process. Create a team led by a senior professional in your company to give training for the assistant for a specific time. In the training, you must cover all key aspects like the tools used for operations, communication software, and key metrics for evaluation. It not only contributes to improving the skills of the assistant but also builds positive relationships with them.

      3. No planning

      Hiring a virtual assistant is a big investment so you must have a strong strategy to manage them. Most companies do not have such definite plans and that’s why most of them end up with emergency situations. And you know what? Nothing productive comes out of emergencies. 

      Consider the crisis situations that may arise in the work and prepare contingency plans to deal with such situations. For example, what will you do if your assistant goes on sick leave for a week? You must find a backup agency or freelancer to handle that work in case of such a scenario.

      Keep in mind that no one likes to work in a company where everything is demanded at the last moment. So, proper planning is the first step to building a successful relationship with virtual assistants.

      4. Lack of understanding of the need for Virtual Assistant

      Virtual assistants are indeed a valuable asset to your company if you properly manage them. However, you should not hire them simply after reading an article. You must have a strong reason or need for hiring them. 

      Ask yourselves these questions. Do you have the necessary technology for communicating with the assistant? Do you have the requirements to track the workflow? What can you expect from the assistant? You must answer this question first to avoid work overload for the assistant. Here are some common things that you can expect:

      • Reduce the workload of employees.
      • Save time and cost in daily administrative tasks.
      • Assist full-time staff with a project.
      • Improve productivity by working flexibly as per the preferences of the assistant.

      5. Underpayment of Virtual Assistant

      Keep in mind that valuable things come at a cost. You just can’t evade that. Virtual assistants are long-term quality assets to your company that can save you valuable costs and time. So, do not be stingy while hiring a virtual assistant.

      In simple words, when you are underpaying a virtual assistant, you are underutilizing him. They will eventually lose interest and switch sides when they get a reasonable offer, leaving you amidst a project. 

      Do proper research about industry standards of paying for a particular job. Try to set a fair wage for the virtual assistant. Moreover, conduct performance reviews at fixed intervals like quarterly or half-yearly. Then, give them a hike if they deserve that. If you fail to do so, you may face negative reviews in hiring platforms and professionals may hesitate to work with you.

      6. Not having a Review Mechanism

      Yes, you might have hired the virtual assistant after analyzing his expertise and skills. But you just can’t sit back and relax just because of that. This is where many virtual assistant projects fail.

       No matter what kind of work you delegate, a proper quality control system must be put in place. You must give proper guidelines and if possible, give references to similar previous works. Moreover, review the work done by the virtual assistant as soon as it is submitted. 

      Consider setting up a 30-minute feedback session every week to communicate your suggestions to the virtual assistant. Only suggestions and feedback can improve the work quality. You cannot take it for granted.

      7. Lack of a Proper Hiring Process

      Companies often have their own standard hiring process but many omit it for virtual hiring. Gone are the days when we hired candidates just after resume screening. Take a step beyond the traditional resume screening process and try to analyze the skills of the candidates using tests. Try to stick with this sample procedure: 

      • Interview: After resume screening, schedule a face-to-face interview session with the qualified candidates.
      • Tests: Conduct tests to analyze the core skills of the candidate required for the job. If you want to hire a virtual assistant for email management, you can ask the candidate to prepare a sample reply mail to a customer query. 

        Aside, if you’re looking for SEO virtual assistants, ask them to create a sample audit for your website. This way you can check their expertise.  

      • Discussion: once you are satisfied with the performance of the candidate in tests, move on to the final round. Discuss with the candidates regarding their job roles and preferences. Ask about the salary expectations and long-term goals of the assistants, too.

      8. Excessive Monitoring

      Spending money, especially a large amount, can make people too cautious. However, you must limit that feeling while working with a virtual assistant and give preference to a positive work atmosphere. 

      Do not try to micromanage as it creates insecurity for the assistant eventually leading to reduced productivity. This also slows down the workflow. Consider reducing the quality control procedures as the assistant gets used to the work.

      Once you notice that the assistant is prepared for the job, keep a distance. Productivity will be optimized only in a positive work atmosphere where the virtual assistant is free to put in his maximum effort.

      9. Absence of Documentation

      Virtual hiring is a sector with many security issues so play it safely. Without proper documentation, you cannot expect professionalism and time-bound work delivery by virtual assistants. 

      Every company has their own set of procedures for each task and responsibilities. Create a Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) to convey such procedures effectively to the virtual assistant. Keep in mind that it is not just a matter of improving work quality. SOP must state sufficient safety procedures to ensure data security. Moreover, it must act as a guide to save them from making costly mistakes.

      10. Not knowing when to put an end

      If you have tried out all the tips and still the output of the assistant is not satisfactory, you must know how to wash your hands of it. Every employee must produce his expected output to run the company. If they fail to do so even after your best attempts, there is only one way out of it- termination. So, do not be emotional while making your decision.

      One of the biggest mistakes made by companies, especially start-ups, is continuing a stagnant relationship which just worsens the scenario for both the assistant and the company. Such a situation will result in a loss of time and effort for both parties.

      How to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

      Many of these mistakes happen because of a lack of knowledge or carelessness. But if you have a clear plan and strategy, hiring a virtual assistant could be an excellent choice for your business. Have a look at some tips to follow while hiring a VA:

      • Define the Scope: The first thing you need to do before hiring a VA is to figure out what exactly you expect from them. Try to be as specific as possible. In this way, you can avoid scope creep, one of the most pressing issues while handling a virtual assistant. 
      • Frequent Communication: establishing a strong communication channel solves half the problem related to virtual task management. Regular communication through meetings, chats, and calls is required for effective workflow. Consider setting up software for collaboration purposes like Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc.
      • Set the Deadlines: You must set clear deadlines for each task. Inform it to your Virtual Assistant while assigning the work. Moreover, let him know the Key Performance Indicators(KPIs) against which the work is reviewed. This way, you can ensure that the assistant tries his maximum to produce high-quality work within the deadline.
      • Choose the Best Platform: In case you are hiring a virtual assistant for the first time, you may need external help. And many hiring platforms offer solutions for that. Some provide you with just top talents only. Some even take a step further by allocating a dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM) to manage your work. For more information, check out our blog on the 5 best websites to hire a virtual assistant.

      Is it worth hiring a Virtual Assistant?

      After coming across all these challenges and solutions, you might be thinking whether hiring a VA is worth all these troubles. Well, it is. As per stats, 50% of the US workforce is predicted to be virtual professionals by 2028. That means despite all these challenges, more and more companies are continuing to hire virtual assistants. Why? Because the benefits are mind-blowing. Let’s have a look at them:

      • Save time by handling repetitive administrative tasks.
      • Save costs by working remotely and charging only for the hours they work.
      • Increase productivity by allowing company employees to focus more on core activities.
      • Expand the brand reach by working across various time zones.

      Final Words

      Well, hiring a virtual assistant is not as big a deal as you might think. All you need to do is just to stay away from these common mistakes. 

      If you have already made some mistakes, don’t let it stop you from hiring again. Learn from those mistakes and play safely the next time. Last but not least, regularly communicate with the virtual assistant to make sure that you are on the right track. That’s all.

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