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As a business owner, you know how important it is to have the right people on your team. And that includes your virtual assistant.
But the reality is not all VAs are the same.
Some have specific virtual assistant qualities and skills that make them the perfect fit for your business. Others will just end up wasting your time and resources.
This means you need to be extra careful when choosing the best virtual assistant to work with.
Here are the qualities to look for when hiring your next VA.
Table of Contents
- Essential qualities to look for in a virtual assistant
- 1. Willingness to learn
- 2. Reliability
- 3. Communication skills
- 4. Attention to detail
- 5. Tech-savvy
- 6. Resourcefulness
- 7. Organization
- 8. Professionalism
- 9. Multitasking
- 10. Creativity
- 11. Time management
- 12. Problem-solving
- 13. Flexibility
- 14. Positive attitude
- 15. Collaboration
- 16. Trustworthiness
- 17. Adaptability
- 18. Proactivity
- 19. Openness to feedback
- 20. Active listening
- 21. Cultural awareness
- How to assess a VA’s qualities and skills
Essential qualities to look for in a virtual assistant
1. Willingness to learn
In my experience, one of the most important qualities of a virtual assistant is having a growth mindset.
Your assistant must be eager to learn new skills and grow with your business. They might enroll in online courses or proactively seek feedback to continuously improve their abilities.
If there are updates in your industry or new tools that you want to use, a growth-minded VA will be more than happy to study them.
When it comes to finding the best virtual assistant, you need someone you can count on.
They’ll not only meet deadlines with ease but also respond to your messages right away.
A reliable VA makes sure tasks get done so you won’t have to worry about following up all the time. In other words, they won’t leave you hanging.
3. Communication skills
In our new world of remote work, it’s more important than ever to look for a virtual assistant who is great in both written and verbal communication.
Whether it’s writing a well-crafted email or delivering a clear and concise phone call, your VA should be able to communicate their ideas well. Not just to you, but also to your customers.
This way, you can minimize any frustrating misunderstanding that slow down your business.
4. Attention to detail
Working with someone who pays attention to the nitty-gritty details can make all the difference in your business.
For example, you won’t have to worry about a detail-oriented VA posting a Facebook promo full of typos and an incorrect phone number.
You don’t want to hire someone who only does tasks for the sake of getting them done. Imagine how embarrassing it would be if your VA forgot to change the names before sending out a mass outreach email.
It goes without saying that since VAs work virtually, they also need to be knowledgeable about tech.
While they don’t need to be experts, your VA should have some level of skill with the right virtual assistant tools and software.
Let’s say your business relies on a specific CRM platform like Hubspot or Zendesk.
You’ll be pulling your hair out if you hire someone who doesn’t know how to use them. This goes for other tools as well.
A tech-savvy VA, on the other hand, can easily navigate new technologies as needed.
A resourceful virtual assistant can find creative solutions whenever a problem arises.
They’ll use their research skills to create new ways to streamline processes. And they’re always eager to come up with suggestions that can help your business.
This is huge. Instead of wasting time micromanaging and solving problems for your VA, they can proactively solve problems for you.
Organized virtual assistants can juggle multiple tasks and help keep your business running smoothly.
They might create detailed schedules, prioritize deadlines, or maintain a database of files. This ensures nothing falls through the cracks and you don’t miss any important tasks.
This is even more important if you yourself aren’t super organized. They can help you get your shiz together.
Quality virtual assistants treat your working relationship with care, just like any loyal employee.
Whether it’s a customer conversation or handling your brand on social media, you’ll never have to worry about them jeopardizing your reputation.
A multitasking VA might respond to emails while conducting research. Or even schedule appointments while updating spreadsheets.
They can handle all the random tasks you throw at them and maintain quality output.
Great VAs also know how to use project management tools like ClickUp to keep track of their work.
Virtual assistants with a creative flair can help bring fresh ideas and innovative solutions to the table.
They can also help with tasks like content creation or brainstorming marketing campaigns.
With another creative mind on your team, you’ll come up with new angles to find more customers.
11. Time management
Time management is especially important if your VA is juggling multiple clients.
Every VA has their own methods for managing time — from time-tracking tools to batching work and other productivity techniques.
As a business owner, what matters most to you is that your work gets done (and done well). So before hiring, ask candidates what techniques they use to manage their time and stay productive.
A virtual assistant who’s great at problem-solving can be a game-changer for your business.
No matter what hurdles come your way, you can trust your VA has the skills to keep things on track and moving forward.
Let’s say you’ve planned an email marketing campaign to spread the word about your new offer. But your email marketing software suddenly won’t send out the emails.
Your VA might find an alternative workaround by using a different email marketing tool. And while they do that, they’ll also reach out to the software support team for assistance.
This is the kind of resourceful thinking you want on your team.
When hiring a VA, you’re looking for someone who can adapt to changing tasks and priorities. And more importantly, someone who has the ability to work well under pressure.
A flexible VA might adjust their schedule to accommodate urgent requests or take on new responsibilities.
Someone who’s not willing to fine-tune their work habits may not be the one for your team.
14. Positive attitude
Maintaining a positive attitude is one of the most important soft skills your virtual assistant must have.
I would even say that it’s a crucial element for maintaining a healthy working relationship.
This is because a VA with a positive disposition brings energy and motivation to their work. And when they’re happy being part of your team, they’ll take more pride in their work.
The last thing you want is a virtual assistant who constantly complains about the work you give them.
But remember, there is a big difference between complaining and giving feedback though – don’t confuse the two!
A great virtual assistant is a team player. They understand the value of collaborating with you and everyone they work with.
You know your VA is a team-player when they:
- Offer constructive feedback
- Actively contribute their ideas
- Listen to other people’s perspectives
You know what they say, honesty is the best policy. The same thing is true when it comes to your virtual assistant.
See, there’s a lot of sensitive information that you’ll be handing over to your VA. These include passwords to your social media accounts and names in your email database.
If you get the vibe that something is “off” about a VA, it’ll be hard to outsource to them.
We’ve talked about flexibility in terms of schedule and priorities, but it’s also important that they can adapt to your business style in general.
For example, you want a VA with an open mind who isn’t stuck in their ways.
You might hire a virtual assistant to help you with writing or SEO tasks.
They may already have their own way of doing things, and if they can’t adapt to your style and requirements, your in for some headaches.
Proactive virtual assistants take initiative and anticipate your needs before they arise. In other words, they make your life a lot easier.
A few signs of proactivity in your VA include:
- Suggesting process optimizations
- Identify areas for improvement in your workflow
- Taking on additional responsibilities without being prompted
The opposite would be an assistant who sits around twiddling their thumbs whenever they finish the tasks you assigned them — not the type of person you want on your team..
19. Openness to feedback
Most virtual assistants say they’re great at handling feedback.
Better virtual assistants take that feedback and actually apply it to improve their performance.
And the BEST virtual assistants actively seek out constructive feedback themselves without waiting for you to give it.
20. Active listening
If you notice your VA takes detailed notes during meetings, restates information to confirm understanding, and responds thoughtfully to requests, that means they’re an active listener.
And the way I see it, an active listener separates a good VA from an awesome VA. They understand your needs and aren’t afraid to ask questions.
21. Cultural awareness
Cultural sensitivity is one of those underrated virtual assistant skills that most business owners tend to overlook.
But actually, it’s important for your VA to be aware of other people’s customs. Especially when they have to interact with diverse clients and partners from across the globe.
You don’t want your VA to accidentally offend a client because they used an inappropriate word.
How to assess a VA’s qualities and skills
Now that you know the top qualities a successful virtual assistant should have, you’ll need to check if a potential VA has what you’re looking for
Follow these 4 steps:
1. Review their resume and portfolio
Start by taking a close look at the VA’s resume and portfolio. This helps you better understand their skillset.
For example, if your VA has experience in project management, then you know they might be good at organization and multitasking.
2. Conduct a thorough interview
The interview allows you to gauge a VA’s communication skills and behavior.
For example, ask them to describe a time they worked with a team to overcome an obstacle, or an instance when they had to be adaptable in their last position
3. Check their references
Whether it’s a former employer or a satisfied client, checking the VA’s references is essential.
This not only helps you verify their claims but also provides valuable insight into their reliability and trustworthiness.
Ask about their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their ability to handle feedback.
If you’re tight on time, you don’t even have to contact their references. Just the act of asking your candidates to provide them can help weed out those who had issues in previous jobs.
4. Give them a skills test
There are plenty of VAs who can talk the talk.
But before hiring, make sure they can walk the walk.
To do this, design a paid trial assignment that measures the qualities and skills you’re looking for
For example, if you’re hiring a VA for customer support, have them draft an email response to a hypothetical customer issue.
If you’re hiring a social media manager, have them design 3 posts for an upcoming promotion.
Or if you’re hiring a programmer, have them build a small tool for you.
This is also an opportunity to test how fast they work. Pay them per hour, and ask them to track their hours.
If one candidate takes twice as long as another, you’ll get a good gauge of their experience and time management skills.
By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to finding the right virtual assistant who can bring value to your business.
Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered — where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.
His advice has been featured in Forbes, USA Today, Yahoo, MSN, Reader’s Digest, Condé Nast Traveler, and more.
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