• Lizzi Williams

4 Questions To Ask A VA & What Order To Ask Them In

So you’ve finally been able to admit that you’re missing out on too much at home. Isn’t it liberating to realise that you actually want some help to stay on top of things?


Isn’t it amazing to think that in no time at all you’ll be spending quality time with your family? Your dream doesn’t need to be a dream anymore, it can be a reality.


Taking that first step is the hardest. Once you’ve made up your mind, the rest is a breeze. You’re going to write, and place, a job ad and you’re going to find someone to help you get out of your office and into the wide world of ballet 🩰, footy 🏉 or weekend brunches 🍳 🥓!


So, you’re here, the ad has been posted. You’re waiting with anticipation for that one perfect person. Let’s be honest for a few seconds though... You’ve more than likely been bombarded with offers and ‘pick me’ responses. It’s overwhelming and you might even be thinking … shit 💩, what have I done?


STOP 🛑


Breathe!


It’s OK. Just take my advice and you WILL be fine.


In my own, personal, opinion, there are 4 questions that you need to ask. By asking them in a specific order you’re going to save yourself a lot of work.


What might surprise you is that of the 4 questions I think you need to ask, 2 of them don’t need to be asked out loud. You need to put some time aside to do the research yourself.


Are you intrigued?


Over the last few months I have become impressed and shocked over the varying levels of quality out there to choose from. That’s why I wanted to share these questions with you. To save you from the less-than-quality applicants out there.


Question 1:


What is their email address?

Whilst, in my opinion, a website is essential, I don’t think it should be your final judgement call. We’re not all tech heads. As long as it’s neat, tidy and has contact information, I think you’re good.

The first thing you should be looking at is their email address. Have they taken the time, and made the investment, to buy their email domain name to match their website?



When someone hands me a business card with mybusinessname]@hotmail/gmail/yahoo.com on it … I automatically think a little less of that business.


I know it’s judgmental ⚖ but if they have a website they should take pride in their branded domain, too. It costs about $9 per month on Google to have your email personalised to your domain. It looks and feels professional.


Think about if this person is going to be emailing your contacts on your behalf, directly from their own inbox? What do you think looks better?


If you were to sideline every application that has a generic email address, and focussed only on those with professional email addresses, you will already have removed up to (if not more) than 50% of your applicants.


By all means keep those details to one side as back-up but, honestly, it’s a real turn off for me.



Question 2:


How do their business socials look?


As I’ve already said, having a website is important but activity on social media platforms and the way your applicant engages with their audience is just as important.


So, what are you supposed to look for?


A proper profile picture – can you see their face?


Are their branding and business colours present?


Content: what is your applicant posting about? It is a well-known fact that social media should be about 80% value and 20% sell.


Do you see valuable content? Are you learning from their posts? Having valuable content lets your applicant show and share their knowledge without boasting!


Are they polite? Do they post AND engage with their audience?


Someone who is using social media well, will have an engaged and varied audience. Look at the comments and who is making them. Hell, even get involved yourself and get first hand experience.



As you can see, these first 2 questions are like friendly stalking! All of the information is available at your fingertips and will take just a few minutes to help you get a shortlist of candidates.


This friendly stalking is expected, from both sides, so don’t be ashamed or nervous. Before I even apply for a job ad I take the time to research the person and the business they’re running.


So, that’s 2 questions down and you’ve cut at least 50% of the original applicants. BOOM! 💣 Look at that and you barely broke a sweat.


Your next step is to arrange a meeting or call with your remaining applicants. You need to get to know them and see if their personality and experience is going to work for you. This contact is expected, and you’ll find that the applicants have most likely already scanned their calendar to check when they’re free, so get organising.


We’re about to hit the 2 final questions here and I just need to state, for the record 🧾, that you probably don’t need to ask any of the standard interview-type questions. Remember this is a business relationship, not an employer/employee one.


You’ve already seen from their profiles, website and application the skills and experience they can offer you. You’ve experienced personality in their application and email/phone contact. You know what’s going on. You’re just in the final stages now.



Question 3:


When will you be available to complete my work?


This is an interesting one. What you have to remember is that unless you’re hiring this person in a full-time capacity, they are not going to be available to you all day, every day. Your applicant is a professional and is experienced in what they do. They will know, from the get-go, whether your needs can be taken care of during or outside of business hours.


Trust in that knowledge. Your insight is very one sided and I’m here to tell you, very politely, of course, that most of the things you’ll need help with don’t need to be done during the standard 9-5pm.


What you need to keep in mind is what you’re hoping to achieve.


You want to spend more time with your family, outside of your office, outside of your business hours, so that’s where the support is going to come from, too.


Why do you think I do what I do? After hours business support is a real thing!


My business hours are 6:00pm – 10:00pm Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm Saturday and 9:00am – 3:00pm on Sundays. That's when you're going to be having dinner 🥘 with your family, dropping off or picking up from ballet 🩰 practice, or out watching that footy 🏉 or cricket 🏏 match.



And now we’re down to the most important question. It’s a touchy one and, unfortunately, one that usually gets asked WAY too early in most instances.


Question 4:


What do you charge?


Just as you will not be asked, “how much are you going to pay me?” in an application, this should NEVER be the first question you ask.


Please don’t get me wrong, I know that cost is a factor in any business, I should know, I run my own (!) but keep in mind what it is that you’re really hoping to achieve.


During your correspondence and meeting, your applicant should have had a chance to get to know you, your business and your overall goals. It’s time to have the difficult conversation.


You need to be open about your budget, at the right time. It means that your applicant can build a package, or quote, that is going to suit your needs based on your desired outcome and keeping your values in mind.


Your applicant will, at this point, be doing everything they can to meet as many of your needs as possible so, remember, if they come in right on budget it’s because they’re trying to solve all of your problems!


If you feel that your top budget isn’t where you want to start, ask what can be changed to bring down the price.


It’s all about openness and honesty.


You’re ready!


It’s time to spread your wings 🦅, go out and find your match. Start spending more time with your family and enjoying more brunches!


If you’d like a copy of my interview checklist just pop me an email (lizzi@theinvisiblepa.com.au).


If I was to leave you with one thought, let it be this:


I cannot stress enough, and it’ said with the utmost respect for everyone out there in their own field…


“Don’t expect to work with an expert if you aren’t willing to pay for the expertise.”

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