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Virtual Assistant: The Interview

Virtual Assistant: The Interview
This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Virtual Assistant

You’ve come this far, all on your own, now comes the big moment: the face-to-virtual-face interview. I have to admit, I was a little nervous.

I read through Virtual Staff Finders FAQs, I listened to Chris Ducker’s podcast, I went through my job description again, had my interview questions ready in front of me and I carefully read through the CVs of the three candidates. I was as ready as I was going to be.

The calls were to be on Skype and I didn’t know if that meant video or just audio. I was hoping for video as you can learn more from a person through their gestures and facial expressions. It was just about time to go and I chatted on Skype with my first candidate.

Video (or in-person) interviews allow you to get a much better idea of the character of the interviewee

We decided on video and it made a big difference. I could see them laughing, thinking, as well as how they reacted when the audio went out once. It was also helpful just to get an idea of their surroundings and state of mind. Hopefully they felt the same connection. Only my third interview didn’t use the camera. Too bad, but his English was so much better that it made up for it.

I won’t go into detail about each interview, but it was quite a wide range of personalities, experience, and confidence in just the three people. Two of them were younger and had less experience whereas the third clearly had more confidence and more experience. That made a big difference in helping me decide who to choose.

Confidence comes out–or doesn’t–when fronted with open-ended questions

I kept in mind that I’m hoping for a long-term relationship with one of these guys, so communication was key. The third one had a much more comfortable grasp of English which meant we could talk more deeply about certain subjects. Our back and forth question and answer was more smooth and I got the sense that there wasn’t that delay that comes with on-the-fly translation that comes with second languages. The open-ended questions brought about thought-out responses and in a few cases, surprisingly knowledgeable ones. Once I was floored to hear a response that I had no idea about–but was a superb idea. That’s a great sign when they know more about a topic than you do.

I never regret meeting clients in person and here with the job interviewees, I had the same feeling. It really made it clear who would be the best candidate and now that they’re done, I know who I’m going to choose.

When you find a candidate who knows more than you do about certain topics, you’re on the right track.

When I got off that final call, I had a thought I haven’t had in a while: I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I found someone who can help me dig out of my endless quicksand pit of work to get on top of it, maybe, gasp, get ahead, and be available to be proactive (pro what?) and work on my business instead of in my business.

I’m not going to get my hopes up too high just yet, but at the moment, I’m giddy.

Series Navigation<< Virtual Assistant: Interview QuestionsForce Yourself to Delegate >>


  1. Grady

    Hi Bradley,

    How did this end up working out for you? Very curious as I am looking doing the same.

    • Bradley

      Hi Grady,
      Thanks so much for the comment.
      It’s been going very well! I do need to update this series with some “after the hire” posts about how it’s been going. Bottom line: I can’t complain. I’m getting lots more work done–and I’m finally doing less of the actual work.
      That said, there is loads where I can improve. Communication, expectations, but mostly something about being clear about “Here is Task 1 and I’d like you to do it this way.” So take a super simple example, “Drive from San Francisco to Tahoe, by car, and go via Sacramento.” rather than just saying, “Go to Tahoe from San Francisco.” Maybe they fly, take the train, leave Thursday, etc.
      Thanks again for the note as it reminds me that I need to update this series!

      • Grady

        Thanks for the update.

        I think your little example is spot on and I can relate with a long ago attempt at outsourcing (just for 1 task though).

        I’ve used this analogy to explain other things and it only just dawned on me how it relates to this and where I have gone wrong in the past:

        If you step back in time a thousand years and compare fishing boats from around the world you would quickly note that they varied greatly between cultures yet all served the same purpose of catching fish to feed people. Yet if a European ordered a fishing boat from a builder in China, specifying only that it be the finest fishing boat he builder ever made, the European would be greatly disappointed because the boat wouldn’t have resembled anything he was accustomed to. However, to the Chinese boat builder it could very well have represented the best of everything he had ever learned.

        Now fast forward to a couple of years ago:
        Me to a provider in India: Could you duplicate X site in WordPress, look, content, etc? Essentially a complete copy.
        Provider: Certainly, we can have it done in a couple of days.

        Upon delivery:
        Me: It’s perfect except you completely customized the Twenty Eleven theme instead of using a child theme.
        Provider: This is how we do things and we didn’t know you wanted a child theme.

        The provider gave me exactly what I had asked for and I have to say aside from the fact that if the client ever updated his theme it would result in complete destruction of his website, it was a damn good copy. A bit more time spent on process and expectations, literally like 15 minutes more time, could have avoided this.

        • Bradley

          Wow, LOVE the boat analogy! It’s just perfect. Then your WordPress example is spot on as well–and painful as I’ve had the same experience.

          In fact, it’s part of my goals with a new site I’ve been working on quite a bit lately: WPU. It’s really about standards (although that’s kind of hidden as no one really cares about it “on the surface of things”). I’m trying to use/build/keep to standards for clients and their sites (by all using WOO Themes Canvas) but at the same time, I want the site to become a place where I could also send any designer and programmer and say, “Here’s exactly how I’d like you to do Task X.”

          In fact, since you’re a WordPress guy, you’ll appreciate this one: Different Sliders on Different Pages with the Business Slider Template. As you can imagine, there are 27 different ways to get different sliders on top of different pages: conditional CSS, PHP, some plugin, custom fields, etc. But I’d like to use the Canvas (business) slider because (1) I know it, (2) I know how easy it is for the client to use and update it and (3) it does the job. #3 is important, but I almost think #2 is more important. Just like you said with your Twenty Twelve example, “Thanks for the beautiful site! Oh, I can never update it? Oh.”

          I’m learning, I’m getting there, I’m not there, but I’m learning. 😉


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