I’m happy to say that we’ve shared a ton of information in our blog and on our YouTube channel about VAs. We’ve talked about where to find VAs, how to interview them and even how to manage them. But how do you know a good VA from a bad one? Well, this time, I want to talk about the qualities that I look for in a virtual assistant. Perhaps my experiences will be of help to you as you undergo your own selection process.
As with everything else I share with you on this blog, I’ll preface it by saying my experience is generally with overseas VAs, based in the Philippines. But the following list is intentionally general, as any given virtual assistant position is highly specialised to the unique needs of the business, and to the employer. And so, it would easily apply to VAs based in any corner of the world.
So, without further ado, here are 5 qualities of a great virtual assistant.
1. Good Educational Foundation
To be a good virtual assistant, a person doesn’t need to be an exert in your field. But they do need to have a solid foundation of education. They have to be numerate. They need a basic understanding of business principles. And so, I would always look for a bachelor’s degree for a VA. At Virtual Done Well, which is my own virtual assistant business, all of our VAs have at least a bachelor’s degree.
2. Computer Literacy
A VA doesn’t have to be a computer expert, by any means. They don’t have to have extensive technical knowledge and expertise with software products like PowerPoint, Excel and Word. Remember, there’s a significant probability that your specific business will have industry-specific software tools that your VA won’t be familiar with off the bat, anyway. But for me, a candidate for a new VA should be used to – and comfortable with – using a PC. They should be accustomed to using an assortment of different types of programs, and they need to have an aptitude for it, so that they can learn new programs quickly. So, computer literacy is really important to me.
3. Positive & Proactive Attitude
This, to me, is one of the most important qualities of a virtual assistant. All of the people in my team are very positive and very proactive. I currently have 7 VAs working for me personally, and 11 in support of the business. And then, I own a VA business that supports other businesses. With such a big team, helping me to run five different businesses, I don’t want to be looking over everybody’s shoulder on an hourly or daily basis, seeing what they’re doing. So, I’m very lucky that all of my team are very proactive. They know what to do, and they get on with it. I also have a very good executive assistant who oversees that team. I don’t have to communicate with every member of the team all the time. There’s a degree of delegation, and a degree of trust, that they’re getting on with doing the right things. But to accomplish that, you need people with a natural drive to find solutions solve problems on their own.
4. Curious & Inquisitive Nature
Another thing I look for in a good virtual assistant is whether or not the person is keen to learn new things. So, when I’m interviewing a VA for a particular role, I’m always asking them what other things they would like to do. That’s because it’s great to give people opportunities to learn new skills, and to try other things. I love asking questions like, “How are we going to do this particular thing?” And then, I get answers from my team of curious VAs about software tools they’ve heard about but haven’t tried yet. Then they go and try them out and get back to me. And so, a continual learning and improvement culture is really important.
5. Open and Honest Communication
On this point, I’m not just referring to written and verbal communication. What I mean is openness in communication. I’m talking about honesty and transparency. Trust is a really important element in your VA relationship. And that requires a lot of open communication. You don’t want to have a VA that is afraid to upset you because they don’t know something? How about someone who is worried they can’t meet your deadline, but then they don’t tell you because they’re scared? That’s a toxic environment that will only have negative consequences. What you want is a very open, honest, transparent and communicative relationship, where your VA isn’t afraid to say, “Hey Rob, I didn’t quite understand what you wanted then.” They have to be confident to ask questions like, “Are you saying we’ve got to get this done by Thursday,” and then follow up with an honest, “That’s going to be a stretch.” That kind of feedback is important. With that, we can kind of negotiate the details to manage expectations and ensure that goals are attainable.
So, you need to have that kind of healthy and constructive communication in the relationship, and I’m very lucky to have that with all of my team.
In conclusion, there are five basic qualities that I look for in a VA – and for the most part, they’re not technical. The qualities you’re looking for are a basic foundation of good education and computer literacy, coupled with the character traits of a positive and proactive attitude, a curious and inquisitive nature and good, honest communication.
If you’re in need of a great virtual assistant, or you simply want to get more information about what Virtual Done Well can do for you and your business, please click here to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!