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7 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Hiring a Virtual Assistant



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As my online business has grown over the years, I have felt the need to get some additional hands on board. Since I am big on being flexible, I didn’t want to hire someone as an employee and then worry about giving them a place to work or being there to monitor them. I decided to try my hands at hiring a virtual assistant (VA). While I have hired and worked with many virtual assistants so far, I made some basic mistakes when I hired my first VA last year.

Below, I have shared the seven mistakes I made that one must avoid when hiring a virtual assistant:

1. Not having a clear role for your Virtual Assistant

When I decided to hire a VA, my decision was driven by getting some work transferred to the VA. The mistake here was that I did not think about the exact work I would pass on to him/her.

So, I came across a VA on Facebook and interviewed him. While he seemed like a great guy with a good attitude, he was low on the skills part. Nonetheless, I considered hiring him and then training him on the job.

If I had a clear role in mind for my VA, I could have avoided hiring the VA I did, as he didn’t fit my criteria. But since there was none, I made the mistake of hiring him.

2. Not asking for previous work examples

No matter how great a VA looks, without prior work samples, you have no way to gauge the quality of his/her work. As a rule, always ask for samples. In case the VA doesn’t have related samples, you can ask him/her to do a little sample work for you and then gauge the quality.

3. Not training your Virtual Assistant

When hiring a VA, you must know that it will cost you money as well as some time in the beginning. Unless you have hired a highly skilled VA who is ready to hit the road from the very first day, you need to spend time training him/her. Remember that your business and your way of working is completely new to the VA and you need to hold their hand for the initial few weeks.

Having said that, you’re only helping the VA in areas of your business and your work. You shouldn’t train him/her on basic skills such as email writing, or Excel.

You don’t have to do it all by yourself.” – Whitney Wolfe

4. Not using the right tools

You need to have a system to keep the work going smoothly when working with a VA. When you have a system in place, keeping track of your VA’s work, giving them feedback, and planning ahead is a lot simpler.

Simple things such as creating a Google Drive or Dropbox folder for the VA’s work, using tools such Google Sheets, Slack, and Trello can really streamline your work and save a lot of time.

5. Not giving clear instructions and timely feedback

Your VA can’t read your mind. If you don’t give clear instructions, you shouldn’t expect high-quality work from their end. As a best practice, it helps in being crystal clear in your instructions. While you may find this time consuming, it’s a lot better than to get something low quality in need to rework.

Also, it’s is important to review your VA’s work and give them timely feedback. For the first few weeks, you can opt for daily short check-ins. This becomes a lot more important when you’re working with someone in a different time zone. If you don’t correct them in something when they make a mistake, you risk wasting another day.

6. Not being patient

Even if you hire a perfect candidate, he/she is likely to take time to acclimatize to your business and your style of working. While it’s a good practice to keep a strict tab on the VA’s work, you shouldn’t expect them to start firing on all cylinders from Day 1.

A reasonable expectation should be to transfer your work gradually to the VA (over the next few weeks or even months), and train them appropriately. You need to be patient in the initial days and understand that your VA may slowly cope up and perform as per your expectations.

“Patience is a virtue, and I’m learning patience. It’s a tough lesson.” – Elon Musk

7. Not calculating the ROI

When you invest in a VA, you need to have a clear idea on what benefit you’re looking for. For example, would hiring a VA allow you to expand your business, or would it allow you to delegate some work and focus on more important stuff.

Whatever the benefit, you need to think about the RoI (Return on Investment). Evaluate whether having a VA will help in generating a positive RoI or not. If you can’t peg a number to it, analyze whether the benefit of having a VA justifies the cost or not.

What are some mistakes you’ve made in hiring a VA? Comment below!

Sumit Bansal is an online entrepreneur and a spreadsheet expert. He has been recognized by Microsoft as the Most Valuable Professional (MVP) in MS Excel. He writes at and you can connect with him on Twitter. He has been featured on many blogs and publications including Problogger, Glassdoor, The Huffington Post, YourStory, and Indiehacker.

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