As a business owner, you likely struggle with finding time each day to do all the things on your to-do list. If you wish that you had someone who could do all the small tasks, giving you more time to focus on growing your business, you might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant is an employee or freelance office assistant that works remotely in an administrative role. They could be located anywhere and may work for you full-time or they may have several other leaders that they do work for in any given week. 

At my company Maui Mastermind, we teach our business-coaching clients how to find and hire the perfect virtual assistant in three steps:

Step 1: Get Clear on The Role Description.

The key is to get very clear on what tasks you would like them to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and put it down on paper. Be realistic about your expectations here. A lot of business owners want the perfect candidate. You want someone who is tech savvy, yet creative. Someone who follows directions well yet needs no directions. Which is why it's imperative that you write out what tasks are expected each week. Taking the extra step will help you separate what is needed versus what you think an "ideal" employee looks like.

Here is an example of some items in a role description we recently used for a marketing virtual assistant hire:

  • Sending e-letters via our chosen software.

  • Creating a content calendar.

  • Posting to syndicated sites following processes.

  • Social media management.

Step 2: Get Clear on What an 'Ideal Candidate' Looks Like.

Once you have a good idea of what your candidate will be doing on a daily basis, you then want to get clear on what your ideal candidate looks like.

Here is what we used for the marketing virtual assistant role. The first few items are must-haves, while the remaining items are nice-to-haves.

A word of caution here, as I have seen it time and time again with clients and business leaders: Do not make a hiring decision based on how well you like the person. The virtual assistant could be a very nice individual, organized, and well spoken. But at the end of the day, if they don't have your must-haves you shouldn't hire them.

Must haves:

  • Strong communicator, especially in writing. Must be fluent and clear in English when writing. 

  • Process-oriented, good at using systems, refining systems, and can learn to create systems over time.

  • Has initiative. Okay with some ambiguity and figuring out tasks on their own. Must be detail oriented.

Good to haves:

  • Long-term fit.

  • Looking for 30-40 hours of work a week.

  • Learns fast and has a growth mindset.

Step 3: Come Up With 3-5 Test Projects.

Give each candidate 3-5 test projects to do within a certain period of time, giving every candidate the exact same tasks, and offer to pay their hourly rate for the time spent doing those tasks.

For the marketing position in question, we gave the following tasks to the top five candidates:

  1. Figure out how to list and publish a course on Udemy or Coursera and write out the instructions, complete with screenshots in a Word document. 

  2. Rewrite a piece of existing content for SEO purposes using a specified set of keywords.

  3. Write five social media posts for Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn promoting an upcoming webinar. Please create corresponding graphics using Canva or Photoshop. 

  4. Update an e-letter template--changing the graphic, call to action, and subject line.

  5. Write a summary paragraph for one of our YouTube videos for an e-letter campaign.

Not only will the results of the test projects help you see if the virtual assistant is able to do the things that they said they could in their resume, but will also give you good insight into how they process information and work independently.

One candidate may require additional information or details regarding one of the test projects you set forth. While this doesn't automatically disqualify them for the position, it should be something that you consider when you look at how you handle your own workflow and leadership style. Are you a hands-on boss that likes to keep tabs on your employees and follow up often? Or do you like to give someone a project, and let them run with it? If you are the latter, the person who needed a lot of clarification might not be a good fit for you.

A good virtual assistant can save you hours per day, freeing up your time to focus on growing and scaling your business. With a little bit of effort and the steps listed above, you can find the perfect person to compliment your leadership style and needs.