How We Recruited 57 Rockstar Virtual Assistants (So You Don’t Have To)

When building a marketplace, the pro’s and venture capitalists suggest that you artificially build one side before inviting the other to the platform. Presumably to avoid their disappointment in arriving at a barren land. We chose to do so with the “supply side” of Virtual Valley: Virtual Assistants. 

Thus, we have spent the past 6 months searching for, interviewing and recruiting over 100 Virtual Assistants from the Philippines.

This post will take you through exactly what how we did so with just two resources: Zandro and myself.

Who This Post Will Help:

  • Anyone looking to expand their online team
  • Anyone running an online business that expects growth
  • Anyone running an online business that is not growing, but wants to grow

How To Read This Post:

  • Read through in full to give an overview and then jump back to sections when actually recruiting
  • If you are experienced in recruiting virtual assistants, then jump to relevant sections using the content table below

Overview

Before we jump into the 5 Step Rockstar Virtual Recruitment Process we defined, I wanted to quickly address a question I was brutally subject to when pitching the idea for this post to a friend:

Why write a peice of content that effectively encourages readers to NOT use your platform?

The answer is simple.

I want to provide information for Entrepreneurs that will increase their chance of success in the world of online business, regardless of whether they use Virtual Valley (or not). As I believe that if you are honest, and genuinely add value to the world, this value will eventually make it back to you.

Let’s take this small company as an example:

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Google have built their success around being brutally honest and adding value to everyone that visits their search engine.

We all ask Google questions just like this on a daily basis:

how_can_I_make_my_blog_post_more_exciting_-_Google_Search

Google then says:

Well, I don’t actually know that much about blogging, but here are some people that do:

how_can_I_make_my_blog_post_more_exciting_-_Google_Search

And actually, here is one person that is so confident that they can help you, they are willing to pay to be clicked on:

how_can_I_make_my_blog_post_more_exciting_-_Google_Search

Compare this approach to the old and now dying “web portals” such as AOL and Yahoo that try fruitlessly to keep you on their property as long as possible to maximise ad impressions and it becomes obvious why Google is now the dominant force on the web.

We are taking the same approach: give your customers what THEY want, NOT what you want them to have.

Give your customers what THEY want, NOT what you want them to have. Click To Tweet

That said, if at any point during this LONG post you feel that you would like to take advantage of the long, hard hours we put in to find these 57 Rockstar Virtual Assistants, click here, and create an Entrepreneur account. Before we jump into the process let’s understand WHY it is important to get the “right people on the bus” as Jim Collins would say…

@JimCollins Said Let's Get The Right People On The Bus. Click To Tweet

Finding a virtual assistant that is a cultural fit for your online business AND the necessary skills is going to be hard.

If you spend 1 hour interviewing 3 candidates and recruit the one that you get on best with, it is likely that you will regret this in the next 6 months. You will be forced into spending more time (and money) on relevant training and will potentially have to fire them when their performance slips due to the cultural mismatch.

With every aspect of your business, you need to be looking for the ROI (return on investment). Investing a little more time on the recruitment process will pay you back significantly with cost and time savings associated with lower attrition in the future.

Ok, let’s get into 5 Step Rockstar Virtual Recruitment Process we defined during our tireless recruitment of 57 Rockstar Virtual Assistants over the past 6 months… 

Step 0 – Harvesting

Yes, I just used the term harvesting to describe the process for gathering applicants to your open role…

Why not use the term harvesting to describe the process for gathering applicants? Click To Tweet

It seems fitting as you will plant seeds in various locations on the internet, wait a few days, and will “harvest” the results. The seed will be sown in the form of a Job Description.

But we won't be calling it a Job Description, we will be calling it a Job Mission. Click To Tweet

Each Virtual Assistant within your online business must have Job Mission aligned with the vision of your company. For example, Virtual Valley’s mission is to give Entrepreneurs back 1 million hours of their time by 2018 (and to be acquired for $4m in the same timeframe).

So, whenever I look to recruit a new Virtual Assistant, I ensure that every task and process that the new Virtual Assistant will undertake, will draw us closer to this vision.

Exercise 1: Write youR Job Mission

It is important to remember to Start With Why, as you want to attract Virtual Assistants that resonate with “Why” you do things and are not just focussed on financial motives.

Enter your email address here and I will send you over the Job Mission that we used when recruiting our first Virtual Assistants to work for Virtual Valley itself, not the supply side of the marketplace. We now need to sow this seed far and wide to maximise our harvest, here are the channels that we used:

  • Company Social Media – Tweet/Update a link to your Job Mission page on your website

 

  • Company Email List – Email out a link to your list asking fro referrals

 

 

  • OnlineJobs.ph/EasyOutsource.ph/BestJobs.ph – Create paid accounts and post Job Mission

 

 

  • UpWork/Freelancer/PeoplePerHour/Guru – Create free accounts and post Job Mission

 

 

  • Craigslist – Create free accounts and post Job Mission

 

 

  • Referrals From Existing Employees – Ask your existing Virtual Assistants for referrals

 

 

  • Friends – Ask your online business friends for referrals

 

 

We found that the most effective channel was to ask existing Virtual Assistants for referrals within their network. Think about it… If you have already found someone that has the skills and culture fit for your business, it is likely that they hang around with people similar to themselves.

Before you jump in, it is also to remember that recruitment is a two way selling process: each candidate is selling themselves to you, but the A Players will also be being sold to by your competitors.

Thus it is important to build “selling” into your recruitment process to ensure that the A Players in your industry see you as the “place to work”. Here is a couple of examples of how we did this:

  • Filipino VA’s are motivated heavily by job security, we therefore were very clear about the fact that if a Virtual Assistant was accepted onto the platform, we would help them find a role for the rest of their online working career

 

  • Created an interesting, varied group of representative Test Tasks

 

 

  • Used my “online celebrity” shown through articles/videos about other businesses to build authority for the platform

 With this in mind, move onto:

EXERCISE 2: Distribute YOUR JOB MISSION

 

Step 1 – Screening

In order to screen (or even to recruit!) effectively, you need to understand which competencies and characteristics you would want your ideal VirtualVirtual Assistant to embody. Here is a list of ours:

  • Resourcefulness

 

  • Inquisitiveness

 

 

  • Experience

 

 

  • Organisation

 

 

  • First Impression

 

 

  • Customer Focus

 

 

  • Communication

 

 

  • Excellence

 

 

  • Like-ability

 

 

  • Listening

 

 

  • Energy

 

 

  • Reliability

 

 

  • Enthusiasm

 

 

Here you will need to refer back to your Job Mission to determine the characteristics and competencies that will enable your Virtual Assistant to contribute to the desired end result for your company.

EXERCISE 3: Determine your Desired competencies/characteristics

 

Obviously, each of these characteristics will not be equally important for the job mission so your next task is to assign a weighting (between 0 and 1.0) for each competency/characteristic.

EXERCISE 4: Add weighting to Each COMPETENCy/CHARACTERISTIC

 

At each stage in the 5 Step Rockstar Virtual Recruitment Process you will be assessing one of these competencies/characteristics. You need to keep things organised during the recruitment process:

Recruitment_Master_Plan_-_Google_Sheets

We built a tracker that automates the whole recruitment process with minimal input from your or your hiring manager and will spit out a final rating for each candidate. Click here, enter you email address and I will send it over to you.

You then need to determine which competencies/characteristics you will focus on in each stage and then assign a question to each one.

You can see in the image above we chose to asses: Experience, Organisation and First Impression in the Screening stage with the following questions:

  • How well written is their CV? (spelling, grammar, mistakes)
  • How does the layout of their CV make you feel?

How does the layout of their CV make you feel? Click To Tweet

  • How professional is their cover photo?
  • Do they have experience as a GVA?
  • Did they use the right subject line?
  • Do they have any relevant qualifications?

Colour the template in green where you will need to input a value, this will help with calculations later. Once you start to Screen your applicant CV’s, create a tab for each and give each a score out of 10 for each of the questions you decide to assess.

EXERCISE 5: Screen And Track Your Applicants

 

The Virtual Recruitment Tracker will calculate the average score of each applicant for the Screening round then you will need to determine the percentage of Virtual Assistants you take through to the Initial Interview.

Due to the high quality of candidates we Screened, we took 80% through to the next stage.

Step 2 – Initial Video Interview

For all of those that pass your Screening, set up an Initial Video Interview as soon as possible, let’s keep this efficient.

As with the screening round, you will most likely focus on specific competencies/characteristics as shown below:

Recruitment_Master_Plan_-_Google_Sheets

During the 10-15 minute video (this is important!) interview, we chose to assess:

  • Resourcefulness
  • Inquisitiveness
  • First Impression
  • Customer Focus
  • Communication
  • Excellence
  • Like-ability
  • Energy
  • Reliability
  • Enthusiasm

With the following questions:

  • Do they ask questions/seem interested?
  • Are they happy/smiling?
  • Are they easy to understand?
  • Is the first minute of the conversation enjoyable?
  • Do they understand when you explain Virtual Valley?
  • “What do you do outside of work?”
  • “Do you have siblings? If yes, how many? and older or younger?” (more younger siblings = higher reliability)
  • “Are you religious?” (more religious = higher reliability)
  • “How long do you expect to work with Virtual Valley?”
  • “What have you done in the last 12 months to improve your skills?”

Interview Question: What have you done in the last 12 months to improve your skills? Click To Tweet

  • “Describe your ideal position and what makes it ideal?”
  • “Give examples of your going beyond what was normally expected to make a clients life better?”
  • “What motivates you?”
  • “If you had a question for your client but they were not available, what would you do?”

You will need to design questions that assess your specific competencies/characteristics.

EXERCISE 6: Perform AND TRACK initial interview with APPLICANTS 

 

It is very important to update the spreadsheet and record notes LIVE in the interview, as after the third one in 30 minutes, it will be hard to remember details.

If possible, I would hire a recruitment manager (or your current Virtual Assistants) to host the initial interview, to improve your time efficiency and to provide two opinions for each candidate.

Step 3 – Competency Video Interview

It is now time to introduce a school of recruitment thought called TopGrading…

It was pioneered at General Electric with Jack Welch and is the brain child of Brad Smart. Over at Topgrading.com they outline a VERY detailed process for recruiting manager to high level executives in multinational corporations.

Now I’m not saying that our hires are less crucial than those, but I am saying that we can streamline this process, here are the two primary principles:

1. Deep Dive Into Each Previous Employment

For each previous role, ask the following questions and leave room for the candidate to elaborate:

Tell me more about X position?

Then dig into:

  • Successes
  • Failures
  • Responsibilities
  • Least favourite part
  • Most favourite part

As you repeat this for each role you will start to see patterns of behaviour which will be more reliable than simply asking someone what their strengths/weaknesses are.

2. Use a TORC (Threat Of A Reference Check)

At the end of the interview, ask these two questions:

If we asked your boss about your strengths/weaknesses what would he/she say?

Then say:

Ok, if we wanted to speak to your ex boss to check a couple of details, would you be happy to put us in touch?

This question is sure to eliminate any B or C players that have slipped through your process as it is often only A players that maintain solid relationships with previous bosses.

2nd interview

We chose to assess the following:

  • Inquisitiveness
  • Experience
  • First Impression
  • Communication
  • Like-ability
  • Reliability

With these questions:

  • Do they ask questions/seem interested?
  • Are they happy/smiling?
  • Are they easy to understand?
  • Is the first minute of the conversation enjoyable?
  • Do they understand when you explain Virtual Valley?
  • “Tell me more about X position” (successes, failures, responsibilities, least favourite part, most favourite part) (Repeat for each role)
  • “Why did you leave X position?” (Repeat for each role)
  • “If we asked your boss about your strengths/weaknesses what would he/she say?” (Repeat for each role)

It is in this 30-40 minute interview that you can really dig down into the experience of your potential Virtual Assistant using the previous experience question listed above.

EXERCISE 7: Perform AND TRACK Competency INTERVIEW WITH APPLICANTS

 

Once you have input data into the Virtual Recruitment Tracker, a score out of 10 for each candidate is calculated, again, it is down to you to decided the proportion of potential Virtual Assistants you will invite to the next stage.

Step 4 – Test Task

You now you have a good idea about how your potential Virtual Assistant is as a person, it’s now time to assess their ability and experience.

You need to design a set of tasks that replicate typical opportunities that the Virtual Assistant would experience on an average day in the role. They should take 1-2 hours (no longer as we will not be offering any renumeration for these) and should have enough guidelines to be clear but also leave room for initiative (especially if this is one of your chosen competencies/characteristics).

Do not be afraid to include specific details in your Test Task, this will help to assess for Attention To Detail (obviously!) and Excellence. We do so by specifying certain subject lines to use in emails and formatting guidelines.

Click here, submit your email and I will send you the details of the Test Task we send to each of our potential Virtual Assistants when they reach this stage of their application.

Test Task

EXERCISE 8: Define, Share AND TRACK Test Task WITH APPLICANTS

 

Step 5 – References

For those applicants that have scored highest in each of the 4 previous sections, you can now request that they introduce you via email to one of more previous bosses/managers.

Once introduced, shoot them a quick email with no more than 3 questions, remember, they do not have to comply, so be grateful and brief.

We wanted to check:

  • Experience
  • Communication
  • Reliability

So asked:

  • Regarding details/dates/responsibilities of that specific role
  • “How was the communication of X?”
  • “How reliable was X?”

References

Again, document the responses in the form of a number between 1 and 10 in your Virtual Recruitment Tracker.

EXERCISE 9: Follow up with AND TRACK references

 

Offer

The Virtual Recruitment Tracker will combine each rating, the weighting for each competency/characteristic and will produce and summary score for each candidate that passed through each stage of the process.

Recruitment_Master_Plan_-_Google_Sheets

It this then useful to have a summary meeting with each member of your team that was involved in the recruitment process to summarise and to decide which of the candidates should receive an offer.

Once the decision is made, I then recommend having a one on one call with EVERY potential Virtual Assistant that made their way through the full process to give feedback and to present the offer (if they have been chosen).

This is important, as you want each and every applicant that has passed through your process to be in a better place afterwards, regardless of whether they we successful or not.

Leave Each Applicant In A Better Place, Regardless Of Their Success In the Process. Click To Tweet

This will also help the word of mouth spread for your business and is the nice thing to do.

EXERCISE 10: give feedback and offer to every candidate

Summary

Ok, so there is a Step By Step guide to recruit Virtual Assistants.

But lets face it, there is a lot of work to do/things that could go wrong especially if you are not experienced with interviewing.

In fact, you probably have better things to do like:

  • Finding customers
  • Making your existing customers happy
  • Spending time with your friends and family

Which is exactly why we have spent the past 6 months recruiting Virtual Assistants, just for you.

Therefore, you would like to take advantage of our investment in recruitment and hire a Virtual Assistant through the Virtual Valley Platform: click here and get hiring!

And finally, if you have a friend that is struggling with the growth of his virtual business, use the social icons below to send this article over, you could change their life, seriously…