Knockout the fat to get to the lean meat!

With outsourcing rapidly becoming the modus operandi for many smart Australian businesses, it’s vital that we have a process to follow to ensure we find the best possible candidates when we are hiring virtual assistants. Here we will take you through the George Foreman step by step plan to get the right assistants behind the right virtual desks!

It’s called the George Foreman way because you subject your prospective employees to a little grilling before selecting them! And if they can’t stand the heat they’d better get out of the kitchen!

Before you even get to thinking about who you’d like to hire, however, you need to decide on a few basics. What needs to be done? What’s the estimated timescale for the job? This is the same as you would do if you were an offline business. It’s good common-sense business practice to draw up a plan of a typical working week for the assistant, along with a job description covering all their expected tasks, so don’t skip this step in the belief that the rules change because you’re “online”.

What you may find, if you don’t plan out their specific work tasks, is that you end up just passing jobs to them to keep them busy (because you’re paying them anyway) and it can end up being less than productive in terms of the overall outcome you want to achieve.

Once you know what needs to be done you can concentrate on the ideal person required to fill that role. What characteristics would make up the perfect candidate? These will be a mixture of personal traits (honesty, integrity, good work ethic), which are just as important as the professional traits and work experience that gives them the ability to do the tasks. In fact, with hiring virtual assistants it’s sometimes even more important to get the right personal qualities because you have to place more trust in them to work without any supervision.

So you can see there’s quite a lot to consider before we even write the job ad, which is the next step in the process. This should be a tailored ad – meaning that, having considered the type of person you need to fill the post, you now need to make sure your ad is aimed at them. It’s like using the right type of bait to catch a particular fish!

Once the ad is complete you need to post it on the online job sites – this might be on Job Street for a permanent position or on oDesk or Elance for short-term task-based positions. All of these sites have a large Asian focus that means that it’s easy to find virtual workers at very reasonable rates.

The next step, once you have your flood of applicants for your position, is to pre-screen the resumes. You need to begin the task of narrowing down your candidates. Often you can get a good feel for a person by how they present themselves on their resume. You can immediately discard ones that have not been proofread or come with a poorly written cover letter/email, for example. You know what you’re looking for and attention to detail is normally one of the desired traits – if they cannot be attentive to detail on their resume it’s unlikely they will be the right person for you.

Once you have weeded out the better applications you can provide questionnaires to the applicants to check responsiveness and English ability: the latter needs to be done as most Australian businesses will be dealing mainly with Asians. Once you are satisfied with this you can further narrow down the field by giving them some tasks to complete to check competency levels for the types of work they will be doing for you as a virtual assistant.

Finally this may leave you with 3 or 4 of the best applicants that you are ready to interview. Nowadays this can be done by Skype, as you will find that many virtual assistants have this function. We recommend the Topgrading style of interviewing, which is quite an intense style of interview aimed at identifying the top 10% of performers when you are hiring virtual assistants. This is where the George Foreman method really kicks in, as it can be quite a grilling!

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