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Chapter
7

Make an interview guide

It’s time to start sifting through those applications, vetting candidates, and deciding which ones you want to interview. Then, you have to conduct the interviews. This can be a large undertaking, especially if you’ve never done it before. That’s why you need a solid plan.

Evaluate candidates fairly by using an interview guide

An interview guide gives you something to reference so all the information you need is right in front of you. It will help you evaluate candidates in a thorough, unbiased way and ensure that every minute you spend in an interview is used effectively.

VA interview process

Before you dig into creating an interview guide, you’ll need to decide on your interview process. A typical VA interview process looks like this: 

  1. Finding candidates

  2. Inviting some of them to an interview

  3. Scheduling a video chats

  4. Conducting the interviews via video chats

  5. Making an offer to your top candidate

Though phone interviews are common, I strongly suggest using video chat as it allows you to see a candidate’s face, observe their body language and facial expressions, and pick up on cues that you can’t over the phone. 

Exercise: Create your interview processes and guide

The most important part of the interview is assessing whether a candidate has the skills needed to complete the tasks you need them to handle. To gauge that, you need to ask the right questions. 

Remember, you won’t have a lot of time for each interview, just 20-30 minutes, so you need to be strategic about which questions you ask and when you ask them.

Your interview guide should address each candidate’s

  • Background

  • Experience being a VA

  • Core skill sets

  • Most important skills demonstrated via a short case study

  • Questions for you

Sample interview questions: 

  • What are your core skills and what skills do you consider are out of scope?

  • What hours are you available and how many hours a week can you work?

  • What are your preferred methods of communication?

  • How and often do you prefer to get paid?

  • What’s your process if you start a task but don’t know how to finish it?

  • What do you do if you’ve misunderstood an assignment?

  • How do you prioritize tasks and set deadlines for yourself?

  • Can you give me an example of how you proactively addressed a client’s needs?

  • Tell me about a time when something unexpected happened during a project: what did you do?

  • Have you ever contradicted a client?

  • Imagine I asked you to develop social media posts for the business to help us generate new leads. What would you do?

  • What questions do you have for me?

You don’t have to ask all of these questions or ask them exactly as they’re worded here. These are just ideas for you to work with. Reword the questions to make them your own, add your questions, and be creative! 

Remember that your interview guide is just that — a guide. Given the time constraints, and depending on how talkative the candidate is, you won’t be able to ask every question you want to ask. Identify the questions that you need to ask every candidate, and if time is running short, skip to those. 

Once you’ve scheduled the video chats and you’re ready to interview candidates, make sure you have 2 documents in front of you —the evaluation rubric that you created in Step 4, and the interview evaluation that you’ll create now in your workbook.

Exercise: Create your rejection letter

Unfortunately, you’ll have to reject candidates, and while this may not feel good, it is always better to reject a candidate than to ghost them. 

A rejection letter doesn’t have to be long or complicated. In essence, it should express gratitude for the time they took applying and interviewing, and clearly state that you’re going with another candidate. 

Here’s an example rejection letter you can use to get started.

Hi [Candidate],

Thank you for the time and effort you’ve spent in applying for the virtual assistant role with [me / company name].

At this point in time, I have decided to go with a different candidate, but I truly appreciated the opportunity to get to know you. The reason that we went with a different candidate is [one to two sentences of feedback for candidate].

Best of luck with your job search and future endeavors.

Take care,

[Name] 

What did you learn?

By this point, you’ve done all the work you need to do to interview some VA candidates!

  • You’re familiar with the VA interview process.

  • You’ve come up with the questions you want to ask in your interview.

  • You’ve built out an interview guide.

  • And you’ve prepared a rejection letter for the candidates who aren’t a good fit.

Now that you’ve interviewed your candidates and evaluated each one, it’s time to decide who you want to hire and make an official offer. 

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