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Interview questions you should be prepared to answer

First of all, make sure when you do an interview that nothing will interrupt you while you are talking to the client. Usually you can pick a time convenient to you that will assure the children are quiet, the dog is put in his home, and the cat is fed and all ringing devices are turned off.

Having said that, if your Interviewer has issues with their own children, animals, etc. this is wonderful because it means they will be understanding in the future when they are speaking to you on the telephone and you have the same issues. But today, for the interview, try to have a silent background.

How long have you been a Virtual Assistant?

If you are new – do not panic. Make sure when you answer you are honest but always give an answer that reassures the interviewer that you are committed to being a Virtual Assistant. A lot of people have had bad experiences contracting with a VA, training them, and then they go get a “real” job. If you do not convey that this is a real career for you, you may lose out on the client.

Why did you become a Virtual Assistant?

Tell the truth. If you became a Virtual Assistant because you want to be available for your children 24/7 say so. One of the great benefits of working for yourself, from home,  is the ability to weed out clients who do not share your work/life ethic. If your taking care of your children is an issue for the client, then the client needs to move on to another VA.

What administrative experience do you have?

This is your chance to talk about the things that you’ve actually done administratively whether as a Virtual Assistant or in a former work outside the home position.

“In my former position I answered client emails, answered customer service calls, formatted and crafted proposals to possible future clients”... and so on.

Be specific about your administrative skills. Talk about using Word, Word Perfect, Excel, WordPress ™, and various other programs by name. You can gear your answer to the person asking. If you know that you are talking to someone who is going to want you to install and set up and shopping cart system, talk about shopping cart systems you have installed or any recent training that you have completed.

What are your primary skills?

Be very specific. Do not say “I am skilled in word.” Tell them what you can do with word or any other program that you are skilled with. This is your chance to promote the things you are best at.

“I’m very proficient at creating e-books, formatting documents, inserting graphs, graphics, and finding spelling and grammatical errors.”

“I am an expert at editing your prose to construct a cohesive eBook, eReport, or other document that is easy to navigate for the reader/user.”

NEVER say, “I am a people person.” That doesn’t even say anything important. Make sure that what you say is specific, and relevant to the person who is interviewing you.

How many clients do you have?

This is a very common question. The interviewer wants to make sure that you have time for them.  I am not suggesting that you lie to them, but you don’t really have to give  a specific number. You can point out that you have sufficient time to devote to their tasks because your clients all pay a monthly retainer in advance.

Therefore, you do not accept more work than the hours you have available to work. However, if they press you might have to give an answer. Remember, if you have signed a non disclosure agreement you may not be able to give the name of the client you work with. Always take the opportunity to reassure the client of your availability to them.

It is really important not to lie about your availability. Do not take on more work than you can handle or you might end up with a lot of disappointed clients. Once word gets around it is hard for a VA to recover.

What kind of work have you done in the past year?

This question is designed to see if your skills are up to par with what they want you to do for them. Make sure your answer suggests to the client that you are ready to do their task. Again, make sure to honor your non disclosure agreements when answering this question. Answer in generalities, not specifics regarding your client, but do answer specifically what you have done. For example: I loaded $5000 worth of products into xyz shopping cart system. I edited, crafted, wrote 10 eBooks about direct sales. Then be prepared to answer more questions about these items.

Can you provide references?

You should have already asked a few of your past clients if they would mind providing a reference to you so that you can give your interviewer this information.  DO ask former and current clients before giving out this information because you do not want them to be caught off guard by a phone call.

What hours do you work?

Resist the urge to say “24/7” because this is very unrealistic and will get you into trouble. Establish normal working hours and charge extra for off hours when emergencies arise that have nothing to do with you. When I am asked this question I say 9 to 12 and 1 to 3pm, Monday – Friday.

Realistically I do work more hours, because sometimes I do work in the evening when the children are sleeping, or I have a sudden inspiration to work. But these are the only hours I am able to take client calls and respond promptly to client emails, for certain.

Before 9am,  I am getting children ready  for school, and after 3 I am picking them up from school.  I try to schedule all doctor appointments before 9 or after 3 as well so that I am consistently available during these hours. Obviously from 12 to 1 I am having lunch. It is okay to explain that you often do client work at all hours, but that those are the definite, drop-dead, hours you are at your desk, able to answer email, and take phone calls.

How much do you charge?

Of course you have to get to this question eventually.

Your future and current clients have a right to know how much you charge. Just tell them your fee, whatever it is, and do not make excuses, or make deals, or be nervous. Give the fee with confidence.

Yes, there are always going to be Virtual Assistants who work for nothing, especially the off shore “VA’s” but, remember the saying, “You get what you pay for.”

Well, it’s true. Maybe the client will try out someone who has lower fees for a while, but I can assure you, eventually, if the interview went well otherwise, they will come back to you.

I have had people say “Wow that’s too much.” Then they called me later to work for them. Always make sure to specify exactly what your fee covers and does not cover. If you charge  set amount for certain projects rather than hourly, let them know.

“My regular administrative VA fee is 25 dollars per hour, however for certain projects – as listed on my website- I charge a set fee by project, please check out the various packages I offer for items other than straight administrative work.” or “I charge $18 dollars per hour with a ten hour per month retainer, graphics, website set ups, shopping cart set ups, and reimbursable (postage, supplies) are extra and decided on a case by case basis.”

Will you sign a non-disclosure agreement?

Often times you will be asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement. This simply means that you will not be able to reveal certain aspects according to the contract who you are working for or what exactly you do for them. There is nothing wrong with, or deceitful about a non-disclosure agreement, just please read it completely before you sign.  These are often used for ghost writing services.

What  questions have you been asked on an Interview that are not listed here?

Rather recently I was asked what are my contingency plans if I “were hit by a bus”. I was a little taken aback by the question, but I understand that it is a typical corporate world type question so I came up with an answer. It is best to practice your answers with a friend or even just out loud to yourself so that you sound natural and the words flow from your mouth easily.

How would you answer any of the questions above differently from my suggestions?

About Stephanie Watson

Mom | Wife | Virtual Assistant | Content Strategist
Stephanie has been working from home for over 20 years as a virtual assistant, template bender, and content writer. She's currently transitioning to business coach. You can learn more about her at her website http://www.barrypublishing.com.

Comments

  1. An excellent list of things to keep in mind. This here alone would be good fodder for a VA seminar.

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