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Hiring a Virtual Assistant? Watch Out for these Red Flags

  • By Pam Langord

Hiring a virtual assistant can be a life-changing milestone for a business owner.

Actually, it can be the difference between being the milestone that gets their business over the hump and humming or it can be the biggest stumbling block. I’m totally not kidding. Hiring a virtual assistant can either be the best thing possible or the worst nightmare ever.


I have seen my fair share of assistants come on to teams and leave the coaches hanging in the middle of say, a launch, or without any notice. The fact is, there is nothing that breaks my heart more than hearing a VA horror story from a prospective client.

The whole key is in hiring. If you don’t hire the right VA, you may easily end up with Cruella DeVil instead of Mary Poppins. (And we both know that you want Mary Poppins, right?)

Sidenote: Can you guess that I’ve been watching reruns of Disney movies lately? OK – I’ll admit I’m just a kid at heart. I absolutely LOVE Disney flicks!! Oh, wait! Who doesn’t?

But back to the question at hand (and one I’m asked rather frequently) – How do you make sure that you hire a Mary Poppins for your business and not Ms. Cruella?

No worries m’dear. I’ve got your back on this one.

3 Bright Red, Cannot-be-Ignored Flags to Watch Out for When Hiring a Virtual Assistant

1. Responsiveness or Lack of It

How prompt is your prospective assistant in responding to your initial emails or messages?

Now let’s all be human for a while and realize that it is NOT practical for people to respond to emails 24/7 but did she respond to you within 24-48 business hours?

Does she reply to all your questions? Or leave you hanging for more?

Is her correspondence easy-to-understand, especially if she’ll be managing your emails too?

Another side note: Before the gender police get on my case, I’m using “she” for the sake of simplicity and because typing he/she is a pain 😉 I know a bunch of fabulous gentleman VAs.

2. References or the Lack of Them

What past experience does your prospective virtual assistant have?

Does she have raving testimonials or will she be able to give you some references?

Does she speak positively about her past clients and projects?

Now, here’s the thing.

Not every VA, especially if she’s just starting out, will come with stellar references and testimonials and that’s okay.

“Whoa there, Pam, back up!”

I hear ya. I do. But hear me out!

If she’s new to the industry, it doesn’t mean that she wouldn’t know what to do. She may have the skills but not the experience. And really, that’s okay. We’ve ALL started from zero, remember?!

BUT in this case, YOU need to have the experience of hiring a VA and giving her a well-planned process to follow.

So, feel free to hire a brand-new-to-assisting VA but make sure you have rock-solid processes in place.

Think about “test driving” your prospective VA. Give them a paid test job. It’s a great way to see how the chemistry feels as well as whether their experience fits the bill.

3. Availability (and yes, you guessed right!) or the Lack of It

Finally, and most importantly, does she have the availability you’re looking for? Watch for cues in your conversation with her.

Does she talk about having a TON on her plate?

Does she mention that she hasn’t taken a break in over a year?

Does she mention that she’s so busy, she forgets to eat?

These, m’friend, are all signs that she may have TOO much going on so you may want to be doubly sure about her availability especially if you have a time-sensitive project like, launching a new offering or revamping a website.

There you go!

Now I’m gonna curl up with my two fur babies and watch some more feel-good fuzziness but I’d love to hear from YOU in the comments about your questions about hiring a virtual assistant.