Doing a background check for a virtual assistant is a lot different than doing a background check of a potential employee. Paying for a full credit check, criminal records check, etc. is nearly unheard of in the virtual assistance space, especially if they’re not going to be a full-time employee in your business.
If you try to get too in-depth with asking a virtual assistant for personal information, the virtual assistant might get scared off. There are lots of job scams out there that pose as “asking for a background check” but are trying to get personal information out of the virtual assistant and eventually rip them off.
So when you decide to do your background check, make it thorough and brief, yet friendly.
Virtual Assistant Background Checks
There’s no international database of virtual assistants so conducting a background check works differently for independent contractors.
First, take a look at where you found the virtual assistant.
If the virtual assistant came from a freelancer platform, such as Upwork or Freelancer, your work is cut in half. Go through their profile and read their testimonials. If they don’t have any testimonials, they should have some work in their portfolio.
Be wary of virtual assistants who have nothing on their profiles. Even virtual assistants who have no prior work experience on that platform can flesh out their profiles with work outside of the platform. If they didn’t make an effort to put something on their profile, this could reflect poor work ethic.
If they can’t sell themselves or bother to make their portfolio look hire-worthy, they likely won’t bother giving your business quality work.
The downside to being on a freelancer platform is that you can’t reach out to previous clients of the virtual assistant and ask them questions. You may be able to find them online through a Google search, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the right person.
You might have found the virtual assistant at an agency. In that case, you’d be conducting more of a background check on the agency.
Look at their public reviews.
It’s common to find some negative reviews but make sure that the reviews aren’t consistently negative.
For example, if one person complains about the virtual assistant being slow to respond, but everyone else has written glowing reviews of fast communication, you can ignore that review.
No agency is perfect, and some clients are difficult to keep happy.
There are also independent virtual assistants who might have a social media following or a website. Check out their testimonials and reach out to the people who gave those testimonials. Sometimes you might not get a response, especially since business owners are busy people, but it’s worth asking.
When an independent virtual assistant is thorough enough to have their website, a social media following, and testimonials linking to real clients, they are probably the real deal. Few people go through that much effort if they’re not serious about being a full-time virtual assistant.
Working Through Red Flags
Red flags are standard when working with virtual assistants. You want to make sure that negatives are few and far in between, though it shouldn’t be a dealbreaker if you do find a red flag.
Clients complain. Miscommunications happen. Everyone has a nightmare story.
If you like the virtual assistant, regardless of the red flags, it’s worth having a conversation with the virtual assistant. Ask them about the red flags and give them a chance to explain themselves. If the explanation makes sense and you’re willing to overlook the red flags, great. Sometimes there is no reasonable explanation, and the virtual assistant may not be a good fit for your business.
That being said, don’t conduct background checks solely to look for the negatives in a person. Take note of the positives and consistency in their reviews.
If there is a major red flag in a virtual assistant, for example, someone wrote that he or she shared sensitive information or stole content for themselves, you should steer clear of the virtual assistant, especially if his or her story doesn’t add up.
Though if the red flag is something like “the virtual assistant doesn’t communicate well,” and the virtual assistant explained that a client expected responses at 11 pm, it’s understandable.
Give them a chance to explain and then go with your gut feeling on whether you’d still like to work with that virtual assistant.
Ready to interview your virtual assistant? Please don’t forget to download our list of questions to ask a virtual assistant, below.