August 12, 2023
Read time: 2 minutes

The math is simple:

  • Total annual compensation for an onshore hire: $80K
  • Total annual compensation for an offshore hire: $20K

Hiring overseas can save you 75% on headcount (conservatively).

If you’re not leveraging remote talent, you are falling behind.

I’ve interviewed well over 100 virtual assistants.

A handful of these interviews turned into rock-star full-time hires.

Here’s my exact, 5-step system to find world-class VA’s:

There are two ways to source candidates:

  1. Marketplaces: Upwork, OnlineJobs.ph
  2. Agencies: Shepherd, Near, Oceansxyz

So far, I’ve had the most success sourcing VA’s myself through marketplaces.

To be fair, the process can be quite time intensive (~20 hours).

But it works.

Step 1: Create and Promote Your Job

Always pay the $29.99 to promote it.

It’s relatively inexpensive and immediately shows potential candidates that you are serious about hiring.

I see a 10x increase in applications when I Feature a job posting.

Here’s an example of a job posting for a customer support rep:


A few other tips:

  • Only hire full-time. The best applicants are looking for a full-time commitment. If you don’t think you can keep a VA busy, but still want to start the process of working with them, consider sharing a VA with a friend.
  • Compensation ranges vary. I’ve found this page to be a helpful resource to benchmark comp.

Step 2: Ask Unique Questions

You will be given the chance to ask custom questions.

Doing so accomplishes two things:

  1. Screens out candidates who apply for jobs in bulk
  2. Gives you an initial feel for their writing skills

Here are a few questions you can use:

  • Review our company website. What is 1 thing that can be improved?
  • If you were gifted $1 million USD tomorrow, how would you spend it?
  • Tell me about a recent exchange (good or bad) you had with your employer.

Remember, the goal in this process is to create a funnel.

Use these questions to filter the noise and only spend your time with the best candidates.

This step should eliminate at least 75% of applications, potentially more.

Step 3: Give a Short Challenge Assignment

For those remaining, ask them to complete a short challenge assignment.

It should take them no more than 1 hour to complete.

You don’t want them to think you are asking for free labor.

For this customer support role, I wrote out two hypothetical situations often encountered by our support staff and asked them how they would navigate the situation.

This step should test both their critical thinking and, once again, their English.

In fact, you can even ask them to video record themselves answering your question. This is a great way to screen for verbal competency.

Step 4: Conduct Interviews

By now, you should have a short list of 3-5 high-potential candidates.

Schedule each candidate for a 15-min interview.

15-mins is all that’s needed to determine whether someone can communicate effectively and think critically.

Try to group these interviews one after the other so you can easily compare quality.

The goal is to come away with at least 1 new hire.

Step 5: Offer a Temporary Position

This step is critical.

Once you’ve identified a high-potential candidate, hire them for a brief “training” period.

This is your opportunity to spend real time with them.

You should give them specific tasks/deliverables and carefully review the outputs.

The objective is to assess their attention to detail and ability to pick-up new things.

Two attributes that separate World-Class Virtual Assistants.

If you aren’t completely convinced they are the right fit, you can part ways, no harm done.

When that happens you can either give the opportunity to your second choice or create a new job posting and start over (perhaps improving the process a second time around).

It may feel like an inefficient approach, but it’s worth it in the long run.

Maximizing Output

Finding a great VA is just the first step.

Getting the most out of them is equally important.

It really comes down to you.

Your ability to set clear expectations and establish a culture of SOPs.

Here’s a helpful resource:

Hiring international talent gets a bad rep.

I’m really not sure why.

You are providing fair employment to hard-working individuals.

What does it matter that they happen to live thousands of miles away and require much less income to meet their basic needs?

Let’s remove the stigma.

See ya next week,


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