How to skill-test a virtual assistant candidate

A past blog of mine explained how to hire an overseas Virtual Assistant, or VA, and one of the things I mentioned in that post was to give them a sample project to test their skills before you offer them a position with your business.

Why is skill assessment so important during the VA hiring process? 

Skills tests are a reliable way to actually see the standard of work that your VA can provide before you hire them officially. You also get a window into their ability to understand and follow instructions, learn quickly, communicate and how they show up (on time, on deadline, etc.)

Of course, you’ll want to individualise your projects and skill testing based on the specific role you are hiring for, but to get the process started, here are my go-tos. 

3 best skill assessments for virtual assistant candidates 

English Testing

The first and most important thing to test for (when hiring from a non-english speaking country) is English comprehension, written and verbal communication skills. In our hiring process at Linked VA we have a few parts. 

1. When a VA applies for a position they are given a test of 12 questions that is for English comprehension, i.e we give them paragraph excerpts and see how well they understand the topic. 

2. The 2nd part of the English test is a written test. Typically, we will ask them questions that require paragraph-sized answers, so we can see how they formulate a sentence and convey their thinking in words. 

3. If they pass, they go through an interview with us where we test their verbal communication skills. Of course, depending on the role we are hiring for, their English communication skills may be more or less important.  

Generally, I find comprehension to be the most valuable test for a virtual assistant, as it is a key indicator of how well they will understand your instructions and implement them correctly.

Here is a free online English test you can use for candidates

General Administrative Skills Testing

In this test, I will give the prospective VAs a set of instructions and ask them to complete the activities. Here is an example of my instruction list for a general admin project. (There are 3 parts total for this section.) 

1. Google Sheets Test


a) Create a Google Sheets file, and copy and paste the information on the template sheet provided, to tab 1 of your own sheet.

b) Data sort your spreadsheet in alphabetical order by company name

c) Highlight the entire row in yellow when there are duplicate company names

d) Google ‘how to sort data in an google sheets doc’ if you’re not sure how to do this

2. Online Research

a) Go to Adam Sandler on Wikipedia

b) Find the 5 movies he filmed between 1995 and 1999

c) List the names of the five movies along with the name of the Director and the box office earnings on Tab 2 of your google sheet.

3. Proofreading

There are mistakes in the paragraph below:

a) Find the mistakes

b) List them on tab three of your spreadsheet (in order of appearance), the first column should be the mistake, the second column should show the fix (how the word should be written).

c) Then send me an email to tell me you are finished with a link to your sheet.

Notes: Bonus points for a neat and organised sheet. You are welcome to use colours, fonts etc. as you wish.

The above test really allows me to get a second chance at testing their English comprehension, but also how well they roll with the punches and take on new work that they may not be familiar with. It also gives great insight into their speed, accuracy and productivity.

Typing Test

You won’t always need to do a typing test but if your VA is going to play a generalist role, or more specifically doing any transcription, it is valuable info to have.

Here is the free online speed typing test I use. 

I recommend completing the test yourself so you can set a benchmark for your expectations (whether it be the same, higher or lower).

So, those are my big 3 skills tests I use when hiring for any admin or general VA role. If you are hiring for a Graphic Designer, or a more specialised role like that, give them an exact task that you would ask for as if they were already employed. This will provide an accurate look at what you can expect if you were to work together.

For more tips, be sure to check out our new book, The Virtual Assistant Advantage

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