Virtual Assistants

My Hiring Process

 October 8, 2020

By  Uriah Guilford, MFT

minute read

Hi, this is Uriah from Productive Therapist, and this is our step by step hiring process.

I’m actually recording this as a video podcast just to try something new so I hope it goes well, and if you are listening to this audio, you can go and watch the video on our site at ProductiveTherapist.com/blog.

So I wanted to share a few things about our hiring process. We’ve learned a ton over the last three years. I haven’t looked at the numbers recently, but we’ve hired at least 30 assistants.

I figured we could pass some of that learning onto you!

So here’s a listing of the steps, and I’ll elaborate on them a little bit:

  1. Job posting
  2. Narrow the applicants
  3. Phone interview
  4. In-person or video Zoom interview
  5. Check references
  6. Assign a test project
  7.  Send the offer letter

You can also, of course, do drug testing and/or background checks if you like.

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail on each one of these because they’re kind of self-explanatory. But I want to share a few tips that I think will make a difference for you if you’re trying to hire an assistant.

Hiring and keeping good support staff is a serious challenge. So I hope this helps.

One of the things that is important in the beginning phase is narrowing the prospects, narrowing the applicants, because especially for an administrative support position, if you put out a posting on Indeed today (we actually turned on yesterday), you will get tens, if not hundreds of applicants, especially now as more and more people are wanting to work remotely.

There’s just so many people looking for work right now.

So one of the most effective and helpful things that we’ve done is requiring two things: a cover letter (pretty standard), and then number two, a video. And we the simple, prompt question that we put out there is tell us why you are an ideal candidate for this position.

Pretty simple, straightforward, but you would be surprised how few people actually follow through, record a video, and then send it in.

I’ll tell you how this is working out for us this week.

So yesterday I turned on the Indeed posting for Mental Health Virtual Assistant, and I honestly don’t even know how many applicants came in. It was quite a few and just in the last 24 hours or so.

But I only saw two emails come through because what we do in the Indeed posting is we ask them to click over to our website and fill out a separate form. So that’s actually an additional step. And in that form, they can actually upload the video or link to the video.

So I only got two emails today with potential applicants, and I didn’t look at the resume. I didn’t even read their answers (hardly) to the questions. I went straight to the video so I could see them on camera, so I could see how they communicate and how they present themselves.

And actually, both candidates looked very, very interesting.

One seemed a little bit better than the other one, because the first one I looked at was actually a grad student, and we’ve learned over the last couple of years that grad students can be amazing assistants, however, they don’t stick around for very long because they are usually on some sort of career path and trajectory.

So requiring the video submission is a huge bonus to narrowing the applicants.

And then our next step is a phone interview, which I have my assistant, Jamie do. She just has a really good sense of intuition about people. So she does the phone interview and then she gives me either a thumbs up or thumbs down.

And if Jamie gives us a thumbs up, then we go to a Zoom interview, and then I do that one actually in collaboration with one of my other leadership team VAs. The video interview with my assistant, Tracel and I, is very, very helpful because between the two of us, we usually have a good sense of if it’s a slam dunk, a really good candidate, 100% worth hiring, or if there’s questions and concerns. So that’s the Zoom interview.

Of course, we check references. They’re honestly, not that helpful, but we still go through that process.

At the end of the Zoom interview, if we’re interested in moving forward with them, we do two things:

We tell them that we want to check the references and we also want to give them a test project.

The test project is pretty simple. I have two main tasks. The first one is to write an introduction sort of networking letter for me, and then the second one is to do some research on finding ideal clinicians in their area for a specific population.

And then I have them put that in a spreadsheet, and it just shows me their ability to follow directions, how detail-oriented they are, and a few other things.

So that has been super helpful.

The video submission and the test project have helped us hire, much, much better people.

And then beyond that, there’s not too much to share. We send a very simple offer letter and then we have a whole nother onboarding and training process.

So just to recap, our seven steps are:

  1. Job posting
  2. Narrow the applicants
  3. Phone interview
  4. Zoom interview
  5. Check references
  6. Assign a test project
  7.  Send the offer letter

We actually have a lot more to share on the topic of hiring assistants, and we are working on a course for 2021 called Hiring Your Assistant that I think is going to be helpful for a lot of solo practices and group practices.

If you want to get notified about that course and lots of other good info, go ahead and get on our email list over at ProductiveTherapist.com. I promise you won’t regret it! Have a good one.

Uriah Guilford, MFT


Uriah is a group practice owner and the creator of Productive Therapist. He is a technology nerd, a minimalist travel packer, a rock drummer and business development enthusiast.

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