If there’s one thing I see come up over and over again when someone is hiring their first VA, it’s that they have in mind this perfect person, perhaps someone they already know. Or maybe you interviewed a couple of VAs and feel that there’s one standing head and shoulders above the crowd. Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to hire your virtual assistant and be done with it. That’s really true if you’ve already interviewed the person and they seem like a great fit.

However, there’s one final step you should never skip when outsourcing: a test job or trial period. Some jobs won’t be the right fit for a test job, so they are better suited to a trial period of 30 days or two weeks.

I’m sure at this point you’re thinking “If I already vetted, interviewed, and hired this person, do I really need a test job?”

The answer is yes.

Let me explain why.

Ever been on a first date with someone you met from the Internet who just didn’t live up to the hype?

You know, the guy who positioned himself as “loving travel” when he’s been on one road trip in the last year?

The one who calls himself a “foodie” who takes you to a chain restaurant?

Or the guy who says he loves working out but admits on the date he let his gym membership lapse six months ago?

And don’t even get me started on the plethora of people online who position themselves as having emotional or intellectual qualities that you can’t seem to unearth during your awkward first date. (Let’s just stop letting guys say they have a sense of humor until they’ve proven it.)

My point here is that some people are really good at presenting themselves on paper or online, but they just don’t cut it where the rubber meets the road.

The same is true for VAs.

Now, we’re not giving a test job because we want to insult the VA or prove that they can’t handle a software they promised (although knowing that someone overpromised is very valuable.)

We’re asking because we want to see how they work.

I recommend creating a test job. Give very clear instructions about how you want something done. Provide a 48-72 hour deadline.This task should take 1-5 hours max.  Give enough information for them to get started as well as any login info and see what they do with it. Don’t overwhelm them by giving a 50-step checklist. Let’s see what the VA can do without boxing them in.

Why this deadline and small scope?

Because not everyone will live up to the hype. The woman you loved on the Skype interview may flake and send you a last-minute email the morning it’s due that an “emergency” came up. (Hint: the emergency is that she procrastinated.) The guy who said he could do it and knew WordPress will suddenly send you 20 emails asking for help.

There’s nothing wrong with these candidates as people, but it’s far better to find out that they won’t work NOW before you sign a big retainer agreement or hand over the logins to your most precious digital assets.

See, if they are going to fall short on expectations, let’s allow them to do on a small project. The cream will rise to the top. Give the test job to your top 1-3 candidates and allow that to guide your final decision.


You’ll find all my best advice about building a fulfilling and sustainable business here. It’s where I’ll give you all the juicy details about building a strong digital team or using project management to stay on top of tasks.

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