Common Mistakes - Frequently Asked Questions

What Mistakes Do People Make When Hiring Filipino Virtual Assistants?

At the Smart VA Staffing Agency, we have enjoyed great success hiring, managing, and providing Filipino virtual assistants (FVAs) to our clients. We have been doing this in earnest since 2011. Some of our staff have been with us for the whole seven years and still add a lot of value to our businesses.

Philippines Virtual Assistants – Avoiding Mistakes and Implementing Best Practices

However, over those years we have also seen a lot of American companies try to hire VAs but find the process, problematic, ineffective, and frustrating. In talking to them and analyzing their approach, we see behavioral commonalities that we believe are the root cause of their poor results.

Here we share those insights in rough priority order, in the hopes that you get as good a result as we enjoy. We try to provide insightful tips on not just what not to do, but also what to do to get great results from your virtual assistants.

A kind of, VA hiring and VA managing best practices guide.

Mistake #1       Hiring Filipino Virtual Assistants (FVAs) to Take on Responsibility for a Business Outcome with Just a High-level Brief

Recruiting FVAs for the Wrong Types of Jobs


  • We need someone to do social media to boost the business’s brand awareness
  • We need someone to write articles about our products to improve our online presence
  • We need someone to improve our customer service
  • We need someone to manage our administrative office and streamline our processes

 What all these jobs have in common is that they are “figure it out” type jobs. If there is any training, it is just, “this is how we do it now” orientated. The person coming on board is expected to have the experience to figure out what specifically needs to be done to get the desired result. Hiring an FVA for this type of job is very unlikely to get you a good result.

Filipino VAs are Great at Executing

Once you fully understand a job, the specific work you want to be done, and how you want it done, you simply hire a Filipino VA to get it done. When you have a clear process in your business that you can define step by step, that is the time to hire an FVA to get it done consistently for you.

There can be exceptions to this. Where an FVA has been with a company for a long time, asking them if they can figure out a better way to get a specific result, can work. However, starting out that way is almost always a mistake.

Related: Hire an American, Not A Virtual Assistant When…

Mistake #2       Providing Unclear Job Briefs

Often work that needs to be done is broken into specific individual sub-tasks. For example, a web developer may be asked to implement a design mock-up or create a form response page or make some navigation changes to a website. An article writer may be asked to write an article on a specific topic or create an article from a video.

When we see some of these project briefs, we do not understand them ourselves without first asking a bunch of questions to pull out what the client really wants. Business owners will often ask for something to be done without clearly understanding what they are actually asking for. This is more common than you might think.

Your ability to get a great result from a Filipino virtual assistant is always going to be proportional to:

  • How clearly you understand what you are asking for
  • How clearly you can communicate the specifics of what you want

Relying on words in an email alone will often generate an unpredictable result. This is because in reading something, in a lot of cases people tend to interpret and see what is in their own head, rather than in the writer’s head.

With that in mind, we recommend creating short video project briefs as the primary method of communicating with your VAs. When we use video briefs we find that our success rate, the frequency in getting what we want the first time is much higher.

We did video briefs quite a bit in the process of creating this website. Bear in mind that this entire website was built by FVAs.  Therefore, to help you understand what these video briefs are like, here are some examples we did in the process of building and refining this website.

Example 01 – Website Tweaks




Managing Virtual Assistants Philippines – Clear Job Briefs Site Tweaks 01 Use Video


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