How not to hire a virtual assistant

In my last post about hiring a virtual assistant I wrote about the importance of writing an accurate job description. However, despite my best attempts to carefully hire the right person, recently I have had a very negative experience.

I used the Upwork site to advertise for a freelancer to carry out some work on my websites.
It started off well. We communicated directly and I found his English good.

However, the next time I communicated with him I found his English had deteriorated. I suspected I was dealing with two different people and when I asked him directly he said he was part of a team. I immediately cancelled the contract and reported it to Upwork.

However, I have been very disappointed with the response which you can read below:


Thank you for your response. We understand your concern, however, may we know if you specifically included in your opening that you are looking for an individual and not a team/agency, and informed the freelancer about this. If so, kindly provide us proofs that you specifically requested for an individual and not a team.
We look forward to your response.

Upwork Trust & Safety


If I interview an individual and employ them on that basis then that person should be who does the work.

You are saying it is okay for a freelancer to pretend to be an individual at interview stage if the hirer has not specified. The fact that the hirer has interviewed an individual freelancer and hired the ‘individual’ should be proof enough.

Think of this – you interview and hire a PA to come and work with you at your offices. On the PAs second day he doesn’t show up. He sends someone else. This someone else doesn’t even have good English and mistakes you for a man. When you complain the PA says ‘ but you didn’t specifically say you wanted me at the interview stage.’

How would you like that?

Why don’t you escalate this complaint to your superiors as I am truly flabbergasted at your response and I am not sure if you are truly not understanding the problem or if you are being evasive and disingenuous.

Thanks Grace
cartoon of owl reading about how not to hire a virtual assistant
As you can imagine, Upwork’s response has worried me. I am just one person trying to develop a small business. I have trusted freelancers with sensitive information and have put my confidence in the agency sites to support me should there be a problem. I am left to wonder just how much we can trust these online agencies.

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