Hiring A Helper: Interview Tips
Prepare the right questions to find the right employee
A domestic helper may be the most important employee you will ever take on and choosing the right person is all important. Below are a few pointers to help avoid mistakes.
Many first time employers may choose to use the services of an agency as this can minimize complications, especially if the agency is a reputable one and adequately screens candidates prior to your meeting them.
However, when hiring someone whom you will have to trust with your child or your personal life, you owe it to yourself to personally interview the candidates thoroughly. If you don’t feel you need the services of an agency to find candidates, take a look in the GeoExpat Classified Helpers section, or consider placing or answering an ad in the local newspaper or your apartment complex community board. Regardless of how you reach out to candidates, you should always ask for references and trust your instincts.
Success in finding a suitable helper often comes from asking friends who are happy with their helpers if they know of anyone reliable who is looking for a job. Some of the most successful home helpers start with limited experience, but become trained by their employers who are prepared and able to offer guidance. Therefore, it may even be wiser to choose someone you can trust over someone you are not sure of, but stacks up well on paper. This is the one time when the rules are personal and not business.
Plan ahead. Before you begin looking for a helper, take the time to clearly identify your family’s needs and prioritise them. Make a work plan of daily, weekly, biweekly and monthly tasks that you would like your helper to be responsible for.
Make a list. Draw a list of personal qualities you would like to see in your helper, such as maturity and gentle disposition. Skills such as cooking, first-aid, and laundry care are obviously important. However, without references to confirm these skills, years of experience may not necessarily translate into superior performance so be prepared to give a little training to get things done just as you like them.
Create, copy, and complete a checklist for each candidate. Using your work plan and priority list as a base, draw up a list of relevant questions to ask and leave space to make observation notes. (See example below)
Get personal. Asking personal questions that do not have an incorrect answer will help the candidate relax. This person is going to be living in your home and be primarily responsible for your most personal and precious things, so you have a right to know if they are married, have children, have a hobby, are in good health, etc. Avoid being too intrusive but don’t be bashful either. Asking for three qualities they like about themselves will give you great insight into a candidate’s maturity, confidence, personality, and level of independence. To help you recall them and introduce them to other members of the family, you may consider taking a snapshot of them to attach to your checklist. Remember to ask for permission first!
Give a small but significant practical test. For example, if doing the laundry will be a big part of their job, hand the candidate an item of clothing and ask how they would clean it. If they look for the care label and are able to read the laundry instructions, you know they are experienced with clothes care. Or give a children’s book and ask them to read a few pages to you. You will immediately find out if the candidate can read English and whether or not they will be capable of helping your child with reading.
Give yourself a time frame in which to make a decision. Allow enough time to interview several candidates, remembering that many will only be available for interviews on weekends. Never make a snap decision, even if one candidate appears to be everything you want. Sleep on it and see several candidates before you offer the position to anyone.
Remember the candidate is there to decide if they would like to work for your family too. Be prepared to walk them through the house, show them their living quarters, introduce them to any children or pets they will be responsible for, and ask them if they have any questions for you. If you are prepared to pay over the minimum salary for specific qualities or qualifications, tell them. Take this opportunity after they have answered most of your questions to spell out the personal, ethical and moral qualities you expect from someone living or working in your home. This will let the candidate know you will not tolerate being taken advantage of. Discuss days off, expected work hours, and any other expectations or terms of employment such as health insurance and salary.
If you like the candidate, fix a date and time when you will contact them if they are successful. Remember to ask if they are interviewing with anyone else and if so, ask them to contact you if they are offered another position prior to your confirmation date. Keeping tabs will will help to avoid losing a good candidate to another employer.
|Name: Age: Contact no.:|
|1. Where are you from?|
|2. Have you brought any references with you?|
|3. Tell me about your last job and responsibilities.|
|4. Why are you looking for a new job?|
|5. Do you like cooking? What kind of dishes did you to cook for your last employer?|
|6. Have you looked after children before? What were their ages?|
|7. Tell me a little bit about yourself: Are you married? Do you have children?|
|8. What are the three qualities you like about yourself?|
|9. Have you ever been seriously ill? Yes / No. With what? When?|
|10. Would you be happy to have us send you to a Doctor for a physical exam before you start? Yes / No|
|11. What do you like to do in your free time?|
|12. Have you ever done a first aid course? Yes / No|
|13. When will you be available to start?|
|Punctuality: Early / On time / Late|
|Maturity: Good / Fair / Poor|
|Disposition: Good / Fair / Poor|
|Independent thinker: Good / Fair / Poor|
|Grooming: Good / Fair / Poor|
|Ease with children & pets: Good / Fair / Poor|
|Self confidence: Good / Fair / Poor|
|English: Good / Fair / Poor|
|First Aid Training: Qualified / Some experience / None|
|Cooking: Confident / Unsure / Inexperienced|
|Childcare: Confident / Unsure / Inexperienced|
|Elderly-care: Confident / Unsure / Inexperienced|
|Laundry: Confident / Unsure / Inexperienced|
|Cleaning: Confident / Unsure / Needs training|
Comments and observations: