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Help! Hiring a helper and very unsure...!

  1. #1
    Gumboots is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Help! Hiring a helper and very unsure...!


    My husband and I have lived in HK for 3 years and are now looking for a helper to start working with us early next year when I am going back to work parttime. She will care for our baby while I am at work and do housework etc for the rest.

    We met a number of helpers today - a lot were... not great.

    I had lots of ideas from this site about questions to ask etc. I thought the questions suggested were great. Only problem was: not ONE helper answered them right!! Maybe I was asking them the wrong way but in the end I was GIVING them the answers because it was so hard to take the confusion!!!

    Here is my dilemma:

    One helper was lovely. Both my husband and I warmed to her immediately and she was so comfortable with my baby - and he was very relaxed with her (and not so with any of the others really).

    BUT - her english was not particularly good and it was clear that at times she was not completely following what I was saying.

    She did, however, clearly have a genuine love for children and a willingness to do things that we would ask of her. I believed her when she said that she would respect our instructions regarding the care of our baby.

    This helper seems genuinely warm, kind and loves children. Our son's happiness is the most important thing for us in hiring this helper.

    Finally my QUESTIONS:

    We do not need a helper until February. Should we wait and see if we can find a helper who has all her wonderful qualities AND speaks great English? Is it likely we would find such a person?

    If you have a helper who genuinely adores your children and is wonderful with them, does she speak English well? How important is it to you that she does?

    (I am not overly concerned as to whether the helper can "teach" my child - he will get more than enough time with me and my husband reading etc that the limited time with the helper can be happily spent playing with toys or singing etc).

    Would love to hear your advice. Please be kind!! This is our first child and our first time hiring a helper - we are doing our best to do the right thing by everyone :)


  2. #2
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Sai Kung

    go with your gut instinct. if you have time and are not in a rush, then why rush it?

    just keep in mind that language may be a barrier with most helpers as although they can speak english, it is not their first language. even our helper, who has been with us for almost 4 years, sometimes doesn't understand our instructions. if you are asking questions and they look confused, try rephrasing the question in other words so that they might understand. don't use long, difficult words. keep it simple.

  3. #3
    Buckeroo is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Hong Kong

    1. The good ones get snapped up pretty quickly. We needed a helper in Jan'05 and we interviewed quite a few around Oct/Nov. There was one that we really liked, but we thought we had the luxury of time since we wouldn't be needing her until a couple of months down the line. We actually got back to her within a week of having interviewed her, but she had already signed on with another employer then. With our current helper whom we are very happy with, we signed with her the day after we met her, not wanting to make the same mistake. In the interim, we sent her back to the Philippines first before she started with us. She would have had to go back to the Philippines to await processing of her papers anyway, so that worked out pretty well for us.

    2. I haven't met many helpers who speak GREAT English, if what you meant by "great" English is clear and proper pronunciation, correct grammar, etc. As long as they can communicate well enough to be understood and can also understand basic English instructions well, that would suffice for me. Anything else would be a bonus. Just make sure that upon hiring, you state upfront that you would rather she ask you questions if she is not sure about ANYTHING (your instructions, how to do something, what you meant, etc.), if she needs clarification on anything, that you would rather she not ASSUME anything.

    Being able to communicate well is important, especially if she will be caring for your child. You will need someone who can understand clearly how you want certain things done with your child, etc. If you hire someone knowing fully well that she might not be able to understand what you try to tell her, you might end up getting frustrated each time something doesn't get done correctly.

    After weighing all the pros and cons of each candidate, I'd still advise that you go by your gut feel. Sometimes everything looks rosy on paper, but if something is holding you back from committing to one, then perhaps you should keep on looking.

    Good luck... (sometimes it all boils down to luck, really).

  4. #4
    Gumboots is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2008


    Thanks Carang and Buckeroo for your replies! They were very helpful.

    The more we think about it - the more we realise that our gut feeling is that we can see ourselves being happy with this helper in our home.

    I am going to have another chat with her and see how we go!

    Thanks again :)

  5. #5
    LeahH is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Hong Kong, Mid Levels

    Just to add, our helper does not speak English brilliantly - she came straight from the Philippines without much English at all (we frequently experience confusion!) BUT, she is absoultely wonderful with our bub, they adore each other and that is more than enough for us.

    We do have to spend more time explaining things and ensuring everything is clear, but it's worth it. We have a white board that we write important new messages on and find that when things are written down there are less mix ups.

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