When you make the decision to hire a new member of staff for your household, the process of interview through to the trial and hire of an employee is vital. Here you can gauge if the person is right for the role.
But how do you gauge this? The best way to establish this is to ask them great, open-ended interview questions which will lead you to have an insight into how their mind and professional approach works.
Here are the top 10 interview questions to ask any domestic household staff!
1. Why have you applied for this job?
This is a great question, as it allows the person to relax, go into detail about the reason for their application, and what has led them to apply for the role. You should be able to start to glean what drives them as a human being - this is an important aspect to discover as it will affect their commitment to the role.
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
An open ended question like this is a great way to see again what drives the individual, and what they are passionate about. They might not have a clear answer to this, and this isn’t a negative thing - not everyone has a plan! But it does flavor what drives them - for example they may say they want job security for their family, or they may say they want to study in their free time. Whatever the answer is, you can get to know the person on a deeper level.
3. What challenges did you face in your last role(s)?
A good interviewee will not speak about negative things. But this question can allow them to talk about challenges they faced, and in turn how they overcame them. For example, if the candidate said that due to working long hours, it meant that they struggled to balance their life and work, you can reflect on your own household position - if the hours are similar then perhaps this role isn’t right for them. It will demonstrate how this person deals with pressure, and this is a good skill to have in domestic employment, as private households are busy and often with pressure!
4. What do you enjoy doing in your time off?
Again, this can help you begin to understand the candidate’s passions and hobbies. This can be particularly important if the candidate is applying for a live in role. If someone is into late night raves, this could have an impact on your own family life - likewise if they have a hobby of extreme sports, perhaps this could have an impact on the work they do for you if they are injured - so you can weigh up if their own lifestyle suits you and your household.
5. Let’s talk about your work history?
Review the candidate’s CV or resume, and look through the long or short term placements - ask them to talk to you about the job roles, what they entailed, and why they left the position. Particularly if the candidate has held a number of short term roles, this can be telling as to why it’s not worked out. If you are looking for a long-term member of staff, short term placements can be an alarm bell which you should pay attention to. Really shape your questions around the person's specific skill set. For example, if you are interviewing a housekeeper, this list of handy interview questions can really target the skill specific duties you should cover during interview.
6. Do you like animals, skiing, cooking, driving [insert any specific duties which may be not typical to the role you are looking to fill]
Here you can broach the subject of specific duties which might not be typical. For example, if their duties are to care for some large dogs, you can talk to the candidates about their experience working with dogs and if they are comfortable around them. Or if you take regular skiing holidays and expect your nanny to ski with the children - again you can broach the subject. You can also discuss travel if this is a regular part of the role, or again the expectations of what they would do when you are abroad. There may be additional questions you wish to ask specific candidates, for example if you are interviewing a nanny, relevant childcare experience is key - and these specific questions can be of help here.
7. How do you feel in stressful situations?
This can provide a useful insight into how the candidate deals with stress. Stress can affect people differently and be triggered by different experiences - so you can use this answer to gauge if the candidate would cope well doing the role you are looking to fill. Stress and how the candidate copes with it, will be an indication if they are right for your role, and if they are able to commit to it in a long-term position.
8. How do you feel about the routine changing at short notice?
Similar to stress, how someone copes with last minute changing routines can say a lot about their flexibility. Sometimes a candidate can say they are flexible, but it may not be their natural stance, and in fact last minute changes can cause anxiety. In domestic households, it is often typical that last minute changes might, and can occur, so you can use this question to determine if the candidate will give you the flexibility you require. Likewise, any household with children will most likely have last minute changes. When families are searching for a new maternity nurse, flexibility is key. Here we list some specific interview questions for a maternity nurse.
9. Do you have a driving license - and tell us about your experience on the roads?
If the role that you are looking to fill requires driving, then this is an important question. For example, if the nanny is required to drive the children, then you want to be sure that they are a confident driver, in the country you are looking for them to drive. You want to have peace of mind that they are confident drivers, and that they have spent time driving on the side of the road that the country requires. If they are less confident you can discuss the ability to do a refresher course and see how they respond to this.
10. Do you enjoy working with others, or are you happy working on your own?
This is an interesting question as it can determine if the person excels with working in a team, taking their own initiative, or prefers to be solo in the role. For example, if the household is in a remote countryside location, and the candidate won’t have much interaction with household members or other staff, they may not be suited to the isolation. Equally a large household with multiple staff, may also not be suitable for them. Use this question to help you determine if they are indeed suitable to your role.
Interviews are the best way for you to establish if the person you are considering is right for the role in your household. Don’t be afraid to spend time getting to know the person, but always be respectful to personal boundaries, and ensure you don’t ask questions which could be considered discriminatory (for example you cannot ask if someone is planning to start a family or if they have any medical issues).
Regardless if you are self recruiting or using a professional agency like Polo & Tweed, you should always consider your options, and you can hold a number of interview rounds if it helps you make the right decision. Take your time to get to know someone, and always trust your gut instincts, it’s probably telling you the truth!