Interviewing household employees such as nannies, chefs, personal assistants, housekeepers, health care aides, and butlers is important. Each family and home has unique needs. Many potential problems can be avoided if the interview is properly conducted. During an interview the family and the job candidates often rely on their intuition. It is not wise to jump to conclusions, but it is natural to get a sense of what an individual is like in the first minutes of the meeting. As prospective employees and family members learn more about each other they can make informed decisions if the relationship may work.
Good in-home job placement agencies can help families in the search for a household employees and with the hiring process. Placement agencies can also be the household employee’s advocate. The agency will inquire about the duties and responsibilities of the job, the daily and weekly hours the employee will be expected to work, the salary range, and the benefits the family is offering. Benefits might include vacation time, sick time, health insurance benefits, and educational stipends. The agency should inform employers about employee rights and laws including paying taxes, discrimination laws, minimum wage rates, and overtime pay.
A placement agency must know if the expectations of potential employers and employees are realistic. The agency should explain that an unrealistic job description limits the number of potential household employees that will want to interview for the position. If prospective in-home employees ask for unrealistically high salaries and benefits it will limit the number of families that will ask for an interview. Once the placement agency has collected all of this information they can select the nannies, chefs, personal assistants, housekeepers, health care aides, butlers, and caretakers that meet the criteria of the job and begin referring appropriate candidates to the family. A responsible placement agency clearly provides an objective description of the family’s needs and desires to the job candidate.
It is best for placement agency staff to meet the job candidate personally. If agency staff is not able to interview the potential household employee in their office the agency should advise the family how they have screened the job candidate. Some agencies may conduct a telephone interview, while others may have agents that meet with potential employees on behalf of the placement agency.
The family may have questions for the
prospective employee which are of a personal nature. Their questions should reflect their own priorities in selecting the right employee. Families must always obey fair labor hiring laws and not discriminate against job candidates due to race, religion, age, gender, or disability.
Families should conduct a telephone interview to start the process. If the initial conversation is promising then they should invite the potential employee to their home for a more in-depth interview. The family should ask open-ended questions that do not solicit just a “yes” or “no” answer.
For example, in a nanny interview the parents can judge how the nanny and children interact. Parents can describe activities their children enjoy to see if the nanny has an interest in those areas. The parents will have an opportunity to see what the nanny’s personality is and if the nanny is compatible with the children and the parents.
Families can adapt the following questions that parents might ask a nanny candidate to use with all household employees. For example, parents may ask the nanny candidate:
1. Why do you want to be a nanny?
2. What activities do you like to do with children?
3. Do you prefer indoor activities or outdoor activities? Do you like structured play or free play?
4. What age children are you experienced working with? What ages do you prefer?
5. Are you interested in helping with general household chores or with child related chores only? (Be specific about chores.)
6. What was the best part of working as a nanny in the past?
7. What was the worst thing when working as a nanny in the past?
8. How do you discipline children? Give an example of what you have done when….”