Interview Your Shortlisted Domestic Helper

Maid, Helper

We know what a typical maid biodata is and what information we can get from it. To minimise the risk of hiring an incompatible domestic helper, there are more about the helper that we need to find out as an employer.

Compatibility is about being able to build an amicable relationship with the other person. So, an assessment of the helper is crucial and it is not something you can see in the biodata. We have prepared a list of questions for you which you can randomly pick a few and use them in the interview.

Prepare For The Domestic Helper Interview

Before interviewing a shortlisted helper, you will have to first list the chores (in priority) that the helper would need to perform. Then after that list the type of qualities that the helper should possess in order to perform them well. Do also identity what are the must-have traits and what are the good-to-haves.

You may post situational questions and watch for their response. Some may not speak well due to the language barrier, so it will be good to have a translator around e.g. the maid agent. You may also want to pay attention to the body language to gauge if what she says is aligned to how she feels. If you find her body language not as convincing as what she said, you may want to ask a few more similar questions to reassess.

Realistic Expectations

The goal of this interview is to provide more understanding of their personality and how they would react in situations. Do it in a friendly manner and be patient to wait for their replies. Domestic helpers are mostly very simple. Some are quite “timid” and have fear due to the stories they hear from their friends and past experiences (are we not too?). So, while it is important that we get to know more about them, we have to also be conscious not to overdo it.

Do note that an improvement in personality and problem-solving skills are not something that can be easily taught or learned. Everyone’s perspective is different, so realistically speaking, do look out for someone who is generally positive and open to learning rather than someone who can be custom-made for you and your family.

The Interview Questions

Below are the suggested situational questions you can ask your shortlisted domestic helper during an interview:

1) If you did something wrong and your employer has not found out, what would you do?
2) You accidentally cut yourself with a knife. What would you do?
3) If the sick elderly you had to mainly care for, used abusive words at you, how would you react?
4) If you are at home without your employer around and someone rings the doorbell saying he is coming to do some repair. Your employer didn’t tell you anyone was coming, what would you do?
5) The children are arguing with one another over a toy, how would you handle the situation?
6) How would you usually bring a baby to sleep? What if the baby cries for a long time?
7) When you are overwhelmed with your work, will you tell your employer? If “yes”, how? If “no”, Why?

Then, to ensure that the information in the biodata is accurate, you may also want to seek affirmation of some of the information that you think is important to you, especially past working experiences.

Try to figure out the management style of the previous employer. E.g. off day timings, daily work hours, her own meal arrangements, handphone usage etc… and how they differ from your own style and expectations.

Part Two Of The Interview

Here is a list of questions regarding her past working experience and the relationship with her previous employers:

1) Did you manage the household entirely on your own? Was there an elderly or the employer herself who manage the chores with you?
2) Did you have to set a schedule yourself or was a schedule given to you?
3) How do you find following a strict schedule?
4) Can you explain your daily schedule?
5) Do you like to cook? How well can you follow recipes online?
6) What do you cook, how do you cook them?
7) What is the most challenging chore so far?
8) Is there any particular chore you dread doing?

If the domestic helper by far still seems like a positive candidate, then you may proceed to the last set of questions. This set of questions aims at ascertaining her personality, attitude towards her job as a domestic helper and also her capacity to take on your job.

More Questions For The Domestic Helper

The first set of questions is situational and this set is based on their actual work experience as well as their expectations at work. There are no right or wrong answers to this set of questions, it is more for you to find out personality wise, how suitable she is for you.

1) Did you have any problems with any of your previous employers? Was the issue resolved? How was the relationship with your employer after the issue was resolved?
2) Was there a time you went back late on your off day? Does it happen often? What was the reason you went back late?
3) Did you have to do any work on your off day before you go out and after you go back?
4) Which family did you enjoy working for most? Why?
5) Was there a time your employer scolded you terribly? What was the reason for it? What have you learnt from that experience?
6) What would you do when you miss your family?
7) What do you expect from your next employer?
8) What is the most important thing to you in the environment that you work in?
9) What are the things that you cannot accept in an employment?

By the time you have asked the 3 sets of questions, you would have an indication if the helper is the one for you. At this point, do not forget that the domestic helper may also have questions for you. Do allow her some time to ask questions that is important to her.

After the interview

Once the interview is over, you may relook into the list of chores that you have prepared prior to the interview and see how well the interviewed helper matches your criteria and then you should be able to make a decision from there.

That was just a selection process. Having an amicable relationship with your helper and having her effectively work well for your family doesn’t stop here. A lot of effort and empathy are needed from both parties to maintain a good relationship. This effort should not just come from you and the helper alone, nurturing the same to the rest of the family members would make the environment a more positive one for everyone.