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December 2nd, 2020

How to hire the right private staff - questions we ask when interviewing the right staff for you

When comes the times comes for you to meet and interview your future housekeeper, nanny, chef or personal assistance for the first time, you might start to have a lot of doubts about what to ask them to how to get to know them better to make sure that they are the best option for you and your family. The following are some steps to take before the interview, which will give you the advantage of getting the most out of it; thinking about what you need will guide you to prepare the list of what the person that you are meeting needs to have as musts or must nots. In the following lines, we will give some advice on how to hire the right private staff. Preparing will always save you a lot of time and help you to reduce the process as much as you can to choose the right candidate for your family.

Making a requirements list

The first step that you will need to do is to think about the requirements your nanny, housekeeper, chef, or handyman needs to have. You may have some compulsory requirements, like a Paediatric First Aid certificate if you are looking to hire a nanny, a driver’s licence, DBS check or a specific diploma if you are looking to hire someone to manage your properties or if you are searching for personal assistance. It would be well worth confirming if any of the candidates that you are planning to interview match with the requirements in your musts side of the list before booking an interview with them.

For example, if your family speaks another language other than English, you might put as a compulsory requirement that the candidate needs to speak the second language that is used in the house, like French, Spanish or Danish. You might also need someone with senior experience instead of a junior. If you are looking to hire a chef, it will be good to check the cooking background that they have to make sure that they are familiar with the family’s taste. Always think about the role for which you are looking and what you will like that person to have.

Creating a Must list is important, but putting some requirements in the Mustn’t list is necessary too. Maybe your nanny has a driver’s licence and experience driving in the countryside, and you would like to find a nanny who can speak German, but if the person doesn’t speak the language, this doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t consider interviewing them. Be clear about what’s necessary for your family and what’s not.

Preparing for the interview

After thinking about the requirements that you need the candidate to have, have some thoughts about where you would like to meet the candidate. Would you like to have a video call for the first stage or would you like to meet the candidate face-to-face? Knowing this will make you feel comfortable; we advise families to interview the candidates by video call first, and then to make a second interview at their home with those that they most like. Some families will meet the candidate at a nearby café for example.

Time is something that you may consider too. Make enough time in your agenda to interview, and arrange for a time when you can be relaxed and focused. If you are interviewing more than one candidate on the same day, putting a break between all the interviews will give you spare time to go through all your notes after you finish meeting the candidate to add any other new notes that you may think of. Giving yourself a break between interviews will not only give you time to go through your notes, but will also give you a buffer if the interview goes longer that you thought, so the next candidate won’t be waiting for you for a long time.

Take into consideration that not only are you interviewing the candidate – they too will be making their own notes and decision if they will be happy and comfortable working with your family; it’s always a good idea to be welcoming and friendly. You might want to consider offering a cup of tea and a biscuit or two!

Personality matters

One point to consider is the personality of your candidate. Thinking about the personality of your previous employees will help you a lot: what did you like and not like from them? Are you looking for someone who is charming and chatting or do you like people with more reserved personalities?

For example, if you are looking to hire a nanny and your family is really into sports, it might be useful to find someone who enjoys doing exercise and being really active, but if your children are into art, the best match will be a nanny who is creative. Another case could be that you are looking to hire a personal assistance, and you are someone who is really methodical, so you will need a candidate who is good at following instructions, but for other things, if you want the personal assistance to find solutions to some of your problems, it will be good to find a candidate that won’t think twice about giving advice.

Asking the right questions

Before you start to talk about the details of the job, it's a good idea to ask the nanny to introduce themselves and talk about general ideas about the job. This will give you an overall picture as to the kind of person they are and if their ideas and priorities match your own. Questions should be open to allow the candidate to express themselves in their own words.

When hiring private staff, interview questions could include:

  • What made you decide to become a [introduce career] in the first place?
  • What do you think makes a good [introduction career]?
  • When you are looking for a position as a [introduce career], what qualities do you think are important in a family?
  • What do you think are the greatest risks that you can face as [introduce career]?

You might want to consider describing certain situations and ask how the candidate would deal with them. Asking about their current or previous positions will give you a good idea about their experience. If you are interviewing a prospective nanny, asking them to describe the children that they have worked with will give you an insight into how they relate to children.

If you have not reviewed references before the interview, it is definitely worth doing so as soon as possible afterwards. You will then be in a position to make an offer and formalise a contract quickly, as you don't want to find yourself in a position where you have someone who you think would be perfect, but then they find a different position before you can get the contract signed.

Booking a Trial

After interviewing your future nanny, housekeeper, chef or personal assistant, you might feel that they are the right person, so you would like to hire them as soon as possible. Maybe you’re not 100% sure about them; you like how they did in the interview, but you are not completely convinced. It’s here that having a Trial really comes in handy; offering the candidate to come for a few hours one day, some days or for a week before starting the employment will give you a better idea of how they will be working with them.

Remember not to be too harsh with them for the first few days; if you didn’t like how they handled a task, showing them how you would do it or how you like it will help them to adjust to the new employment.

How to find the best private staff?

After reading this article, you will probably ask yourself: how can I find the perfect private staff for me or my family?

We truly believe that finding any private staff is an important decision. It is not just because you will have to invest some money, but because you will open the door of one of your most important places to someone outside of the family. You are not only looking for someone who will come to clean, look after your children or cook for the family for a few hours a day - you are looking for someone who will become part of your family, someone that you will trust to be in your home and help you with any problem that might occur.

You can search for a private staff 1. By yourself, 2. Friend recommendation or 3. through our Agency.

It’s here that Little Ones comes into the scenario to help you; we are a nanny and domestic staff agency with over 15 years of experience. Our specialist consultants will do their best to match the perfect housekeeper for you and your family. They will introduce you to housekeepers that will tick the majority of the requirements and qualifications that you need the person to have.

Call us for a free consultation, without compromise. Our consultant will be more than happy to assist you to find amazing private staff. For more information about our services, please feel free to contact our direct line 0207 183 0309.

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