Having staff working within your household or caring for your family can be a big leap of faith, as you are essentially giving people outside of your family circle access to your personal ‘kingdom’. There have always been reservations over whether an interview is an adequate means of establishing the suitability of potential staff, particularly when looking to fill a position within a home.
However, you should have confidence that your Consultant has done all the ground work and thoroughly assessed the candidate from the paperwork provided, and their initial personal meeting, as well as checking their references with former employers, and therefore you should be generally assured that this person is worth seeing.
If you decide to take them to the interview stage, then your feeling about the candidate is the most important – after all, this person could be in your home 5 or 6 days a week, or all the time if the position is Live In - you have to be sure the chemistry is right and that this person ticks as many of your boxes as possible. Your interview with them is a key part of the employment process and one to be taken very seriously in terms of preparation of the questions and how to make the most of this short opportunity.
Here are some of Greycoat Lumleys’ top tips for interviewing potential staff:
The early part of the interview should put the candidate at ease and provide the basis for a two way dialogue. The best interviews are those where the interviewer and the interviewee both talk and listen for 50% of the time.
The questions you ask really matter; think them through and prepare them carefully. Ask the wrong questions and you might only hear what you want to hear.
To encourage the candidate to talk, the interviewer needs to ask open ended questions and only ask closed question (requiring just a yes or no answer) for confirmation of facts.
Make sure you allow plenty of time to have an in-depth discussion with the candidate and perhaps show them around the house and the accommodation – a hurried chat simply will not suffice.
It is also worth bearing in mind they may have travelled a long way to see you, so they deserve your full attention – try to have a period of time to talk without interruption.
You may want to decide in advance whether to introduce them to the children or perhaps the other staff, if there are any – or at least, organise the option to, if you decide you like them.
Have a copy of the job description – make sure they have seen it and understand the roles and responsibilities – question them about anything that is unclear to them.
Even though your Consultant will have carefully interviewed the candidate, do ask about any gaps in their CV if these concern you.
If their CV says ‘A great Cook’ then do ask them to expand on this – perhaps give you examples of their favourite dish and how they would prepare it? If they claim to have a grasp of, ‘Conversational French’ – don’t be afraid to try them out!
Take the opportunity to explain your ‘house rules’ – regarding smoking, pets, partners, visitors, use of staff car etc – if any of these get a bad response, you know this candidate is not the one for you!
First impressions count - a limp handshake, fidgeting and lack of eye contact do not impress.
Suggested questions to ask:
What has been your greatest challenge in your present job?
What would be your priority if you started working here?
Which of all the different duties you do is your favourite? Why?
What is your greatest strength?
On a final note, it is perhaps worth remembering the two minute rule;
“Interviews are won or lost within the first two minutes and no single answer should last more than two minutes.”