Interviewing thoughtfully: Vital steps to find trusted staff

When you’re hiring an employee who will be in your home and around your family every day, you need someone who is capable of doing the job, worthy of your trust and also a good fit in terms of temperament.

It’s a tall order.


A well-conducted interview is an essential step in the hiring process. By asking the right questions, you can determine if a candidate will fit into your household, has the necessary skill set, is a team player and has significant motivation and enthusiasm. But when an interview isn’t conducted properly, it can cause untold problems for you and the employee down the road.


Consider one recent example: Several weeks after a nanny began working with a family, her employer asked her to do additional work, such as cleaning while the children were at school, raking the lawn, paying bills and cooking family meals. Since these duties weren’t discussed during the interview or before she accepted the job, the nanny was uncomfortable with the added responsibility and quit without notice. The family was left without childcare and had to begin the employment process again.


Private staffing experts recommend addressing the following topics to help you uncover the most useful information:

  • Education or training in relation to the position
  • Work experience in the field, work history and ability to provide references
  • Responsibilities in his/her previous position
  • Likes and dislikes of the previous position, and the reason for leaving
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • Allergies or other necessary information

Note: Some questions, such as those related to race, religion, age, marital status, pregnancy, disabilities, etc., are illegal to ask according to U.S. employment laws.


Job description checklist

Once you have a good idea of the candidate’s background, move on to describing what the job entails and what your expectations are. You can use this checklist as a guide to make sure you cover the most important points, but tailor it to each position for which you’re hiring.


1. Responsibilities
  • Review the position and describe in detail the duties and expectations.
  • Go over the ages of the children and their activities for nannies or any position that would have regular contact with your children.
  • Review a typical daily or weekly schedule.
  • Indicate whether the candidate will be required to run errands.
  • Go over any pet care details.

2. Driving and transportation
  • For jobs that require driving, establish whether the candidate will drive his or her own car, or if you will provide one.
  • Discuss a mileage or gas reimbursement plan if the applicant's car is to be used.
  • If driving is not necessary for the job, go over any transportation allowance details provided. If a car is provided for personal use, discuss frequency, cost and restrictions.
  • Review what to do in the event of an accident.

3. Hours and salary
  • Discuss the required hours of the position and any flexibility that is needed.
  • Review salary structure (hourly, weekly or monthly) and overtime opportunities.
  • When needed, ask the candidate about willingness and availability to work weekends, evenings or other specific times.

4. Live-in applicant information
  • Describe the living arrangements.
  • Indicate whether you have a household curfew.
  • Inform the candidate of who will be responsible for the payment of any utility bills.

In your notes during the interview, record your initial and final impressions: punctuality, grooming, poise, energy, professionalism and other highlights that appeal or do not appeal to you. You’ll need these later to make your final decision. The more candidates you interview, the harder it can be to remember specific details and impressions for each one.


Background checks: A final note before you hire

In addition to their primary responsibilities, full-time or part-time private staff can help keep family and valuables out of harm’s way. However, it’s imperative to confirm that those with access to your loved ones and property are both qualified and credible. Background checks can be used to verify information provided by a prospective or new hire, as well as to confirm what is known about an individual who currently has access to the home, family or confidential documents.


Last updated: Friday, April 28, 2017

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