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It All Begins With The Interview

Have you ever wondered how come the housekeeping industry has been plagued for so long with dishonest, untruthful and incompetent hands? I mean it shouldn’t be so difficult for agencies to recruit good hands, train them before outsourcing them to people’s homes. Well, if you haven’t, I have. And when I did, I stopped looking to agencies to make that change happen.

While agencies have a responsibility, I realized that maid employers/home owners have a greater responsibility to ensure that these categories of maids do not get into their homes in the first place. I often ask myself how is it that it is only after a maid resumes that the employer starts to complain about her body or mouth odor, or discover that she doesn’t love or want to work with kids.

Employers are quick to push the mantra that “All maids are the same”. But the reason this phrase is relatable across board and many homes is that unfortunately “All employers are the same” also. Employers are yet to recognize how important the interview with candidates is, so they approach it unprepared and mindlessly, and as a result of this, so many red flags fly over their heads.

The interview stage is your only opportunity to determine if a candidate is best fit for your home. It is the only separating funnel between you and the many dishonest maids out there. And if not taken seriously, there is every tendency you employ the wrong one and get entangled in the same cycle all over again.

An interview that will be productive should have a focus. You should go into it prepared to receive clarity on particular areas. Your goal should be to prove that this person is who her agency says she is and that she has the skill, experience, character, intellectual acumen and qualification for the role.

What this means is that before the day of the interview, you should have already determined the role you want to be occupied; housekeeper or Nanny, all-rounder or trained caregiver etc, the skills and experience you need the person to have and down to other tiny little details like tribe, language if that matters to you.

If you don’t know what you are looking for, even if it comes your way, you wouldn’t be able to identify it.

Coming prepared also means that you in position to steer the conversation back on track if at any point the candidate delves into story telling or giving you unneeded and unhelpful information. I have seen home owners who supposedly spend one hour with a candidate yet cannot answer some basic questions about them.

Lastly, preparation puts you ahead of a dishonest person who may come disguised. Your prepared questions will throw him/her off course.

A major mistake employers make is that they waste time asking questions that are not relevant to what is at hand; questions like “Do you have a boyfriend?”

The goal of your interview should be to get your candidate to talk as much as she can in relation to the question asked until you know what you need to or for her to show reactions such as hesitation, fear, discomfort and so on. It is not a time for you to give instructions.

The interview time is not time to give out instructions or rules and regulations. When you do that, you have given your candidate a peek into all what you would want to hear and she will answer accordingly when questions are asked so that she is hired. After resuming, she starts to do something entirely different.

Also, one common issue faced by employers is how to know the right questions to ask. The answer is this: Consider whatever bothers you a potential question.
Major issues that arise after employment are regarding integrity, trust, skill, health, hygiene, security etc For example, you may have never bothered to confirm or prove if the names given to you by the candidates are their real names. For me, instead of stopping at “What is your name?” I go further to ask “Are you known by any other name to family or anyone?” “Do you have a valid ID to backup the name given to me?”

Ensure questions are broken down into the tiniest detail so that your candidate can understand and not give you vague responses.

And because you are going to be detailed in your questioning, anticipate that it will take some time. I usually tell clients to tell their candidate ahead before questioning, to feel comfortable as the interview might take some time. You may first feel uncomfortable having to ask that many questions, picture between 30-35 questions. But you will see that you exhaust the list because it will flow like a normal conversation and you can see through every response you get.

My advice is that you don’t wait till after hiring to discover what you could have found out during the interview.

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