What do I ask when interviewing a domestic helper?

Many of us come to Hong Kong eager to embrace the accessibility of domestic help. But often finding the right person to live in our house, take care of our children, and frankly be privy to our private life is no easy task.

Every family has different needs and wants when it comes to domestic help and the hiring process can be trying. People use agencies, classifieds or word-of-mouth. Often meeting the right person takes much trial-and-error and sometimes it is just a matter of instant “chemistry”. But once you have candidates lined up, what are the best ways to handle the interview — questions to ask and topics to raise?

While, “go with your gut” seems to rule when it comes to hiring a domestic helper, experienced Hong Kong Moms offer up plenty of suggestions on how to manage this process:

  • ask for references, specifically the contact information from previous employers so, you can speak with them directly
  • what is her exact childcare experience (what age children has she looked after and for how long)
  • discuss your “house rules”
  • specify your family’s schedule from morning-to-night
  • ask about her daily routine
  • explain the potential duties in detail
  • be upfront with your expectations
  • ask her how she would react in certain challenging or emergency scenarios
  • ask about her safety skills, if any
  • does she know the number for HK emergency services
  • have her list her strengths and weakness
  • know your priorities (i.e. baby care, cooking, cleaning, etc) and see if that aligns with her strengths
  • create an “application form” for her to fill out
  • observe the helper interacting with your children and look for a great attitude
  • is she open to feedback from you
  • does she have debts (be wary of those involved with “loan-sharks”)
  • what are her likes/dislikes from her previous job
  • what did she learn the most from your previous job
  • why did she leave her previous employer
  • what does she look for in an employer
  • directly ask about work ethics
  • does she consider helper a hard worker
  • be specific about how you expect her to interact/discipline with your children

Looking for more advice? Helpwise is a support service for families looking to hire and establish a healthy relationship with a domestic helper, and offers workshops on hiring.

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