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Hiring a helper: 10 questions to ask

For some of us, being able to employ a domestic helper is one of the best things about living in Hong Kong. But the hiring process can be tricky, the EL team often get asked for advice about the best helper interview questions. If you haven’t gotten to the interview stage and are still looking for candidates, a reputable company is HelperChoice. Hiring the right person means we get to spend more time with our children and less cleaning the house. Consequently, finding the right domestic helper for your family can be difficult, but asking these top 10 questions should help.

Hiring a helper in Hong Kong


10 helper interview questions

1. Ask for references, and make sure you can speak to her previous employer, don’t take written references as gospel.

2. Has she taken any first aid courses, if so when and with whom. If she hasn’t, does she know any basic first aid (ask her to talk you through any procedures she does know).

3. What’s her favourite ‘go to’ recipe? Ask her to talk you through how she makes it. This means you can check her spoken English as well.

4. If she’s transferring from one family in Hong Kong to another, ask why. If she has transferred from a series of employers, without good reason (i.e. the family leaving Hong Kong) and without finishing her contracts, investigate why thoroughly.

5. Is she married, and does she have children? Her personal situation will have some bearing on her skill set.

6. Ask her to share some motivation about why she is doing this job. Is she working to pay for her family back home, does she have plans to go back at a certain point, is she building up to starting a business when she does go home? Finding out about her future plans means that if you do employ her you can help support her, and both of you can work out an exit plan.

7. Asking typical helper interview questions like ‘do you like children’, cleaning and ironing, are pretty pointless. Instead ask her what she feels her strengths are, what is she best at? Does she work to a cleaning schedule, and if so can she give you a quick run down of it.

8. If you have young kids find out what nursery rhymes she knows, what games she likes to play with children, or recipes she can cook with the kids.

9. Share your family’s ground rules and make it clear what’s a deal breaker, i.e. stealing from you, or asking for money advances.

10. Enquire into how she would discipline a child. And speak about the differences and similarities in your approaches.

And finally, here’s a bonus point: trust your instincts, go with your gut, whatever you want to call it. If you have a bad feeling, walk away, and if you have a good feeling, go for it. All the best helper interview questions are wasted if you don’t feel comfortable with that person.

See more in our Living in Hong Kong section

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