Pre ”V Interview

1. Where to meet?

We have seen mothers conduct interviews at coffee shops, Hong Kong Park, at an agency, in their home or even Ikea!

Choose a location that you are comfortable with, and one that allows you to really focus on the candidate you are interviewing.

For some employers this may mean arranging to meet at a neutral place. Alternatively, employers may prefer to hold interviews in their apartment enabling a helper to see first hand the dynamics of the home environment and possibly meet a few members of the family, which can be beneficial when trying to gauge how well a helper will fit in.

2. When are helpers usually available for interviews?

Helpers no longer under contract should be able to meet with you during the working week.

If a helper is still under employment, interviews may have to be arranged on a Sunday, the day off for most helpers.

3. Is there an ideal time to hold an interview?

Schedule the interview during a quiet time. If you are meeting a candidate in a public place try and avoid the craziness of lunch hour.

If a helper is coming to your home for the interview, schedule it during your child”¦s naptime or a period when there will be no visitors or expected guests.

4. How long do interviews usually last?

It is difficult to determine the length of each interview. You may meet a helper who is as quiet as a mouse or meet a candidate who is responsive and the conversation flows easily and comfortably.

Interviews arranged in 40-60 minute intervals should give allowances for different personalities, unforeseen delays and of course a break for you in between each interview.

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During the Interview

1. Start with a Smile

It”¦s important to remember that first impressions run both ways. You do not want each helper that you interview to run a mile simply because of a cold reception.

Approach these interviews in a professional manner and greet each candidate with a welcoming smile. Make sure you introduce yourself and politely ask her to sit down to start the interview or perhaps offer her a quick tour of the apartment.

2. Documentation

Ask the helper to present her documentation. It is a good idea to verify identity and understand her current employment situation before you proceed with anything else. A candidate should be able to show you:

  1. A copy of her Current Employment Contract
  2. HK ID
  3. Passport showing the expiry and valid date of her work visa
  4. A release letter from her employer (If provided)
  5. Written references and contact details

3. Starting the Dicussion


Get the conversation going by giving an overview of the position available. This is a good way to help the Candidate feel at ease and become receptive to the questions that will follow.

Consider giving a brief on:

Members of your household
Let the helper know who goes to work, school, who stays at home.

Daily Routine
Give a brief rundown of your family”¦s typical day - what happens in the morning, afternoon and evening?

Be clear about what duties will need to be performed. Are you expecting your helper to:

  • Cook
  • Clean
  • Shop

The more specific you are, the better idea she will have about your needs, lessening the chance of any misunderstandings if you proceed with hiring her.

Care of children and/or pets

  • What is the usual routine for your children and/or pets?
  • Will she need to arrange playdates for your children?
  • Will she need to take children to extra curricular activities?
  • Will she need to take your pets for a walk?


  • What facilities will she have access to?
  • Will she be sharing a room with a child or another helper?
  • Will she be provided with her own room?

Working hours
What time do you want your helper to start and finish work?

Rest day
What day will be her day off? If you want someone to take her rest day on saturday, you don”¦t want to spend 40-60 minutes talking to a candidate who you find out is not flexible and insists on having Sunday as her day off.

Are you offering a minimum wage or will you offer a higher salary for a helper who has extensive experience?

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Interview Questions

It”¦s best to have a set of questions prepared before you start the interview. Set time aside to think about what you want to find out about each candidate. Consider the following topics when drafting your set of questions:

1. Motivation

You want to employ someone who takes their job seriously. A good way of understanding a helper”¦s true motivation is to ask about her personal life. Is she married? Does she have any children? Is she working so that her children get a good education or is she supporting her parents livelihood in her home country?

2. Employment History

Asking questions about employment history will give the candidate a chance to tell you of her domestic experience.

You can ask her to describe a typical day in her previous role.

  • What duties did she carry out?
  • Was she responsible for any children and/or pets?
  • What was involved in caring for them?
  • Query her reason for leaving her previous employer
  • Ask about her previous salary.

3. Skill Based

There may be some duties that you are particular about. If you want to employ someone who can cook your family”¦s meals ask specifically about cooking skills.

  • What dishes can she cook?
  • Does she have Specialties?
  • What meals did she prepare for her previous employer?
  • Can she follow recipes?

4. Scenario Based

These types of questions are a great way to avoid non-descriptive yes and no answers.

Think about situations in your household that the helper may have to deal with, describe the scenario to the candidate and ask her what she would do if such an event takes place.

Scenario based questions are useful in determining how a helper would handle an emergency situation with a child she is taking care of, or perhaps understanding how she might handle a last minute request to prepare dinner for unexpected guests.

5. Self-Assessment

Incorporate questions that prompt the candidate to talk about her strengths and weaknesses.

It will help you to determine a candidate”¦s strong points and what might become an issue if you hire her. Consider asking about what she enjoyed most in her previous role, what were the challenges and what she considers her strongest skills and qualities.

6. Personal

A candidate will need to have the necessary skills complete set tasks, but for her to do the job well she also needs to be able to get along with you and members of your family.

To better understand her personality, query her interests, what she does during her free time and if she is a member of any groups or organizations.

7. Health & Habits

From being responsible for her health care to a helper being in constant contact with you and your family, it is always good to ask her about her health and habits.

  • Does she have any existing medical conditions?
  • What is her history of being sick in Hong Kong?
  • Has ever been admitted to hospital?
  • Is she willing to undergo a pre employment health check up?
  • Raise the subject of smoking and alcohol consumption ”V does she avoid these altogether or take it up on a regular or social basis?

8. Financial

Helpers are here to try and lift themselves and their families out of poverty so it is important you question her financial situation.

Has she taken out any loans? Ask her about how she services the loan, the amount and when the loan will be repayed.

Loans are a way of life. If the helper has a manageable loan and she is responsible it should not be a problem. Be mindful however of guarantors. Your helper may not have a loan but she may have naively signed as a guarantor for a friend or relative in Hong Kong or in her home town. This is not an ideal situation as this is where you might encounter an unpleasant loan shark.

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Ending the interview

Thank the candidate for her time. Give her an indication of when you will contact her if you are interested.

It”¦s also worth asking if she has received any other offers and if an employment application is being processed at Hong Kong immigration.

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