Many times we find ourselves needing the extra help. We need to bring a stranger home, that stranger we commonly refer to as House manager, House help, Domestic manager, nanny however you prefer. We intend to include him/her, be part of our family and take care of our most precious belongings; our children. The challenge is, society isn’t an all roses place. We have a mix of good, bad and ugly. We can’t tell one’s character by just looking at first contact.
Thus we need a system to help differentiate the good from the pretenders. After a continuous series of hiring, firing and surviving. I managed to compile a list of the probable questions you may use to question a potential House manager.
Name, Age, Place of Stay (Rural)
This is the first step to knowing the person and where s/he originates from. Knowledge of age sometimes helps determines the level of maturity one may have to handle the tasks you want to give. Some tasks need younger people and some need a much older person. Though in some cases, the further you investigate, you get to know the person better and make a more sound decision. Good knowledge of location, sub-location and village really help in case you need to trace a person or his/her family down in case of an emergency. This is key information that you note down you could even do a background later if you know people from the region.
Marital status, Number of children or dependents
To know the marital status of your potential House Manager will help you have a sound knowledge of what to expect as you work together. The number of children, if they have any helps you to gauge the level of responsibility they have on their shoulders. House managers come into our lives with a mission to work, get compensated enough to make their lives. It’s key to note that if they aren’t comfortable with what you are offering as cash compensation, chances are they won’t last long. This knowledge also helps you to give appropriate gifts as you send her home for holidays.
It’s key to know where they worked previously and their reasons for living the place (s). You can go further and ask for the contact of a former employer(s) in order to call and verify the information. From the reasons why the left, the attitude the respond with tells really a lot whether this is a person you could work with or not.
Work history also enables you the employer to know the work experience the house manager has. If it’s in line with your job description or not. If not then you’ll know where and how to train them to work according to your description. E.g. If you want her to handle children, has she handled children before, what age and how many?
Identification Documents and NHIF
Never, I repeat, Never hire help without an ID. The person could be under age only to realize it when you are in trouble. It’s against the Kenyan law to hire a person under the age of 18.
ID document also really helps in tracking down the real origin of the House manager. This can be used as a reference point to verify the information s/he had given earlier.
Holiday, off, and Leave expectations
Get to know which days she prefers going off, and see if it works with your schedule. If it doesn’t ask around if you can negotiate around it. The keyword is to negotiate not to force. In Kenya, every worker is viable for 21 leave days. Ask what she has in mind of her leave days and again you can negotiate how to administer it.
Level of education
This helps to know which level she left school and inform you of the plans she has on her future goals on returning to school. This also helps you to judge if she can handle the job description you have. E.g. I once hired a really nice lady at her work, but she had never gone to school, so it was a challenge for her to oversee my child’s homework when I wasn’t around.
Name of school and location attended could also help you track down her family in case of emergency. Schools administration always has information of the students attended and they could help if that was the last call.
Life goals and expectations
Get to know their life plan and goals. That will easily help you to project how long s/he is willing to work for you before leaving to pursue other goals.
For the singles, on may be willing to work for a given time as they plan for their wedding. Most of them after the wedding they normally are not ready to go back to the house employment, they usually open up businesses to fend for themselves as they begin their next chapters to life.
What other questions do you feel should be asked when sourcing for House managers? Do let us know so that we can engage and enlighten.