Tips for Domestic Job Seekers

Prerequisites

Private Service can be a satisfying and rewarding career. Being a professional in any of the private service positions involves more than managing vendors, pushing a vacuum cleaner or planning a party. These are some of the basic skills that the successful private service professional must possess:

  • Ability to determine the employer’s expectations of you and how they like their home to operate. Be willing to ask if necessary.
  • Having a helpful attitude, cooperative thinking, appreciation for routine, and a consistent and methodical approach.
  • Being willing to help other staff without being asked.
  • Being willing to do whatever is required and go “that extra mile” for the employer.
  • Being friendly not familiar.

Be prepared to:

  • Know what to do if there is not enough time to complete the work.
  • Deal with malfunctioning equipment and handle the inevitable laundry problems
  • Deal with gossip and negativity from co-workers and deal with other staff not doing their part.
  • Understand poor work ethic- cell phone calling etc. inappropriate breaks, shopping trips that are too long or not efficiently planned.

2 Minute Interview Tips

People decide if they like you within two seconds of meeting you. Here is how to make sure your first impression is a good one…

  1. Smile. If you are worried that your smile doesn’t look natural, try standing six inches from a mirror and saying the word “great” in funny voices. This will almost certainly make you smile. The next time you meet someone, think great. A natural smile will form.
  2. Notice eye color. This ensures that you are meeting the other person’s gaze. Poor eye contact suggests you have something to hide. But don’t stare — it may make him/her uncomfortable. Oddly enough, occasionally looking at your hands conveys the impression of active listening.
  3. Use “open” body language. Keep your arms uncrossed and hands unclenched. If you are unsure of what to do with your hands, put them in your back pockets or at your sides.
  4. Point your heart toward the heart of the other person.
  5. Mirror the other person’s gestures and body language. People take an instant liking to those who are similar to themselves. If you meet someone who is loud and talks with his hands, be equally loud and use the same gestures. If the person laughs a lot, do the same.
  6. Ask open-ended questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. Questions beginning with Have you…?, Are you…? and Do you..? are conversation killers. They can be answered with one word — yes or no.

More Interview Tips

  1. Candidate shows up on time (or calls if running late) and is neatly groomed and dressed appropriately for the position being applied for, the interview location, and the climate. Go easy on the make-up, scents and trendy outfits. Business attire is generally a good all around choice.
  2. Candidate has reviewed the job description/requirements and made a list (and memorized) all the reasons (with examples) that they would succeed in the job.
  3. Candidate should be able to answer clearly where they want to be in 3-5 years and how the job helps them get there.
  4. Candidate does not speak negatively about previous employers. One important “don’t” is to avoid bad-mouthing earlier employers; it often signals a bitterness and untrustworthiness to the prospective employer that most prefer not to have in their own home. OK to say it is or was not a good fit. “Employer has a strong personality” is one way to phrase it.
  5. Candidate should be able to clearly and confidently explain their strengths and weaknesses.
  6. Candidate should project a positive “can do/will do” attitude.
  7. Candidate stays focused and answers the questions that are asked.
  8. Candidate sends a thank you note after the interview.
  9. Candidate expresses interest in the job at the end of the interview (if applicable).

The interview should be a time to gauge the personality fit, but it may be an opportunity to get additional details. Be prepared to ask questions:

  • What is the employers business and how are he / she / they regarded in the community?
  • What does the employer envision as a typical work day and work week?
  • What is the best way to communicate with the employer when on the job- by meeting once a day, voice mail, email, sticky notes? This gives you a sense of the style of the employer.
  • “What annoys you about staff behavior?” (So you get a sense of what is really important to them. It may be that they do not like to be interrupted except in emergencies, perhaps they do not like cooking odors past the kitchen- it can be many things and is a good conversation starter.
  • Who will be the main employer contact?
  • Has there been someone in this position previously? If so for how long, why left etc.
  • If new position, is there a more complete job description or “a typical day” outline?
  • Is there other staff that you can talk to learn more about the position?
  • Who is to be served i.e. the make-up of the family including the in house family and any extended family. This tips you off if you are going to be involved with the Boss’s mother in-law living across town.
  • What is the uniform policy / dress code?
  • Vacation days, sick days, policy when one works the holidays, medical and dental benefits, car privileges, moving expense policy etc. Make sure these details are clear before you hire on but don’t ask about the salary at this point. It can turn off employers if discussed. Only discuss it after you have been accepted.
  • When will I hear back about this position and your interest in me as a candidate? You will hear back from the agency if you’re accepted.

How to Answer 10 Tough Interview Questions

By Rachel Zupek

There’s no worse feeling than when you’re in an interview and the interviewer asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer. The best way to handle this is to go into the interview prepared. Familiarize yourself with a few common difficult questions and arm yourself with answers prepared ahead of time.

Check out these tough interview questions and some suggested responses in order to avoid an interview disaster:

Tough question No. 1: “Tell me about yourself.”
This is usually the opening question in an interview and it’s the perfect moment for you to toot your own horn — not to tell your life history. Your answers should be a quick rundown of your qualifications and experience. Talk about your education, work history, recent career experience and future goals.

Suggested answer: “I graduated from University X and since then, I have been working in public relations with an agency where I have generated some projects, increase sales, delivered excellent customer service… While I’ve enjoyed working on the agency side, I’m looking to expand my knowledge and horizons.”

Tough question No. 2: “Why did you leave your last job?”
This is your chance to talk about your experience and your career goals, not to bad-mouth a former boss or give a laundry list of reasons for your exit. Instead, focus on what you learned in your previous position and how you are ready to use those skills in a new position.

Suggested answer: “The Company just wasn’t a good fit for my creativity, but I learned that organizations have distinct personalities just like people do. Now I know where I’ll be a better fit.”

Tough question No. 3: “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Let the employer know that you’re stable and you want to be with this company for the long haul. Keep your aspirations to take over the firm with which you are interviewing, own your own company, retire at 40 or be married with five children to yourself.

Suggested answer: “I want to secure a civil engineering position with a national firm that concentrates on retail development. Ideally, I would like to work for a young company, such as this one, so I can get in on the ground floor and take advantage of all the opportunities a growing firm has to offer.”

Tough question No. 4: “What are your weaknesses?”
The key to answering this age-old question is not to respond literally. Your future employer most likely won’t care if your weak spot is that you can’t cook, nor do they want to hear the generic responses, like you’re “too detail oriented” or “work too hard.” Respond to this query by identifying areas in your work where you can improve and figure out how they can be assets to a future employer. If you didn’t have the opportunity to develop certain skills at your previous job, explain how eager you are to gain that skill in a new position.

Suggested answer: “In my last position, I wasn’t able to develop my public-speaking skills. I’d really like to be able to work in a place that will help me get better at giving presentations and talking in front of others.”

Tough question No. 5: “Why were you laid off?”
This question will become more common as the economy continues to slow down. It’s a tough question, however, especially because many workers aren’t told exactly why they were laid off. The best way to tackle this question is to answer as honestly as possible.

Suggested answer: “As I’m sure you’re aware, the economy is tough right now and my company felt the effects of it. I was part of a large staff reduction and that’s really all I know. I am confident, however, that it had nothing to do with my job performance, as exemplified by my accomplishments. For example…”

Tough question No. 6: “Tell me about the worst boss you ever had.”
Never, ever talk badly about your past bosses. A potential boss will anticipate that you’ll talk about him or her in the same manner somewhere down the line.

Suggested answer: “While none of my past bosses were awful, there are some who taught me more than others did. I’ve definitely learned what types of management styles I work with the best.”

Tough question No. 7: How would others describe you?
You should always be asking for feedback from your colleagues and supervisors in order to gauge your performance; this way, you can honestly answer the question based on their comments. Keep track of the feedback to be able to give to an employer, if asked. Doing so will also help you identify strengths and weaknesses.

Suggested answer: “My former colleagues have said that I’m easy to do business with and that I always hit the ground running with new projects. I have more specific feedback with me, if you’d like to take a look at it.”

Tough question No. 8: “What can you offer me that another person can’t?”
This is when you talk about your record of getting things done. Go into specifics from your résumé and portfolio; show an employer your value and how you’d be an asset.

Suggested answer: “I’m the best person for the job. I know there are other candidates who could fill this position, but my passion for excellence sets me apart from the pack. I am committed to always producing the best results. For example…”

Tough question No. 9: “If you could choose any company to work for, where would you go?”
Never say that you would choose any company other than the one where you are interviewing. Talk about the job and the company for which you are being interviewed.

Suggested answer: “I wouldn’t have applied for this position if I didn’t sincerely want to work with your organization.” Continue with specific examples of why you respect the company with which you are interviewing and why you’ll be a good fit.

Tough question No. 10: “Would you be willing to take a salary cut?”
Salary is a delicate topic. In today’s tough economy though, how much a company can afford to pay you might be the deal breaker in whether or not you are offered a position.

Suggested answer: “I’m making $X now. I understand that the salary range for this position is $XX – $XX. Like most people, I would like to improve on my salary, but I’m more interested in the job itself than the money. I would be open to negotiating a lower starting salary but would hope that we can revisit the subject in a few months after I’ve proved myself to you.”

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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