For some of us, being able to employ a domestic helper is one of the best things about living in Singapore. Employing a helper means we get to spend more time with our children and less cleaning the house, we have babysitting (or dog walking) on tap, and whereas childcare costs back home restrict many of us, we can afford to work here. Finding the right domestic helper for your family can be difficult, but asking these top 10 questions should help.
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 Singapore to another, ask why. If she has transferred from a series of employers, without good reason (i.e. the family leaving Singapore) 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. Find out 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 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. Set ground rules and make it clear what’s a deal breaker, i.e. stealing from you, or asking for money advances.
10. How would she discipline a child?
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.