Good Help is Hard to Find – How to Interview a Cleaner
Cleaners are born, not created.. but when you do get a good one, its opera! I have a lady from the village who comes in and ‘does’ for 24 hours a week – more like a housekeeper who does everything from housework, to laundry, cleaning silver etc. In the 10 years we’ve had various domestic cleaners, my golden rule is to be polite but very specific about what you want. I now have a list with what I expect to be done in the time that she is here, and then some additional tasks that need to be done every so often (e.g. dusting door frames and skirting boards). It’s most definitely money well spent.
When you are ready to interview prospective cleaners, it is important that you feel comfortable communicating with whomever you hire. Remember, this is an individual that you are going to trust with your home in it’s entirety. Thinking of a domestic cleaner that can, magically, guess your cleaning requirements and get them done with a touch of a magic wand is not at all realistic. Every person has different priorities and expectations and it is important that you communicate them. Before you even arrange the interview, make a plan and prioritise the needs of your household. When doing this consider what tasks you prefer to do yourself and what items or areas in the house are of special importance. My number one top tip is to request a trial period of two to three cleanings, so you have time to evaluate their cleaning over time and to make sure you have a compatible relationship. Because, trust me, there’s is nothing more socially painful than long awkward silences with household staff.
- The length of the interview should ideally be between 10-30 minutes.
- Check their appearance and non verbal communication.
- Be sure to ask a variety of questions including those relating to training, experience, cleaning times and days they are available.
- Show them your priorities and make sure that they understand your needs; it will be easier to get what you want if you make it clear from the start.
- Ironing. Never assume that you are both on the same page about ironing. Everyone has specific preferences. Explain how you would like your shirts to be ironed (creases on your sleeves for example) or what would be the essential clothes for you to be ironed.
- Laundry: It is okay to ask your cleaner to organise the laundry and change the bed linen.
- The interview is a good time to go through the chemicals you have in your house and also get to know the knowledge the domestic cleaner has on the different chemicals and cloths you would like used.
- The keys & security system: No one wants to get called in the middle of an important meeting because the cleaner has turned on the alarm by mistake or locked herself in. It is better to make sure the cleaner knows how the alarm works from the beginning.
- Ask for general background information. Find out how long they have been in the cleaning business, how many houses they clean, what services they provide when cleaning.
- Be diligent about your hire, since this is a stranger you are inviting into your home. You may even ask for character references along with work references to get a better idea of this person’s background.
- Create a short application form and allow your candidate time to fill it out. Some points you’ll want to include are: Full name and ID, reference names and phone numbers, address, phone, and email contact information, whether or not the candidate is insured, emergency contact name and address.
And whatever happens do not let any jealous little losers make you feel as though you are being decadent and lazy. Whilst we still live within a world where women expected to do everything: work, raise children, clean and be good wives/ good friends/good daughters/good daughters-in-laws. It is perfectly acceptable, in fact necessary to hire help. I will never understand the mentality that if your life isn’t extra hard you’re a failure somehow. But you get extra points if, say, your mother and mother-in-law live too far away to help and you’re practically dying of a serious infection but you still won’t pay for help or, if money is seriously lacking, ask a friend for assistance, because that would show weakness. Ah–yet another pressure, to join in the competition over who has the hardest life. It does strike me as yet another social device to get women back in the home where they belong.