Finding the right maid (ayah) to care for your baby is a challenge. After all, it's difficult to trust someone with your baby. But with a bit of patience and perseverance, it is possible to find someone who you feel comfortable about and who you believe will care for your baby well.
When looking to hire a maid (ayah), the interview is critical. It is when you meet and speak to the maid that you will form your opinion of her. And many agencies or maids want you to make up your mind about hiring them at the interview or soon after.
To make the most of the interview, you should know exactly what you are looking for so that you can judge how each candidate measures up and compare one to the next. Read on for some help in interviewing a potential maid.
How can I prepare to interview a maid (ayah)?
Just like any job interview, it is important that you are ready with questions before hand. List out all the questions you want to ask. Add a list of the qualities that you wish for in your maid and the habits that are a definite no-no for you. Also think about what you are ready to compromise on.
What should I look for in a maid (ayah) for my baby?
While each family might have its specific wishes, some basic qualities make for a good care taker. Here are some things to look for:
Trust. It is important that the person who will be taking care of your baby is trustworthy. This is perhaps the hardest quality to judge when meeting someone for the first time. One way of deciding if the applicant is trustworthy is by looking at her track record. Ask the maid for contacts of people whom she has worked with earlier. This way you can talk to her previous employers to know how satisfied they were with her. Also, trust your instinct. Sometimes, it's easy to form an opinion straight away, at others, all might seem well on the surface but you have a nagging suspicion or hesitance you can't explain. Whatever you feel, go with what your gut tells you. Even if your gut is wrong, it's better to be safe than sorry.
Responsibility. The person should be dependable and responsible enough to take your baby's well-being seriously. You can judge someone's sense of responsibility by speaking to previous employers and asking for specific examples that showed her dependability. You can also describe a scenario to your maid in which your baby gets hurt. Ask her how she would act in such a situation. If the maid responds that she would care for the baby and inform you immediately by phone, it shows she is responsible. Accidents do happen and when they do, it is important that you should be informed immediately. If the maid says that she would never let your baby get hurt, she might have a tendency to cover up or hide when something wrong does happen behind your back.
Love of children. It might seem obvious but not all maids looking for a job do like children. If they do, they will be happier working for you and your baby will be better cared for and loved. You might be able to gauge this by seeing how the maid interacts with your child during the interview. Introduce your baby and see how she responds. Or you can let your baby play near you during the interview and see if she is interested in what your baby is doing or makes an attempt to connect.
Patience. When it comes to babies, patience is important. A baby might cry or throw a tantrum for any reason. The maid needs to be able to handle these situations without losing patience. Ask her about how many children she has worked with and what she usually does to soothe an upset or angry baby.
Willingness to learn. Each family is different and has slightly different customs when it comes to raising their child. To be happy with your maid, she needs to be someone who is willing to adapt herself to your parenting style. Sometimes, especially if the maid has raised her own children, she might try to impose her child rearing beliefs on you. There might be a few things you can learn from her, but she should also respect that you might want to do things differently.
Hygiene. Several illnesses such as diarrhoea, coughs, colds and the flu, can be transmitted through lack of simple hygiene. To judge your maid's hygiene standard, see how she presents herself for the interview. You can also discuss certain key hygiene points that you feel strongly about such as washing hands with soap, keeping nails short, keeping hair tied up, etc. See how she reacts to your concerns.
How can I be sure the maid I choose is the right one for my baby?
The truth is that you can't! You can choose the person you think will work best, but only after seeing the maid over time will you be able to be sure that you have made the right choice. You can tell the maid that you will have a probation period of a month or three months after which you will decide to keep her for longer.
Are there any other things I need to keep in mind while interviewing a maid?
Be clear on the tasks the maid will be required to do, her working hours, salary and holiday allowance. Also discuss what will happen if she falls sick. You will both be happier if all these things are discussed at the outset and you have a clear idea of what to expect from each other.
Ask questions to know how the maid would handle emergency situations. Does she know how to use a first aid kit and a phone? Does she know any of the emergency numbers?
Ask for a police verification proof, as well as for identification proof and address proof (such as a ration card, aadhar card, voter's ID or a birth certificate).
Find out how comfortable the maid is with nappy changing and cleaning up after potty accidents. Some maids agree to play and feed your baby, but not clean up dirty nappies. If you sense some hesitation, it may be worthwhile to look for someone else.
If this is the first time you are hiring household help, it might seem very difficult to let a stranger into your home. And usually, only bad news sells, so the stories about maids in the media are often quite frightening. But there are some nice people out there who are looking for a nice home to work in. With a bit of patience and luck, you will find such a person for your baby.
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