Cadbury the Butler Q&A

Private Staff Hiring Stories

Dear Cadbury,
I have been waiting for 3 weeks since my interview to hear about whether they want me or not. The agent says they are traveling and not responding to his phone calls. Isn’t this unusual?

Dear AC,
There are many frustrations in the hiring process and most of us have experienced some of them. From sending in a resume and getting no response to interviewing and being told that you will be contacted and no one ever does. My experience is that if you are the right “fit” and the employer is a legitimate one, than you will usually hear back quickly-within a few days. When you don’t hear back, you may have to assume that they are not serious and move on. Of course, sometimes employers are premature in the process by looking for a staff member for a position opening 3 months in the future. That is perhaps acceptable if you are currently employed, but not feasible if you need a job now. Always ask the agency or the employer “what is the timetable for this hire?”
– Cadbury

Dear Cadbury,
I recently interviewed a Butler for the top position in my home and decided that I would not hire him because he seemed to not be decisive enough. During several hours he was with us, I had the opportunity to “test” him. At one point when I had a phone call to take, I asked him to unpack and put away a bag of groceries. When I returned in 10 minutes the groceries were neatly lined up on the counter. The candidate stated that he did not know how / where I liked things to be put away. I took it as a lack of initiative- your thoughts?

Dear CE,
The Butler should have gone ahead and put things away as you requested in the best manner possible. Looking at it from the Butlers perspective, it might seem correct to get clarification about the house protocols for storing groceries BUT, that would come about in an orientation when hired. The savvy Butler might have guessed that this exercise was a “test” and put everything away in the most logical manner. Butlers watch out for these interview tests!
– Cadbury

Dear Cadbury,
Recently we agreed verbally to a couple‚Äôs position for a nice family. Everything was going very well and we even had a move in date. Then the boom was lowered. We received an email from the employer that had attached a different contract from what we had discussed. On this contract there were some alarming changes made. The terms personal care, care giving and part time baby nurse were included. We almost went through the ceiling! What a shock. I emailed him back and reminded him of our agreement after spending the good part of a day with him. As it turns out they and were trying to find a way to get us to commit to providing intimate care for their aunt when the needs arises. They also had the idea that we would provide childcare services for their son’s infant! I told them that that we are not caregivers and we don’t do children. Can you believe this? We told them that we would not sign such a contract. I wouldn’t have expected it of them. I told Mr. in an email that he will not find a professional couple who will consider such an offer and that at best he may encounter novices in private service who will ignorantly take on the challenge but will eventually reach the burn out stage. What do you think?

Dear JEG,
I always recommend that a basic job description be a part of job agreements. You were lucky that the employer sought to clarify things before you made the actual move and started the position. It does sound like there was some “bait and switch” going on since you spent a whole day interviewing. It would seem that would provide enough time to cover the employer’s expectations for the position. It is true that persons experienced in private service often have a more realistic appreciation for what duties comprise a good long term opportunity and what situations are doomed to failure. Good luck in your search.
– Cadbury

Dear Cadbury,
I recently went to an interview for a wealthy older gentleman for a cook / personal assistant position. Later in the week the man called and asked if I would like to “try out” and cook a meal. I said, “Fine, when can I stop buy to pick up money for the groceries?”. He suggested that I buy the groceries and he would reimburse me. I said, “No, I would prefer to purchase supplies with your money”. He then said, “Well, let’s forget it”. Was I wrong?

Dear FR,
Private service at its best is based upon mutual respect. You and the gentleman really do not know each other. What you asked was reasonable. Many persons in private service can relate the times they had to ask to be reimbursed and the employer forgot, or did not have the cash on hand etc.

On the other hand the Gentleman assumed that he should be trusted and felt put off when you were firm.

This relationship would not be a personality fit, so you are lucky to learn this early on.
– Cadbury