Who would work well in your home? Someone quiet, someone fun and outgoing, someone invisible? Think about when you go to a restaurant. Do you want the loudmouth waiter who practically sits in your booth or François at a French restaurant who delivers a clean fork when you’re not looking? When you’re considering adding staff to your home, it’s important to know what you’re looking for. And a crucial element is chemistry. The chemistry that I refer to is akin to the right match in a dating scenario. It’s an emotional thing, because it means hiring somebody to work ─ and sometimes live ─ in your home with your family. Therefore, it’s important that both sides work well together.

You start with a clear job description with clearly defined expectations. No matter who you hire, employees need to know your expectations of them in order to set their bearings from day one. You expect them to: be on time, not be present when they are in the room, not talk on their cell phone during working hours. Then there are those gray areas like how to communicate, how to discipline children, or how to treat others on staff.

Other questions to keep in mind include: Who will the employee report to and who will be working closest with this employee? What is his or her character like? What characteristics do they have in common or need to have in common? Does this person need to have a compliant attitude? Does this person need to speak a certain way? Chemistry is hard to predict and is not always evident. Consequently, the person in charge or the person who makes the household decisions needs to feel comfortable with any new employee that is hired. The chemistry between employees in the home is very important as well. Think about the characteristics of those people that you already have working in your home. Will they all work well together, will they be jealous, will they become territorial? It’s important to match new employees well with existing staff and your immediate family.

I personally set time aside to meet with each candidate and gather as much information as I can to best understand who they are, what they like, and what they dislike. These one-on-one conversations I have with candidates provide me with a window into their personalities and a better understanding of who they would work best with. My goal is not to inundate my clients with 10 candidates for each position that they need filled. Instead, I hand pick three candidates with the required skills ─ but with varied personalities ─ to see which candidate the client gravitates toward most. There are tools online that can also help you in the selection process: from a simple online test to determine personality traits to more extreme, expensive testing that can identify exactly who this person is and where they would work best.

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