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2015 Job Seekers Guide-Interview-House Manager-PA (Part 4 OF A SERIES)

So you have refined your CV/ resume and made it through the agency screening. The next step is successfully navigating through the interview with the House/Estate Manager/PA.

As someone who has hired and trained countless Domestic Staff specializing in Estate and Household Management, Personal Assistants, Housekeepers, Chefs and Security personnel I can honestly state the top attributes I seek on behalf of any principal are not usually contained in the CV or resume. It is not the University or the degree one possesses. Although these attributes narrow the scope, it’s really if the candidate has the ability to critically think especially under pressure. Here are my top ten musts for a successful interview.

1. Be prepared to have your ability to think critically actively assessed. For me, to better discern this quality I often give puzzles during the interview process to assess how a potential candidate will react. I recall my own first domestic interview in where a distinguished Fortune 500 CEO sat across from me, and asked if I liked puzzles? I was naively thinking jigsaw puzzles when I replied, “Yes, puzzles are great.” Then he stated a riddle he wanted me to solve right then and there while he waited! It became the most challenging and rewarding interview I have ever had, as well as the most valuable. I discovered what he was truly attempting to ascertain was not the answer, but how I handled solving the query.

Over the years, I have relied on the same technique to decipher a strong candidate from a weak one based on how one responded to the query. I have been astonished how multiple candidates on paper appeared so strong yet literally crumbled over having to solve a similar task. What I was looking for was what they did with the concept of the unknown…did they use the tools they had at hand, did they document the known as well as the unknown variables? Did they evaluate the information and guidance they were given to discover the answer if they faltered or did they give up without ever even trying?

2. If at all possible do a face-to-face interview rather than a digital or call. This is your time to sell yourself, how you present yourself, your mannerisms and time management will all be reviewed.

3. Dress the part, you want them to focus on and remember you, the person not the outfit. Whatever you wear, wear it well. We may not like it, but first impressions speak volumes especially in domestic staffing. How you choose to present yourself is a strong indicator to how you will represent your principle. Outfits should fit. Not too small or too big, watch out for clothing that may be considered too tight across curves and items that are too short or too low cut. Ensure dress shirts fit correctly and don’t gap across buttons and all buttons are securely in place-none have gone missing.

When choosing what to wear, think conservative and professional from head to toe. Hair groomed and ideally up if lengthy, make up if worn should be minimal. Nails should be clean and shortly manicured if polish is worn, keep it subtle not flashy.

4. Time Management. Be on time for the interview, there are no real excuses that will reflect well. Leave plenty of time to be on time. Bring at least one copy of your clean CV / resume in a proper folder to keep it from getting wrinkled.

5. Remember to keep business as business. It is acceptable to answer questions about your personal life and or opinions if asked, but keep it brief and to the point. It’s not about you. It’s about how you will be of best service to the Principal and their families.

6. Eye contact and enunciate. Practice with a friend or in front of a mirror if you get nervous or have a hard time with this. You should be relaxed and natural in your responses while maintaining the ability to smile. Don’t speak too fast or use a vernacular unsuitable for the private setting you are attempting to be placed in.

7. Do your homework. What is there to learn about the Principal, the family or the needs of the Estate? Come prepared with intelligent well thought out questions about the job, the structure of the home and Chain of Command.

8. Accountability. Be prepared to speak about previous positions, what you liked and what you think you could have done differently should you have encountered a negative outcome in a previous position. What you learned from each position that grants you greater expertise for the one you are interviewing for.

9. Respect. It is rare you will not at least listen to gossip. However, nearly all will not hire someone who does. Be cautious about what you share from previous positions. You should protect the privacy of past employers whether or not a NDA was or is actively enforced.

10. Tremendous information is transferred during the interview. The subtleties of the job require someone who can handle complete independence and self- management. Domestic employment is one of the few jobs requiring complete isolation. A staff member is not often intended to integrate with the family, rather to blend invisibly into the background when the family is present. Most domestic jobs are not designed for much if any interpersonal communication. You should be comfortable maintaining relative isolation on the job and have the ability to self- manage your time and tasks and speak intelligently on how you will successfully perform in this capacity.

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Tejai Pinkham

Tejai Pinkham

Founder and CEO at Luxe Managers
With more than two decades of experience Tejai has provided vision and leadership in establishing and improving Private Estate Management and Staffing throughout the industry. Tejai is known for her impeccable integrity, timely execution, unwavering discretion and exquisite taste. She is respected for her outstanding follow through and project management as well as her quick wit, with the ability to think critically while maintaining remarkable professional style and grace under literal and figurative fire. Following a decade of living throughout Europe and South East Asia, Tejai has refined the process of delivering entirely personalized luxury management services to the most distinguished individuals and families around the globe. Tejai established her Firm, Luxe Managers to offer an extensive array of luxury lifestyle services, handling life’s details for HNW and UHNW clients internationally, behind the scenes with integrity and grace. Relying on exceptional communication Luxe Lifestyle Managers follow an educated understanding of the desires and requirements of the principal while working with detail oriented, multi-tasking mindsets that critically evaluate and maintain the ability to redirect priorities as changing circumstances dictate. Although these are imperative qualities in Lifestyle Managers, Luxe Managers believe at the end of the day a good sense of humor and a thick skin are often just as important.
Tejai Pinkham

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