Our English-speaking housekeeper, Sevrine, started today. She is the third housekeeper that Brian has hired, but the first one whom Chip, our toy poodle, has interviewed. Brian fired the first one because he found her asleep in our bed. The second was only temporary, not very good, and a bit of a drama queen. We really hope the third one is the charm.
Those of you who know Chip well understand that he is a dog with a great capacity for love, but that he shows fear through aggression. He can go from a gentle, loving dog to a snarling, aggressive monster in a matter of minutes. You must be calm and not buy in to his drama. Come down to his level and relate to him, and you will diffuse his fear. It is advice that I should remember more often when handling him myself.
As a hiring manager, I have had my share of hiring challenges. It is always hard to judge a candidate’s on-the-job performance by the interview. Many people can talk their way through an interview. They say the right thing, the right way, but when you get them on the job, they fizzle. To mitigate that, I instituted an editing test for my new-hire editors. While not a fool-proof mechanism, it certainly separated the wheat from the chafe. When it came to hiring housekeepers, Chip was that test. If the woman was intimidated by Chip or seemed ambivalent, then she did not pass the Chip test.
We interviewed about six housekeepers. All had varying degrees of English knowledge and housekeeping experience. One said she knew English, but brought her daughter to translate. Another was very fluent, but very young. It came down to the two who fit best with the dogs and me, but I was leaning toward one. She had given me a letter of reference, so I emailed the reference. Believe it or not, he is a Houstonian, who had a cockapoo named Buster. I asked about her skill with dogs. He sent back a glowing letter that went beyond my simple, direct question.
So, Chip-supervised interview conducted, and references checked, we called her back for a second interview to discuss pay. Chip gelled with her again on the second interview.
Today, Chip started off his psycho poodle self, but, by the end of the day, Sevrine was on the floor playing with him. She also passed the Brian test tonight when Brian remarked that “The house looks much better. The level of quality with her cleaning is much higher.” That is high praise from Brian. We have agreed to a one-month trial. Hopefully, she will continue to meet expectations, and I will be able to start outsourcing Chip as a recruiter.