Yet, we all know what a stressful situation this can be. Will you say the right thing? Will you look appropriate? Will the interviewer like you and be impressed with your qualifications? Will you trip over your own two feet walking in the door?

Take a deep breath, remind yourself of your career success to date and appreciate the fact that you are a talented Butler, Personal Assistant or whatever. The interview just doesn't go one way. Although the interviewer is evaluating you and your credentials to join his/her family, you are also interviewing to determine if you like the employer and feel as though it would be a "good fit." All too often job search candidates lose sight of the fact that they are as much the interviewer as the interviewee.


There are three critical ground rules for job interviews. You must:

  • Respond to the objectives and needs of both you and your interviewer. Not one or the other.
  • Listen intently to the interviewer.
  • Retain control throughout the interview.

Job interviews can be a trap. Your objective is to get a job; the interviewer's objective is solve a problem (namely, find a qualified candidate). Immediately, there is a complete diversity of objectives. You must transition yourself across that boundary and demonstrate to the interviewer that you understand and can solve their problem. In order to achieve this objective, you must not only tell your interviewer your qualifications, but outline how they directly relate to the family at hand and the specific needs of this family.

Don’t say: 
"I stayed with the Johnson family for 8 years."

Do say:
"I understand that you need to find a Butler that is long-term oriented. I am such a person. As you know, I have worked for few families and always for longer periods of time. From what you tell me I’m sure this position would indeed be a long-term position for me."

In each and every interview situation, there are common questions that will be asked. Don’t wait until the interview to decide your response. Be prepared and think through your answers before you arrive. Some of these questions almost always include: 

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your salary expectations?
  • How did you like your last job and why did you leave?
  • How did you get along with your former boss and co-workers?
  • If you had the last 10 years of your life to live over again, what would you do differently?
  • What are your career goals for the next 5 years? The next 10 years?
  • What are some of your strengths? Some of your weaknesses?
  • Aren't you a little young (old) for this position?
  • What is your personal life situation?
  • If we make an offer, how long do you plan to stay with us?
  • How do you work with others? Are you a leader ... a follower?
  • What is your ideal position and career path?
  • Is there anything you would like to say to close the interview?

Listening, confidence and quality of presentation are the keys to successful interviewing.


The Interview is over, you have thanked the interviewer for his/her time and for all the information. You've asked questions and they were answered. You have contact information, shaken hands and now you're out of the residence on your way home. You need to remember the questions that were asked of you and most importantly, you need to remember the answers. Why? In case you get called in for a second or third interview. After the interview, you should recap highlights, use the attached worksheet as your guide:

Name of the family______________
Interviewed with:______________
Through what source did you get this interview?_____
How long did the interview last?____________
Did it start on time?_______________
Position interviewed for:______________
Salary Range:______________
What is my impression of this family?______________
What is my impression of this position:___________
What did I do right?________________
What did I do wrong?_______________
What would I do differently?___________
Am I still interested in the job?____________
Sent thank you letter on ________


Educational Questions

It is not the individual who "knows it all" that gets the best job offers, but it is the person who is always seeking more knowledge and learning through life's experiences. These are the job applicants who can grow with their families and be dynamic in their positions.

Educational questions have always been a part of the interviewing process. In today's market, these questions are directed more so for those individuals who are starting their careers. In the case of an older individual interviewing for a job, their experience will be the number one factor, rather than their education.

These questions ask "How professionally skilled and developed are you?"... "How do you learn?"... "What is important to you?"

Here are some of the questions that may be asked.

How relevant has your education been in preparing you for your profession?- My education has taught me how to think, analyze, solve problems and get answers. It has taught me how to be independent, providing me with confidence about my knowledge and abilities to make correct decisions.

How do you keep informed professionally? I like to pursue sources of information, online services such as the "The International Guild of Professional Butlers," newspapers, professional newsletters, professional friends and associates. Media shows such as "Dateline", "20-20", etc.

Write down your answers to the following questions and practice answering them with a friend: 

  • What is the most recent skill you have learned?
  • What have you learned from the jobs you have held?
  • What do you know about our family?
  • What trends do you see taking place today?

Experience Questions

Questions relating to "Experience" will be the most important questions asked. These questions will force you to review and recall certain events that occurred in your professional life. The Interviewer will ultimately make a decision to hire/or not to hire based on your answers. To retain the interest of the interviewer, you must present a positive image of yourself. Questions about your experience will give you a great opportunity to shine.

To demonstrate the following characteristics when you are responding to questions about "experience".

Show the interviewer that you are taking the interview process seriously.

You're excited by the work and look forward to the future.

Be convincing when you speak, discuss work in an interesting and intelligent manner.

The main topic should center around your professional experience.

Subject Matter:
Talk about what you are an expert in.

Job Performance Sample Questions Answers:

What can you tell me about your job performance?

I have a long history of above average performance. My history of frequent promotions is good evidence that both my current and former employers were well satisfied with my work.

What accomplishment would you say best demonstrated success for your employer?

Although I feel that my best achievements are still ahead of me, I am proud of my involvement in the "Party of the year" in New York city, last year. I was part of a team that worked hard to make this event such a huge success.

Write down your answers to the following questions, role play back and forth with a friend to practice and prepare for the interview: 

  • Describe your last job?
  • Tell me about your last boss? (Careful with the answer!)
  • Let me describe the work group you would be joining if we asked you to fill the position. How would you see your role as a member of our team?
  • Have you ever had to fire someone? Describe the circumstances and how you handled the situation.
  • What do you look for when you hire someone?

Open & Closed Ended Questions:

What is an Open-Ended Question?

These type of questions allow you to answer in any way you choose. however, these type of questions cannot be answered with a "YES" or a "NO". Respondents can choose what direction to take when answering the question.

Example of Open-Ended Question: "Why did you leave your last job?"
Note: You will require an explanation to answer this question. Therefore open-ended questions are more exploratory.

What is a Close-Ended Question?
These type of questions require either a "YES" or a "NO" answer. Close-ended questions are asked in a rapid manner to obtain certain facts that can be answered with a yes or no.

Example of a Close-Ended Question: "Do you work overtime in your present job?"

The Interviewer can also ask you a close-ended question, and depending on how you answer it, this can turn into an open-ended question. Example: "Did you mind working overtime on your last job?"

Normally, you would answer "YES" or a "NO", however, if you answer "Actually, sometimes it really bothered me", you can be sure that the interviewer's next question will be an open-ended one such as: "Why did it bother you?"

Beware of Follow-Up Questions

Suppose earlier in the interview, you are asked the following question:

 "Have you worked with "Microsoft Word" ? (Close-ended question) You Reply: "Yes"

(Maybe you said yes, thinking that you could run home and brush up on this program at home, because you have a computer.) But a few minutes later, the Interviewer says to you, "I'm having a problem with my Word program, do you think you can have a look at it?"

These type of follow-up questions are asked purposely to see if you can remember what you answered previously and if it was the truth.

Behavior Questions

Before we get into "Behavior Questions", let's find out whether your qualities identify you as a "Manager" or as a "Leader".

If you agree with Questions "A", you have MANAGEMENT qualities. If you agree with Questions "B", you have LEADERSHIP qualities.

A. Do you work within your boundaries?
B. Do you expand boundaries?

A. Do you control resources?
B. Do you influence others?

A. Are you making plans to reach goals?
B. Are you working to create a future?

A. Are you responsible for how work is done?
B. Do you commit to get the work done at any cost?

A. Are you ruled by reason or logic supported by intuition?
B. Are you influenced by intuition and feelings supported by reason?

A. Do you make decisions only after all relevant information is available?
B. Do you make a decision once you decide you have enough information?

What kind of a manager do you think you are?

Before you answer this question, stop and think about characteristics that make a good manager: Planning, Organizing, Directing and Controlling.

Example Answer: "I am a hands on manager who realizes the importance of ongoing communication in building a great team."

Answer the following questions on your own: 

  • How far do you see yourself advancing with our family?
  • Describe a situation from your last job that proves you are a persistent person?
  • How do you interact with different types of management levels?
  • Describe a situation where you needed to get another employee's viewpoint before you could get the job done?


It is important that applicants ask questions during the interview. If you don't ask any questions, this gives the interviewer the impression that you are not interested. The hard part about asking questions is what questions to ask, how to ask it, and when to ask it.

Make a list of information that you need to know about the family and the position you will be applying for. Include information you will need to discuss the position intelligently.

Put your questions in a priority format.

Review the list before your interview so everything is clear and fresh in your mind.

Separate your questions. General questions should be directed to the Head Butler or PA while specific details about the position and day to day operation should be addressed to the family.

Note: You should not ask questions about salary or benefits unless a job offer is made, or the interview volunteers to give you this information.

Questions you could ask
"How many employees do you have?"

"Can I speak with the staff and perhaps get a tour of the residence?"

"Can I telephone you in ___to inquire about your decision?"

"How soon will you want an employee in place?"

Essential to any successful job interview are the following characteristics:

Substitute strengths for weaknesses. Don't tell your interview you have no experience with a specific accounting software program. Instead, tell them that your experience with accounting software includes Quicken which you were easily able to learn and attained quick proficiency. Transition the negative into a positive.

Attitude and demeanor matter as much as your response to questions. Be professional and focused, yet friendly and personable. Remember, you need to fit into the family. No one wants to hire an individual with no personality, no matter the qualifications.

Be brief, but thorough in your communication style. Long-winded, endless responses to questions are not the answer. You'll lose the interest of the interviewer and can get "lost" in your response.

Be enthusiastic. People love to hire individuals excited about their family, the children, the dogs, the yacht etc. Be professional, yet demonstrate your interest and energy.

Remember, the only purpose of the first job interview is to get the second interview.

That's it!. Guidelines for the first interview include:

Punctuality. Don’t arrive on time, arrive early. No matter how sympathetic your interviewer may be to the fact that there was an accident on the highway, it is virtually impossible to overcome a negative first impression.

Dress and presentation. Dress conservatively - you can’t lose. You can establish your uniqueness through conversation, demeanor and your response to interview questions.

Listen. Don't just hear what your interviewer is saying, listen to what they are saying. Then, when the time arrives to answer questions, you'll understand the specific needs and objectives of the interviewer and the family. As such, you can frame your answers to directly respond to identified needs.

Remember, it'ss at the second (and subsequent!) interviews that you will attempt to "close" the sale. It’s at that time that questions will be more specific, you will perhaps have the opportunity to speak with other members of the family, and you will be given the chance to ask your questions. Let the interview process proceed at the normal pace. Don't rush it along. Being overly anxious does not work.

 Stress Questions

In the past, Stress Questions were asked of potential employees in law enforcement agencies, or Government jobs, etc. However, most recently many organizations (and families) have come to the conclusion that "Stress Questions" are an effective technique to evaluate candidates.

What Makes us Stressful?

The fact that we are going through an interviewwith an interviewer who is inexperienced, antagonistic, unprepared or bored.

The Interviewer is trying to ask you "Gotcha" questions, so be prepared and know your material. Do not become intimidated, control your disclosures. If you are asked to continue the interview at a lunch meeting, recognize that you are there to get a job, and not to eat, but if you must, then order simple foods. Be adaptable, offer clear, concise answers. Try to read the interviewer's body language to see if you are getting your answers across.

Examples of Stress Questions;

How do you think this interview is going?

If our roles were reversed, what questions would you ask?

Where does your boss think you are right now?

Your resume suggests that you may be over experienced (or under experienced) for this position, what do you think?

Illegal Questions

May be asked by an interviewer who may be naive about certain Federal Laws (USA).

Many interviewers are not familiar with a U.S. Federal law that forbids employers from discriminating against any person on the basis of sex, age, race, religion, or national origin, and most recently Americans with disabilities.

Any questions regarding your characteristics protected under the law, are not required to be answered.

Illegal: Does your religion permit you to work on Saturdays?
Legal: This job requires you to work 1 Saturday per month, do you have a problem with this?

You cannot be asked about your ancestry, or your birthplace, but the interviewer may ask:
Legal: Are you a US Citizen or a resident alien with the right to work in the United States?

Illegal: How old are you?
Legal: Are you over 18 years of age?

You cannot be asked about your native language, the language you speak at home, or how you acquired to read or write or speak a foreign language.

Illegal: Do you speak Spanish at home?
Legal: What languages are you fluent in?

Interviewers cannot ask you about your maiden name, or if you've changed your name, your marital status, the number of children you have or dependents, or if you are married, they are not permitted to ask you what your spouse does.

Illegal: Do you want to be addressed as Mrs., Ms. or Miss?
Legal: How would you like to be addressed?