Tips from the professionals…
Finding a new butler is an exciting time for any household. Whether it is the first time a butler will join the family, or you are looking to add or replace a butler within the existing household, the interviewing process is one to take your time for.
The selection process for other staff might be a bit more straightforward, but Butler candidates can be a bit different. Butlers come from all different types of backgrounds and have a wide variety of experience which can make it difficult to distinguish the right candidates from the unsuitable ones.
The summary below can offer some guidance when interviewing candidates for a butler role, and hopefully bring you to the right person to join the household!
So what are the 10 Most Important Interview Questions To Ask A Butler?
- What is the exact job role. At this early stage, it is extremely important to manage expectations, and be very clear about the tasks at hand. Butler roles can be all-encompassing, so make a list of the different tasks required and go through these during the interview.
- Housekeeping duties. Is housekeeping part of the Butler role? Then do ask on experience of this. A highly experienced and educated butler might never have worked in a household where housekeeping was part of the tasks. If you want the butler to supervise already existing housekeepers in the household, it is crucial the butler has had some for of experience and knowledge of cleaning, cleaning products and cleaning different types of surfaces like wood, marble, gold and silver.
- Different types of service. If a Butler is coming into the household, there is a good chance serving food and beverages will be an important part of his tasks. What types of Service does the Butler know – is he familiar with and knowledgeable of the differences between Silver Service, English Service, Russian Service, Butler Service, etc. Ask your butler, during the interview, to showcase some of these skills by for example setting the table and serving you food or drinks.
- Flexibility. Setting expectations for the working hours is important. Will the hours be different on a daily, or weekly basis? Ask the butler how flexible he can be with last minute changes. Does he have to travel far to the property – as this can be a crucial factor when starting early, or staying late. What is the candidate’s home situation – as if there are, for example, young children, the candidate might not be able to be as flexible with hours as required.
- Cooking If you would like the butler to be in charge of grocery shopping and cooking, experience is crucial here. The candidate must have knowledge of recipes, combining different types of ingredients and menu planning. Again, testing this will be worth it – ask the butler to propose a menu for an evening, or describe favourite dishes to cook, and which ingredients they would use. This will give you a better idea of the interest and skills – which can be more thoroughly tested during a trial.
- Multitasking Many butlers will fulfill many different tasks on a daily basis – from managing the household staff, serving the principals, driving around, to just name a few things. Being highly organised is a must – and how well can the candidate multitask? Can they name examples of situations of high pressure they have had to work in – and how did they deal with getting everything done?
- Working around people/children in the house Butlers can be the perfect example of ‘not knowing they are there until you need them’. Is this the type of butler you want, who can disappear into the background? Or perhaps you want a very strong, present and lively personality -all things to keep in mind when interviewing. Are they modest and help back, or very present and outspoken? Also, if there are children in the household, are they experienced working with children – and do they have an up to date, clear DBS?
- Driving/Car maintenance Again this will come down to experience. Is the butler a confident driver, and able to bring the butler level service to driving you around? Also can they be left in charge of the maintenance and upkeep of the household vehicle(s)?
- House management/managing people If the Butler is going to be in charge of managing household staff, organising schedules and payroll etc, a certain level of people and management skills is required. Have they been in charge of managing a team before? How do they feel people are best managed, disciplined and and happy working in their roles? Would he set up weekly/monthly staff meetings, and what other rules would he establish to manage the household?
- Clothing/Valet Even if the Butler is not in charge of housekeeping, there is a good chance you want him to be in charge of clothing, fulfilling the role of a valet, and organise all packing and unpacking of suitcases. There are certain particular skills and rules for packing and unpacking clothes – so ask your candidate on these, to test their knowledge. Also ask about different types of clothing – do they know how to handle luxurious and delicate materials, can they give examples of how to mend and clean these items? An experienced butler will know all these things.
At Polo and Tweed we have interviewed countless butlers, so if you have further specific questions or need help, feel free to reach out to one of our recruitment professionals.