PA Tips: How to Interview Subordinates & Contractors

Assistants need to be assertive when it comes to protecting their employer’s assets


There will always come a time when you are going to need to hire someone: a plumber, assistant, gardener, nanny, pool cleaner, or whatever.  This always must be handled delicately, especially if you need to interview them at your employer’s house.


While I was on assignment with the Royal Saudi Family, one of the new security agents took it upon himself to call someone to try and fix the very high-end stereo that was inside the house.  Ideally, they should have spoken with me but that didn’t happen.


Because the equipment was so specialized, and worth about $100,000, a very specific kind of technician should have been called.  I could have gone straight to my House Bible if the security agent asked me about it, but things took a turn for the worst.


The security agent did not ask the technician that he called the appropriate questions.  In short, the technician was not qualified to work on the equipment.


All of the components were pulled from the wall and damaged in the process, internally and externally.  Because the house was being rented, my boss lost his $50,000 deposit and was sued by the home owner. If you have to hire an independent contractor to complete a task, take the following steps (this list is by no means exhaustive and is only a guide):

  • Make sure they have the qualifications needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.
  • Ask them how long they have worked in their field and in their current position.
  • Make sure they have whatever licenses, certifications, bonding, and/or insurance is appropriate.  Actually call to verify the information that they gave you in true and accurate.  The insurance, for example, may have lapsed.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask them to explain in detail how they will be doing their work.  If you don’t understand any part of the process, get more information.  As long as you’re polite with them, they shouldn’t have any issue with your inquiry.  If they are short-tempered and don’t feel like explaining their work to you, then it’s probably a good sign that you should get someone else.
  • Get everything in writing!  No detail is too small.  Know how long the job will take and how much it will cost.  Make sure the contract has stipulations addressing the issue of what will happen if they run over on time or budget.


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