How to conduct interviews that will get you the right care and support worker for your family

Are you currently interviewing care or support workers for a loved one or for yourself? We pin a lot of hopes on these people. We hope they will be dependable, reliable and trustworthy. We would love them to be organized, domesticated and take initiative and most important of all we wish they will be able to form a special bond with the person needing care.

Interviews are funny things, some people thrive in them and others don’t perform at all well. Some of the best care workers I have met haven’t come across well in interviews, they can be shy or nervous, aren’t good about talking about their strengths. This leaves the interviewee in a bit of a quandary. How do you gauge if a care worker is right for your family if they don’t come across well in an interview?

My friend Sarah told me her experience of hiring a nanny for her baby. “The interview was at dinner time and the care worker walked through the door. At first I didn’t like her at all, she was giving me one word answers and wouldn’t look me in the eye. I was about to cut the interview short when I had to leave the room for a moment to attend to my older son. The baby started crying in the highchair and Penny the care worker went over to her, started singing to her and feeding her. My daughter loved her! She then helped me to clean the kitchen without asking and helped me give the kids a bath. She started the next day and has been with us for 3 years! It turned out she was just very nervous and shy and wasn’t in her culture to boast about her achievements or qualifications. Had I solely relied on her performance in the Q&A part of the interview I would never have hired her.”

Here are some tips we for interviews:

  1. Create an informal setting

    Finding in-home care workers is a very different recruitment scenario to hiring office staff. Although a level of professionalism should always be maintained it is important to remember that you are finding someone who will become an important part of your family. The best place to conduct the interview is in the home where the care will take place, offer a cup of tea and make the person feel at home, after all they will be working in the home.

  2. Ask the right questions

    The question you ask is very important. Asking open ended questions like “what do you like most about being a care worker?” as opposed to “do you like being a care worker” gives more of an opportunity to find out about the care worker. We have devised a list of interview questions which can be downloaded from this page.

  3. Make sure the person being cared for is in the interview for some or all of it

    A great way to see if there will be a rapport between the care and support worker is to watch them interact. Make sure the person being cared for is in the interview and perhaps leave the two of them alone for a few minutes and observe them in action.

  4. Ask the care or support worker to come back for a trial

    After the interview we recommend inviting the care worker back for a trial where they will be doing the tasks required of them in the role, e.g. personal care, or helping around the house. You should be around to observe but also give them some time alone with the person requiring care to find their feet and not be too overwhelmed by being watched. Please remember that a trial should always be paid.