What Questions Should You Be Asking During a Caregiver Interview?

How to evaluate candidates to make the best caregiver hires for your agency.

Asking the right caregiver interview questions can help ensure a successful hiring and retention process.

Forming a team of capable, qualified caregivers is a vital part of building a successful home care agency. When evaluating job candidates, hard skills are often easy to assess: credentials can be fact-checked and licensures confirmed. But what about those soft skills and harder-to-measure qualities, like communication, ease under pressure, compassion, and confidence?

That’s where the interview comes in. So, what are the right caregiver interview questions to ask to evaluate a candidate’s qualifications?

Tips for interviewing caregiver candidates

Before we begin, let’s pause for a few reminders about how to conduct a successful job interview.

  • Avoid yes/no questions. Interview questions that solicit yes or no answers don’t propel the conversation. Be sure to press candidates for details by using the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why.
  • Don’t ask misleading or trick questions. Questions designed to “trick” or make the interviewee stumble are disrespectful and unproductive. Keep questions directly related to the job and its relevant skills.
  • Remember that answers don’t have to be perfect. A caregiver candidate’s answers don’t need to be perfect, but rather natural and sincere. After all, it’s better to be honest than misleading. Candidates may not possess everything on your caregiver wishlist, but experience can be gained and many skills developed over time.
  • Help your candidates. In a job interview, candidates are your allies, not your adversaries. Consider yourself free to help your candidates succeed in the hiring process. For example, if a candidate seems to wander through their answer, guide them back to the question at hand. If they get something wrong about the role or your agency, kindly correct them.
  • Look for culture add, not just culture fit. By looking for a candidate that simply “fits” with your current company culture or reminds you of your other employees (or yourself), it’s likely that you’ll end up with a homogenous workforce. Look instead for what candidates will add to your caregiver staff. Remember that differences are an asset.

7 caregiver interview questions to ask

1. What made you choose a career in caregiving?

Start with basic questions about what made the candidate choose a career in caregiving. Look for indications that they take the work seriously and have genuine respect for their clients. Look also for a real understanding of what the job requires, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

2. Why are you interested in working for this agency?

Ideally, your caregiver candidates have done their homework on your home care agency and can speak with confidence about why they want to work for your organization. However, keep in mind that this is where candidates may have the most questions, especially if your website doesn’t contain a lot of information about what it’s like to work with you.

3. Tell me about a time when a client was unhappy with your care.

Situational interview questions like this one can help you understand 1) how well a caregiver can reflect on their experience and skills 2) how willing they are to take responsibility for their mistakes, and 3) whether they can resolve tension and conflict.

For new caregivers with little or no experience, ask them to describe a similar situation, perhaps in school or at a previous job, in which a boss or colleague was unhappy with their work.

Situational interview questions are often best answered using the STAR method, or describing the situation, the task at hand, the action that caregiver took, and the result of that action. If your candidate isn’t familiar with this tool, share it with them.

4. Let’s say you have an elderly client who refuses to follow their diet unless you’re there with them. How do you handle this situation?

Another way to assess a potential caregiver’s skills is to present them with hypothetical scenarios and let them demonstrate their real-time problem-solving skills.

Use real examples from your own experience or that of other caregivers in your agency. Remember when evaluating their answer, that their response doesn’t need to match yours exactly—there are many ways to solve a problem.

5. Tell me about a client you really enjoyed working with. What made it such a successful relationship?

This is a great caregiver interview question because it can highlight the environments in which a candidate thrives. You may even be surprised to find that their answer involves overcoming a challenge, which can also tell you about their tenacity and resolve as a professional.

6. Describe your experience working with ___________.

If you specialize in particular services or have specific needs you’d like for a caregiver to fill, ask them to describe their related experience. For example, you might need caregivers who have experience working with diabetic clients or post-operative clients.

Remember that while experience is always valuable, so is adaptability and an eagerness to learn.

7. Let’s say you have an appointment with a client that runs over. This means you’ll be late for your next appointment. What do you do?

Every caregiver has found themself in a situation in which one appointment puts them behind and throws a wrench into their entire day. Asking how they handled this situation will tell you about their professionalism, problem-solving skills, and ability to think quickly.

Ready to start using these caregiver interview questions?

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