Hiring In-Home Help: Interview Questions

In-Home Care Services, Suffolk County, NY  According to AARP’s, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020” report, today more than 1 in 5 Americans are caregivers to a loved one.   Caregivers provide ongoing support and assistance to a family member in need which includes tasks such as, grocery shopping, meal preparation, transportation to doctor appointments, laundry, household chores, etc.  They also monitor and oversee complex medical care at home, coordinate a variety of in-home providers, and take on the role of health care advocate.

While many family caregivers report that their caregiving responsibilities are rewarding and give them a sense of purpose, they also report having a lot of physical, financial, and emotional stress.  AARP reports, “six in ten caregivers report working while caregiving and the majority have experienced at least one work-related impact”, due to caregiving (https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/ppi/2020/05/full-report-caregiving-in-the-united-states.doi.10.26419-2Fppi.00103.001.pdf).  One in four caregivers find it difficult to take care of their own health and about twenty three percent report that caregiving made their health worse.

Hiring in-home help becomes an inevitably for most family caregivers as the responsibilities for their loved one’s care grow over time.  A caregiver spends an average of 4.5 years helping an older loved one and many can be in that role for much longer as an increasing number of caregivers have been providing care for longer than 5 years.

There are a variety of in-home care services that help with caregiving tasks and each type can help with different aspects of a person’s care.

In-Home Companions – professional caregivers that help with household tasks and errands as well as help with getting dressed and bathing supervision (i.e. chores, meal prep, grocery shopping, transportation).  Check out Family First Home Companions’ services for more information.

Personal Care Aide/Home Health Aide – in-home care aides that assist with personal care such as sponge baths, toileting/hygiene care, and lifting and transferring a person who may be unable to get out of a sitting position on their own.  Visit Aging Care to search for agencies.

In-Home Nurses – a visiting nurse will make home visits to check a person’s vitals, review medications, provide wound care, and other nursing tasks.  These services are ideal for a person with one or multiple chronic conditions that require ongoing monitoring.  A local resource for a visiting nurse service in Long Island is Visiting Nurse Service of Suffolk.

In-Home Counselors/Therapists – an in-home therapist provides the same in-office therapeutic services but in the home setting.  These services are offered from a variety of professionals from social workers to art therapists.  Check out our resources page for more information.

Daily Money Managers – a daily money manager will come to the home to help a person sort out their finances, pay bills, and oversee their income and expenses.  Visit https://secure.aadmm.com/ to find a local daily money manager near you.  One company in Long Island is LK Daily Money Management.

Patient Advocates – a patient advocate will oversee a person’s health care and medical needs.  He or she will also coordinate services, assist with health insurance claims, and accompany a person to a doctor appointment or be present at the hospital if a person is hospitalized.  A local resource in Long Island for a patient advocate is Care Answered.

If you are ready to hire a caregiver to help your loved one at home, the first place to start is with an interview.  Interviewing caregivers will require some dedication of time and careful analysis to review and evaluate the candidates.  If this is your first time interviewing a caregiver, below are interview questions to include in the process along with helpful tips to ensure you get all the information you need to make the best hiring decision for your loved one.

At Family First Home Companions, we always start our caregiver interviews with an explanation of the job, work duties, and background information about the company.  Thereafter, it’s all about the candidate and learning about his/her background.  One key tip for interviewing a caregiver is the 80/20 rule.  You want the caregiver to be speaking 80 percent of the time and the interviewer to speak 20 percent of the time to be able to gather enough information to learn about the caregiver.

Interview Questions:

  1. Tell me about yourself. This is clearly more of a directive than a question, but the goal is to get the person to open up about who they are and what’s important to them.
  2. What interested you about our position?
  3. How did you get started in working as a caregiver? What schools or training have you had?
  4. When was your last position working as a caregiver?
  5. Take me through a typical day, start to finish, at your last position.
  6. What did you like the most and least about the position?
  7. What types of medical conditions are you most familiar with?
  8. What is one thing you are really good at it when it comes to taking care of a person?
  9. We all have something we are not very good at. What is one thing that you feel is your weakness?
  10. How flexible are you with the schedule? If we needed you to arrive earlier or stay later, would you be able to accommodate?
  11. Being reliable and committed to the position is so important to us. What is an example of how you were reliable and committed at your last position?

Helpful Tips for Interviewing for In-Home Help:

  1. Pay close attention to signs of work ethics. Was the person on-time for the interview, did the person look at his/her cell phone while with you, did he/she provide work references, and did the person speak negatively about previous jobs?
  2. Watch body language. Did the person maintain eye contact, did he/she fidget during the questions or appear uncomfortable with the interview, did the person maintain attentive posture or was he/she turned away or sitting back in the seat?
  3. Verify employment references. This does not only mean calling and asking if the person worked for the past employer.  Make sure to find out what the person’s role or title was, ask the reference what his/her role or title was, and test the reference to be sure it’s valid by asking for dates of employment and job duties.  You would be surprised at how often work references turn out to be phony.

If all else fails, call an agency that has done the screening and hiring for you.  An agency that does all the proper screening and training steps will recommend qualified candidates that will do a good job and provide you with the quality care you need.