What should I ask in an interview?

The answers you find here are intended to serve as suggested best practices for domestic employment, and have been crafted by Hand in Hand with the National Domestic Workers Alliance. They are designed to help you take steps toward creating a mutually beneficial domestic employment relationship—and help set a framework for conversations with the domestic worker(s) you employ. Please understand that these suggested best practices may differ based on the particular domestic employment relationship and that these possible best practices do not constitute legal advice.

Before you schedule an interview with a potential candidate, here are two useful pre-interview questions: Would the commute to my home be manageable for you? Are you allergic to pets or have difficulty with a lot of stairs [or any other unique feature of your house or apartment building]? These are important factors in determining whether an interview would be worthwhile for both of you.

It is important to cover several areas in the interview process:

  • Get to know each other a little bit. The interviewee might soon be working in the intimate setting of your home, learning about all the joys and stresses of your life, so it can be great to take some time to learn about her, to ask about her family, neighborhood, or community and how she came to work in this field. Undoubtedly, she is juggling multiple roles and caretaking responsibilities, just as you are. Because the domestic workplace is unique it can be very helpful for each of you to share this broader picture of your lives.
  • Provide background: Share the outline of the job you’re offering and ask what’s different and similar about it compared to any previous care/attendant jobs. You can ask her to give you an overview of her work history, relevant experience, and anything else she’d like to share about her background.
  • Ask for examples of challenges in her past work, and how she addressed those challenges.
  • Give her a few scenario-based questions, i.e. What would you do if my child fell and bumped his head?  My mother is very independent and likes to do things herself but with some physical activities, we are worried she will fall or hurt herself. How might you approach this situation?
  • If you are hiring for a childcare or home attendant for someone other than you, introduce the candidate to the family member who she’ll be working most closely with. It’s good for all of you to spend some together, so that everyone can assess the interpersonal dynamics and try to assess whether it will be a good fit.
  • Troubleshoot. Some of us have embraced certain philosophies about parenting or personal care/support (you should spell these out in your work agreement); and some of these approaches can be difficult for others—family caregivers, as well as domestic workers–to implement. For example, if you are engaged in strict sleep training with your child, be clear about this with a job candidate and ask if she is comfortable letting your baby cry for long periods of time (some childcare providers are not). It’s best to recognize these differences early and explore ways they can be accommodated.
  • Give her a detailed job description to review and ask if she has any concerns or questions about it or any other issues. If you are seriously interested in the candidate, you could discuss the possibility of her working for a paid trial period after which you might make a permanent job offer. This point in the interview might also be the time when you introduce the possibility of a written work agreement—but it’s perfectly reasonable to wait to talk about this until you make a job offer.
  • Ask if the candidate has at least two to three recent former employers you can call for references.

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