2 dialogue bubbles indicating a conversation What should I ask in an interview?

Prepare Before the Interview

Before you schedule an interview with a candidate, make sure you’ve shared any details about the job that are very important to you, or are potential deal breakers for the person you may hire. You may also want to ask some pre-interview questions to screen out any candidates that you know won’t be a good fit. These can help you both decide whether an interview would be worthwhile. 

Some information you should consider sharing about your home or family:

  • the presence of pets such as dogs;
  • whether you want to pay on the books (file taxes);
  • any allergies you have or religious practices you observe;
  • for childcare, the number of children you have;
  • if they will be cleaning, the importance of non-toxic cleaning products;
  • the range of pay you’re willing to pay and whether you can offer paid time off; and
  • what your COVID/safety procedures are. 

Some questions you should consider asking:

  • Would the commute to my home be manageable for you? (This is especially important if you need someone to be punctual.)
  • For childcare and homecare, would you feel comfortable going through a background check/getting fingerprinted?  
  • For childcare and homecare, do you have first aid and CPR training? If not, would you be willing to get trained if we covered the cost of the training?
  • For homecare, would you be able to lift XX lbs? Do you have experience or are you willing to learn how to administer medication? (Are there other technical skills that you need them to master to fulfill their job duties? If so, list them out.) 

In the Interview Process

  1. Get to know each other. The interviewee might soon be working in your private home, learning about all the joys and stresses of your life, so take some time to learn about them. Ask about their family, neighborhood, or community and how they came to work in this field. Undoubtedly, candidates are juggling multiple roles and caretaking responsibilities, just as you are. Share the broader picture of your lives with one another.
  2. Provide background. Describe the job you’re offering and ask what’s different and similar about it compared to any previous care/attendant jobs they’ve had. Ask the interviewee for an overview of their work history, relevant experience, and anything else they’d like to share about their background. Understand why they do the work they do and what they love about it.
  3. Ask for stories. Look for examples of challenges in their past work, and how they addressed those challenges. Give a few scenario-based questions, like, “What would you do if my child fell and bumped his head?” or “My mother is very independent and likes to do things herself. However with some physical activities, we are worried she will fall or hurt herself. How might you approach this situation?”
  4. Introduce the important people. If you are hiring a childcare provider or a home attendant for someone other than you, introduce the candidate to the family member who they’ll be working most closely with. It’s ideal for all of you to spend some together, so that everyone can assess whether it will be a good fit.  Finding the right nanny or homecare provider is a little like dating! There needs to be good chemistry between the caregiver and the person receiving the care.
  5. Have the details ready. Provide a detailed job description to review and ask if the candidate has any concerns or questions. If you are seriously interested in the candidate, you could discuss the possibility of them working for a paid probationary period, after which you might make a permanent offer. This point in the interview might also be the time when you introduce the possibility of a written work agreement—but it’s also reasonable to wait to talk about this until you make a job offer.
  6. Troubleshoot. Many of us have specific philosophies about parenting or personal care/support, and some of these approaches can be unfamiliar or challenging 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 they are 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. When you make a job offer these things should also be clearly outlined in a work agreement.
  7. Request references. Ask the candidate for the contact information of at least two former domestic employers you can call for references.  If they don’t have domestic employer references, then request the contact information for other employers they’ve had or people in their lives that can vouch for their work ethic, such as former teachers, coaches, or mentors.
  8. Decide if a background check is appropriate or necessary. There are many services that offer background checks for a person’s criminal, legal, driving or work history. While these can provide an employer with a sense of security, they don’t provide a full picture of a person. Also, because often these involve searching a database run by a government agency, it can be scary for an undocumented worker or a worker in a mixed-immigration status family to go through the background check.  For this reason, Hand in Hand recommends finding alternatives to background checks if your top applicant doesn’t feel comfortable with the check. We recommend checking the references of at least two former domestic employers as well as spending time with the prospective employee on the job for the first week or two of employment.