September 2, 2021

Carer interview questions: what should you ask?

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Interviewing carers? Here are some good examples of questions to ask.

Carer interviews are one of the most important stages of the recruitment process as they allow you to really get a feel for whether a candidate is a good fit for your home care agency. 

If you’re following a values-based recruitment strategy, the interview structure and questions should focus on the values and behaviours of the candidates (if you’re not yet familiar with values-based recruitment, read this first).

Let’s take a closer look at how to structure your interviews and ask the right carer interview questions, with some examples that you can adapt for your own interview process.

Assessment centres

A popular strategy for conducting values-based interviews is through an assessment centre. This approach involves bringing together several candidates to participate in group activities and discussions. Some home care agencies even invite willing clients to an assessment day to involve them in the selection process. 

An assessment centre also gives you the chance to interview every candidate individually to get to know more about them as a person. 

Interview structure

To help you create an interview structure, have a copy of your home care agency’s core values in front of you. List each value in turn, and think of two or three questions that relate to each one. 

When it comes to planning the questions, remember to keep values at the forefront. Practical skills and experience are still important, but carer interview questions that focus on values and behaviour can tell you so much more about a candidate and ultimately lead to a more suitable hire.

How to ask the right values-based carer interview questions

An interview that focuses on values tends to be more in-depth and personalised than other more standardised interview formats. You are aiming to draw out information to understand the values and behaviours of each candidate rather than tick off a checklist of ‘correct’ answers.

In the aim of fairness, it’s good to start every interview with the same set of questions for each candidate. However, the nature of values-based carer interview questions means that every interview will evolve differently, as each candidate relays their own stories and experiences. You can read more about Values-based Recruitment, here.

Ask open-ended questions

The best questions to assess values and behaviours invite the candidate to explain and elaborate on a subject. 

Here’s an example: 

“Tell me about a difficult situation you’ve encountered at work and how you handled it.” 

This type of open question gives the carer room to answer in any way they wish, and you can pick up lots of information from their answer. What do they consider to be a difficult situation? Did they react in a way that aligns with your values? Do they show annoyance or anger when talking about the situation? Do they blame or criticise others? Did they learn and grow from the experience?

Pose a moral dilemma

We can learn a lot about a person’s values when they are faced with a moral dilemma. Asking how a candidate would respond to a hypothetical scenario with no clear right or wrong answer can be very telling. 

A moral dilemma question can also be useful for candidates who don’t have experience in social care, as they will almost certainly have a personal experience they can draw upon.

Ask a follow-up question

If you’d like a candidate to give a more in-depth answer, you can use a follow-up question to draw out further information. Follow-up questions can be especially useful if you suspect that there may be more to the story or if there are elements of their answer that concern you.

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Don't be afraid to ask your candidate to elaborate. Some good example questions to ask carers are below.

Examples of carer interview questions

  • Why do you want to be a carer?

  • What would you do if you observed a colleague treating a client in a way that you felt was wrong?

  • What would you do if a client voiced their dislike of one of your colleagues?

  • Can you explain how your background and experiences might influence the way you deliver care to clients?

  • You might need to undertake training as part of your role. How do you feel about that?

  • Tell us about a time a colleague came to you for help.

  • Tell us about a time when you found it difficult to work with a particular client.

Follow up questions

  • What did you learn from that experience?

  • Would you do anything differently next time?

  • Can you tell me a bit more?

  • Can you give an example?

  • How did you feel about that?

To help home care agencies plan an effective recruitment strategy, we’ve created an eBook: Fast track recruitment: How to recruit in a crisis. It walks you through the whole recruitment process, from identifying your needs to onboarding new starters. Download it here.

At Birdie, we want to help care agencies succeed in all areas of their business. In a recent survey we undertook, over 80% of those who responded told us that their greatest challenge as a home care agency was recruiting staff. We know that recruitment can be difficult so we've done the legwork for you. We've spoken with experts, compiled research and created useful articles, eBooks and webinars to help you. Explore this page to find the right resources to help you - from writing your job advert to implementing an onboarding process, we've got it covered. Explore our other content below:

How to advertise your care vacancy to attract the best carers

How to hire exceptional carers

Do you need a care recruitment agency?

10 care industry recruitment challenges and how to solve them

Carer Interview Questions: What Should You Ask?

Values-Based Recruitment Framework

Your Homecare Staff Retention Plan

Social Care Recruitment - 5 Tips For Success

Hired: Your complete guide to recruiting care staff

Practical advice for recruiting carers during the crisis

Even on a good day, being a carer has its challenges. To make life easier for your team, make sure you use the right digital tools to streamline their day and ease their workload. Adopting digital processes, including record-keeping and eMAR, can eliminate the need for paper trails and help free up the carer’s time so they can deliver the outstanding care your clients deserve. Using digital systems in this way shows candidates that you value their time and do all you can to reduce workload where possible. Find out more about the digital tools that can help your business here.

CTA: Discover more recruitment advice and tips

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