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How to hire exceptional carers

April 12, 2021
Table of contents
Male carer with beard poses for a photo with an elderly man in a wheelchair who is holding a white phone in his outstretched hand and smiling.
How to find and hire exceptional carers: what to look for and the questions to ask

Many care providers have to contend with the problem of employee retention. If a carer decides to leave or retire, the residents may struggle to cope without their usual contact support. If a vacancy does arise, the care home manager must employ someone who will treat their clients with compassion, dignity and respect, especially as they may be:

  • Elderly
  • In a declining state of health
  • Terminally ill

So, how can you determine whether a potential candidate will be a suitable carer? How can you be sure that they will provide high-quality care to residents for many years to come? Here is some guidance to support you through the hiring process. 

Implement a values-based recruitment system

Values-based recruitment (VBR) can help you attract candidates whose personal values and attributes mirror your organisation’s. You can evaluate a person’s values using various methods, such as:

  • Pre-screening interviews
  • Role-play or responses to particular scenarios

When successfully implemented, VBR can reduce your company’s:

  • Recruitment costs
  • Staff turnover
  • Sickness and absenteeism rates

Employers and carers who share the same values will undoubtedly promote a positive work environment and job satisfaction.

What qualifications and specialities should a carer possess? 

While there are qualifications available for social work (like NVQs in England and SVQs in Scotland) plus legally recognised social work degrees and postgraduate degrees; formal qualifications aren't required to apply for a role in care, so long as you provide adequate training or follow an induction scheme.

In addition to academic skills, it is essential to carry out some background checks on your potential employees. Furthermore, you should also ascertain whether they have some experience in social work in settings such as:

  • Care homes
  • Independent living services
  • Special needs classes
  • Hospitals
  • Charities
  • Community groups
  • Caring for a family member

Your potential employee may be totally new to a care role and have no experience or qualifications. If you're prepared to take on a member of staff with no formal training or qualifications, you should focus on their soft skills.

When conducting interviews for your vacancy, make sure you find out whether the candidates possess the soft skills required by the role, including:

  • Compassion
  • Excellent communicator (oral and written)
  • Flexibility
  • Patience
  • Resilience

What incentives do you offer?

While most carers are dedicated to their work, you may still have to encourage your target candidates to apply for your vacant position. With this in mind, you should consider offering some or all of the following incentives:   

  • Pay is motivation even for conscientious carers. Besides the basic pay, your organisation should provide salary increments according to a candidate’s training, experience and skills. 
  • Offer shift patterns and working hours that will allow carers sufficient rest so they can recharge their batteries, both physically and mentally. 
  • Make sure you have enough staff for the number of residents. This will prevent carers from suffering fatigue, burnout or sickness.

Paying a decent wage and providing enough rest periods will enable you to attract carers who will be willing to work for you until they retire. 

Woman in a blue striped shirt and glasses reads to a man in a chair with a beige shirt and grey hair
How to identify the CVs that stand out

How to browse through a CV and identify the most important information

This article on CV writing tips will teach you how to analyse a candidate’s qualifications and suitability for the job.

A professional-looking CV will be a good indicator of a candidate’s eligibility. Your next focus should be on the carer’s skills and experiences. Their skills can be categorised as either ‘soft’ or ‘hard’. For example, problem-solving is a soft skill. Meanwhile, hard skills set carers apart and help you determine what they can actually do. Examples of hard skills include:

  •  Familiarity with healthcare-related software 
  •  Making referrals
  •  Patient assessments

The candidate may use their CV to highlight their soft and hard skills. They may also specify their abilities in the job history section, including their duties and responsibilities. 

Once you are satisfied by an applicant’s qualifications, skills and experience, you may wish to check their references to confirm what they have declared on their CV.     


What skills should you look out for during the first interview or meeting? 

The initial meeting will allow you to find out about the carer’s soft and hard skills, including their

  • Bedside manner
  • Medical skills and experience
  • Working style

You shouldn’t limit your questions to technical skills; make sure you ask about their behavioural qualities as well. It is imperative that you use the interview to find out the following information.

1.     What qualities does the carer possess?

Some of the qualities you should look for in a carer include:

  • A positive attitude
  • An ability to engage with clients
  • Flexibility
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Motivation
  • Reliability

Ask them to provide examples of when they could apply these personal traits in a work setting.

2.     Do they have any work experience?

It is essential to ask about a carer’s work background as you can gauge from their experiences whether they will be a perfect fit for the role. Naturally, you can include routine questions such as ‘Would you submit to a background check?’    

For instance, if the job requires the candidate to have a driver’s licence, you are well within your rights to ask them to produce their driving record.

The reason why you ask background questions is to ascertain an applicant’s:

  • Abilities
  • Skills
  • Values

It’s important to remember that this may be a person’s first foray into caring, so prior experience isn’t always necessary, provided you are willing to provide the training. The most important part is to ensure that their abilities and values match up with those you’ve set for your business.

3.     Do they possess the essential skills of an exceptional carer?

You should use the interview questions to determine whether the candidate has the skills required by the role. They should be able to demonstrate their:

  • Practical application of their medical knowledge
  • Communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Problem-solving skills 

4.     How do they treat challenging patients?

This type of question can help you assess a carer’s diplomatic skills. If they talk negatively about such experiences, you may have to look elsewhere for your ideal employee. 


5.     What would they do if their shift ended but their replacement had not yet arrived?

This question will help you determine whether the candidates have the traits you are looking for, such as:

  • Loyalty
  • Patience
  • Reliability

In addition, the carer will need to demonstrate how they used these skills to resolve this type of scenario.


Care homes are always in need of exceptional carers. As a registered manager, it is your duty to identify these individuals, employ them and then retain their services in the long run. The first thing you need to do is select candidates who share your organisation’s values. Check their CVs to determine their skill levels and use the initial interview to verify them. Finally, provide the candidates with sufficient incentives so that they apply for your vacancy in the first place and, if successful, remain with your care home until they retire. 

This post was guest-written by Matt Farrah, Co-Founder at and are where Nurses and Care Workers inspire and share stories about their jobs through articles and videos.

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