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4 Types of Questions to Ask When Hiring a Caregiver

#Employee #background checks #new hire #hiring #employment verification process
by Ali Gordon

Hiring a caregiver can be an intensive process. This is true because of how much a caregiver can positively--or negatively--impact a person or family if the fit isn’t well aligned. It’s incredibly important to ensure the right caregiver is in the right role. Many kinds of caregivers exist, including for:

  • In-home elder care
  • In-home child and infant care
  • In-home health care
  • Adult day care
  • Nursery care
  • Nanny share systems
  • Assisted living care
  • Nursing homes
  • Companion care
  • Pet care
  • Household management 

Even though caregiving roles span a broad range, there are still common types of questions that an agency or family employer can ask. These are four types of questions you should ask when hiring a caregiver.

1. Licensure and Formal Qualifications Questions

A baseline assessment of employment qualifications can give you confidence that a caregiver will be a meaningful addition to your environment, whether for a family or in a more formal facility. Make sure you ask questions about licenses, occupational training, certifications, and other formal education or training that benefit the role. These may be required for the role, or they may simply supplement the role in a needed way. Some examples of formal qualifications to ask about include:

  • Social work or therapy licenses
  • Education background
  • Financial or management certifications
  • First aid and CPR training
  • Drivers licenses
  • Other Occupational licenses and training 
  • Technical or technological skills

A background check that includes employment and education verification can help confirm these kinds of questions and length of experience within a given industry, as well.

2. Questions about Substance Use and Criminal History

An individual caring for your home or loved ones will bring a valuable presence to your environment, and in some cases it can be useful to ask about personal habits that can impact that environment. This includes things like smoking or use of substances that could impact work performance or client comfort. Though not necessarily illegal or a permanent red flag, these kinds of behaviors could indicate better or worse fit for certain kinds of care.

In other cases, backgrounds with reckless driving related to substance abuse could be reason not to pursue a candidate for a particular role. For example, if a candidate has a history that includes a DUI incident, this may not be a good fit for a nanny share that will be working with multiple children and transporting them to school and events. Similarly, understanding a candidate’s standing as relates to criminal background, sex offender registries, and abuse or neglect cases is also critical for caregiver hiring. 

Some of these questions may be uncomfortable, so it’s important to time them appropriately. For instance, some topics are best reviewed by recruiters very early in their profile development process, not when introducing a candidate to a prospective family. A background check is also a great way to avoid having to ask some questions overtly if it might create discomfort in a relationship with a new candidate. However, legal requirements can apply for when an employer is permitted to ask about criminal history. Be sure to speak with an employment lawyer or and conduct plenty of research to determine when you can request a background check.

3. Questions about Problem-Solving Abilities

Unlike some kinds of jobs, caregiving roles can present all kinds of unpredictable circumstances from day to day. Asking caregivers questions about their problem-solving strategies can help employers gain a sense of their abilities in these situations. These types of questions can provide insights into their management, solutions, and care styles:

  • How do you handle difficult clients or dangerous scenarios? Provide an example. 
  • What strategies do you use to care for multiple children or clients at the same time, when needed?
  • How do you handle critical feedback from a family or client?
  • When have you made a mistake or experienced a misunderstanding, and how have you handled it?
  • What is your approach to handling accessibility and neurodiversity needs or individuals experiencing dementia and mental health challenges?

4. Questions about Personality and Skills

Of course, even if formal qualifications, general background, and solutions skills all check out, a candidate still needs to be the right fit for a given company or client. This is where questions about personality type and skills that don’t necessarily come with credentials can be helpful. 

For instance, consider assigning applicants to conduct a personality assessment and outline for you the kinds of skills they bring to their role. Ask these kinds of questions to understand this part of a candidate’s background better:

  • What qualities make you a great caregiver for kids (or elderly folks, etc.)?
  • Which of your skills have proven most useful in your prior work in this field?
  • How do you build a relationship with a new family or individual for which you are providing care services?

Don’t forget that you can pair these types of questions--problem solving, personality, and skills--with personal reference checks and the right background screenings to give added confidence in a caregiver’s ability and fit for a role.


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