Safe Help In Your Home

Step Three: Interviewing Effectively

I want to hire in-home help
I provide in-home help
I work for an agency that places workers in clients' homes
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The Preliminary Phone Contact

Agency hire

Agencies interview both prospective employees and prospective clients. They’ll ask you about your education and experience, tell you a bit about the agency’s policies, services and clientele and set up an appointment for a face-to-face meeting. Let them know which documents you have already prepared and ask if there is anything else they would like you to bring to the interview. Look at the agency’s web page and see where you think you’d fit in. Also see if it brings up any questions you’d like to ask in the interview.

Get driving directions and instructions about parking. Show up on time. Bring your documentation, a pen and some extra paper to take notes. Dress conservatively—you are applying to work with elderly people who may be uncomfortable with what you consider stylish.

Private Hire

You will be introducing yourself to your prospective employer/client with this first phone call. During this phone interview it is helpful to:
• say what services you offer;
• get clear and specific information about how many hours and which hours are requested (15 hours a week, 2:00-5:00 each weekday afternoon, for example);
• what duties the job requires;
• the salary/hourly rate.
Let the prospective employer/client know which documents you have prepared and ask if there is any additional information you should bring to the interview.

Get driving directions and instructions about parking.

The Face-to-Face Interview

Bring copies of all your documentation. Leave extra time in case you get lost. Lateness will be a red flag for employers. Anybody can get lost going someplace for the first time, but candidates should also want to make a good impression. Promptness matters in this line of work—without it a vulnerable client might be left unattended.

Also have a mental (or written) list of important considerations that would affect possible placements: smoking (you smoke/can’t tolerate smoke), pets (you have them and the client has allergies to them/you have allergies and the client has pets), children (you want to bring your child to work with you on school holidays or your child has health issues that may require you to leave suddenly), salary (you have a non-negotiable base you won’t go below), or hours (you have other jobs or commitments so you can only work certain hours).

Agency hire

If an agency offers you a job, you will have to agree to follow the agency’s policies, procedures, service offerings, and pay scale. The agency will then send you on a face-to-face interview with a client requesting services. The purpose of that face-to-face meeting is to see if you and the client can stand each other and get on well enough for this to be a workable match. We’ve got guidelines and checklists for you in step 5 to help you create a clear and thorough list of tasks with your client.

Remember that you can also ask questions in the interview. You will be taking on great responsibility and working in isolation. You should feel supported by the agency, and you should be able to trust that the agency will provide supervision at regular intervals and advice in an emergency. Ask how they supervise and what sort of assistance is available if you phone in with a serious question/problem—including on weekends, holidays and evenings. Responsible agencies make support available at all times their employees are working. Think twice about working for an agency that does not support its staff adequately.

Private Hire

You must talk about both the specific tasks you will be asked to perform and the business relationship with employer/client. Discuss this dual role and ways to reduce worries by proposing regular intervals, e.g., every three or six months, for a performance review and discussion of salary raise or bonus. Be realistic—even though you find it hard to earn enough to pay your rent, the employer is depleting resources rapidly and worries about outliving savings.

Handling the interview

Whether an agency or private hire, interviews make or break the hiring process. Anticipate questions and prepare to answer them forthrightly and with concern for the client’s care and satisfaction. Expect to be asked about relevant experience. Show maturity, judgment, appropriateness, and boundaries as you describe your work.

How would you answer questions like these?
• What did you like most about your last job?
• What did you like least about your last job?
• How do you show respect for clients’ dignity?
• How do you offer help?
• How do you handle emergencies?

Prepare a couple of anecdotes from recent jobs that show your strengths and demonstrate your respect for the client’s dignity and privacy. Make sure not to not reveal the client’s identifying or personal information. Make clear that you learn and respect clients’ preferences and assist them with sensitivity and tact.

Step Four: Signing a contract with your client