This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Interview Questions for Caregivers and Respite Providers

Interview questions for caregivers and respite workers. 
Compiled from various sources and adapted by Sarah Hedge.

  • Look for people who are willing to work with kids with special needs. 
  • Do a full interview process (phone screening, in-person interview in a public place, opportunity to meet kids in your home for those who pass everyyhing else).
  • Don't forget to ask questions about how the person would handle specific situations that you think may come up. 
  • Do background checks, reference checks, and drug screening. 
  • Look for two people, one preferred and a back-up person too. 
  • She used, but this would work in other situations.

Phone Interview Questions:

1. First, I want to tell you a bit about what we are looking for and what we can provide:

We are a very active family who is involved in a wide variety of activities. We are looking for a consistent caregiver so that we can meet each of our kids' individual needs more directly, have some time together as a married couple, and to have some time for parent self-care. Our family is looking for a non-smoking, college-educated caregiver who is comfortable with a friendly cat and an energetic dog. To best fit our family's needs, the caregiver is relationship-oriented, with a warm and fun personality, but who is also comfortable following established routines and maintaining established boundaries in an empathetic manner. We are looking for someone who is communicative and reliable, active, creative, and willing to be trained in how to best meet the special academic and emotional needs of our kids.

2. Given this information, is this a position you might still consider?

3. Tell me about yourself.

4. Why do you enjoy taking care of children?

5. Why are you interested in this position with our family?

6. What are you seeking in your next position?

This summer, our family needs a consistent caregiver NUMBER OF DAYS PER WEEK. Dates and times may change as activities do. We are mostly looking OUR PREFERRED DATES AND TIMES FOR RESPITE.

7. How many hours are you available per week?

8. What are you looking for in terms of schedule?

9. When are you available to start?

10. The role would depend on the day and time, but may include any or all of the following:

  • supporting kids in following through with our family's established routines, 
  • academic help, such as listening to kids reading aloud, or help with math work, 
  • supporting the kids in cleaning up after themselves or helping the kids complete their assigned chores, 
  • simple meal preparation and resulting dishes, 
  • using your own safe and reliable car to drop off at or pick up from kids' activities, and 
  • having fun, of course! 

We can be flexible with these roles and times with the right caregiver. Is there anything on this list that you would prefer not to do?

11.  We are happy to provide $10-$20/hour depending on your experience and the roles you play, training to address the academic and emotional needs of our children, and established routines and expectations so there isn't any (or much) guesswork involved. What hourly rate are you looking for?

12. What are your key skills and strengths as a caregiver? If you were hired, how would you propose to use those skills with our family?

13. Of course, everyone can always improve their skills. What do you want to do better when taking care of kids? What is your plan to improve your skills in that way?

14. Now, I’m going to ask specific questions about your background:

  • Eligible to work in the U.S.?
  • Valid DL? Car insurance? Clean driving record? Safe & reliable car?
  • Ever been convicted of a crime?
  • Ever had involvement with Child Protective Services?

15. What questions do you have?

Phone Interviews through DATE
In-Person Interviews through DATE (bring DL, proof of work eligibility, references)
Checking references, background checks, drug testing
Kid Visits through DATE
Hiring Decision ASAP after that!

16. Given our conversation today, is this a position you would still consider for yourself?


In-person Interview Questions (in a public place):

1. What do you enjoy most about working with kids? What do you find most challenging?

2. What are you most proud of as a caregiver?

3. Could you tell us a bit more about your experience working with kids who have emotional and/or academic needs?

4. Do you have any formal education or training that would be relevant to working with our kids?

5. How would other parents describe you? How would kids describe you?

6. What types of kids would you enjoy spending time with for hours at a time? Who would enjoy spending time with you for hours at a time?

7. If hired, what would you do especially well?

8. What is your view of disciplining children, and what should be the caregiver’s role?

9. Describe the most challenging child you have worked with. How did you address the challenge?

10. How do you handle kids that are pushing boundaries? Being sassy or talking back?

11. What would you do if one of our children begs for something we say is off limits?

12. What are your personal interests and/or hobbies?

13. If you had 5 hours to spend with our children, and no particular agenda, how would you organize your time and day?

14. Do you view your personality as flexible and easy to roll with change, or do you need more structure and ability to plan ahead?

15. What’s your five-year plan?

16. Why should we hire you?

17. What questions do you have?

In-Person Interviews through DATE
Checking references, background checks, drug testing
Kid visits through DATE
Hiring Decision ASAP after that
Nanny Contract
Tax Forms
1 month trial period to see if it’s a good fit

18. Given our conversation today, is this a position you would still consider for yourself?

LOGISTICS: Take photo of driver’s license, proof of car insurance, proof of work eligibility, references


Reference Check Questions:

1. What were the starting and ending dates s/he worked for you and what were his/her responsibilities? What were the ages of the children s/he cared for?

2. What are her strengths in working with children, and what are her weaknesses?

3. Did you ever do a performance review with her? If so, what areas was she working on? What were your goals for her?

4. What were the circumstances of her departure? (If there are two sides to the story and you feel like there’s a red flag, probe the issue further.)

5. Would you hire him/her again?

6. How would you describe his/her personality and temperament?

7. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate each of the following: his/her maturity ______, initiative _____, responsibility _____, ability to communicate _____.

8. How did you supervise him/her and what kind of style worked with him/her?

9. Did s/he like to get feedback? How does s/he handle feedback? Is s/he open and approachable? Give an example of when you asked him/her to do something differently. How did it go?

10. Did s/he feel comfortable bringing an issue up with you? Give an example, explain how you worked through it.

11. Is there anything I need to know that would help me supervise him/her better?

12. Did you and s/he share the same philosophies on things like discipline, or how neat to keep the house?

13. Can you give me an example of when s/he had to manage a challenging behavior with a child? What was the situation and how did s/he handle it?

14. Did you ever have a concern about how s/he handled a behavior issue with a child?

15. Did you ever suspect that s/he had a drug or alcohol problem?

16. Did you notice anything – personal or professional – that interfered with his/her ability to do his/her job? Was there any specific safety-related feedback you needed to give him/her?

17. Did s/he come to work on time? If s/he was late, what do you think the reason was?

18. Did s/he ever take the kids any place without your permission? Did s/he let friends or a significant other come to the house without permission?

19. How did s/he respond to a real emergency? What happened and how did s/he handle it?

20. Is there anything else that I should know about him/her?


Edited to add:
Don't forget to ask questions about things that are specific to your household / lifestyle:
Pet allergies or fears?
Ok with going up and down stairs in a 2 story house?
Comfortable supervising kids in a pool?
Can drive kids to sport or club activities?
Willing to handle unusual or aggressive behaviors?
Willing to administer medication?
Comfortable with the child having friends over? 

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