Well, you got the call! Next step: the home health care career of your dreams!
Whether you're applying to be a nurse, a CNA, PT, a home health aide, or anything in between—you're probably just as thrilled as you are nervous. You want to make a really good impression, after all—the kind that makes you stand out from the rest.
The interview is the most important part of the job application process, so be sure to take the time to prepare.
How to prepare for an interview
Preparation is key to acing an interview. Here's what you can do in advance:
- Do your research. Learn as much as you can about the company: its mission, services, leadership, competition, successes, and challenges. The more you know about the company, the more you’ll have to talk about how you can add value. Employers are always impressed with candidates who do their homework; it shows interest and enthusiasm.
- Review your resumé and cover letter. That may sound strange, but reading through the materials you've already submitted is a great way to reacquaint yourself with the reasons you've gotten to this interview in the first place. Whoever this hiring manager is, they have hand-picked you to interview; so they must have seen something they liked! Practice speaking about your accomplishments. If you have a tendency to answer questions or talk about yourself in long, windy, unfocused sentences, consider explaining each bullet point or event on your resumé using the STAR technique.
- Situation: Describe the situation you found yourself in.
- Task: What task did you need to complete?
- Action: What specific action(s) did you take in order to complete that task?
- Result: What was the result?
- Keep your resumé updated and relevant. Ensure the information you're providing is as specific to the job you're applying to as possible. Keeping it up-to-date shows that you're always making strides at work, but also that you're detail-oriented.
- Compile questions. Rehearsing your answers to questions you can expect will not only give you more concise replies, but more confidence when it comes to the day of the interview. It's also a great idea to write down some thoughtful questions you'd like to ask them. Asking questions shows you've done your research, and critical thinking skills are a must for any candidate.
These days, many companies are doing virtual interviews. However, a lot of the tips for in-person interviews still apply:
How to prepare for a virtual interview
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted many of our workplaces online. Remote working and virtual interviews may be a part of the new normal, regardless of vaccine development and controlling the spread. Here are some additional tips for navigating a virtual interview:
- Test the software ahead of time. Whether it's Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or any other telecommunication application, make sure that you're comfortable with the technology and that your microphone and camera are working.
- Speaking of—use your camera! This lets your interviewer know that you're paying attention. It also makes it easier for you to identify those important breaks in conversation when you can ask follow-up questions. Using those moments, rather than interrupting your interviewer in the middle of an idea, is a much better way to showcase your well-researched questions.
- Present yourself in the best light! Using natural light is the most flattering way to illuminate yourself on video. Fluorescent and LED lights can be harsh and not nearly as forgiving. If you're not able to maneuver that set-up, consider purchasing a ring light (they're inexpensive and simple to use). You can clip them to phones, laptops, or desktop monitors, but there are also freestanding options, as well.
- Don't forget what's behind you. If you can, try to position yourself in front of a plain background (ideally a neutral color wall) or at least one that isn't too busy or reveals a little too much of your personal space. if you can't find a place that fits the bill, try a virtual background—there are usually pre-loaded options in meeting platforms like Zoom. The added benefit of using a virtual background is that the interviewer can't see if an unexpected visitor—like your dog or toddler—decides to crash your meeting.
- Mute yourself when you're not speaking. Interviewing at home means unexpected noises: kids, pets, appliances, traffic, neighbors, and everything in between. Let your interviewer answer your questions or explain more about the company or job position without having to compete with ambient noise.
Home health aide interview tips
For home health aides, we have created a practice test and interview guide that will help you get you ready to make a great first—and a lasting—impression.
Use the practice test to brush up on your caregiving skills. It has multiple choice questions with real-life situations you may find yourself in as a home health aide. At the end, you’ll find helpful tips for preparing for, attending, and following up after the interview. Know that your dress, your manners, your posture, your attentiveness, and more all speak volumes before you’ve even answered the first question.
Caregiver interview questions
Below is a list of interview questions for nurses, home health aides, PTs, and other caregivers.
- Can you talk a little about yourself and your work history?
- Talk about your skills as a caregiver. Are you particularly strong in one skill area? Do you have any weaknesses in another?
- What made you decide to become a caregiver?
- How long have you been a caregiver?
- What is the most rewarding part about this work? The most challenging?
- Describe a time where you've had a disagreement with a patient or their family. How did you handle it?
- Have you been a caregiver in the home before? If so, what do you enjoy about it? If not, why did you make the transition?
- In your opinion, what are the most important qualities a caregiver must have?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Do you have a preference about when you work (eg, day shift vs. night shift), the type of patients you would work with, or where you work (eg, no further than 20 miles)?
- When can you start?
- Do you have any experience with dementia patients?
- Where would you like to be in five years?
- Why do you want to work at this particular home health care company?
- Do you have any questions for me?
Overall advice for a job interview
- Always be yourself—your best professional self, that is. Let your interviewer see who you are beyond the experiences and accomplishments listed on your resume or letters of reference. Let them see you as an individual, with a passion for helping others. Let them get to know who you will be on the job, through stories you share that show how caring, reliable, and hardworking you are.
- Think of an interview as an introduction, for you as well as the interviewer. The best interviews end up as two-way conversations. This is your chance to learn more about who the company is, so be sure to ask questions and then listen to the responses. How you listen says as much about you as what you say.
Try to learn what you can from the interview experience. Each interview informs the next. But more than anything else—have fun and good luck!