How to Interview for an Elder-Care Position
According to the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, an increased life expectancy combined with an ever-growing older population plagued with chronic health issues — including diabetes and high blood pressure — has created a stressed elder-care system. Elder care is also the fastest growing health-care specialization, making it an attractive option for anyone seeking employment in the field. You’ve recently earned or are thinking about obtaining your gerontology certificate online but aren’t sure how to land that first coveted post-graduate position. It takes a special type of person to care for an aging individual, and while interviewing for your first position, make sure to let your dependability, honesty and empathy shine through.
What the Client Is Looking For
No matter if you’re interviewing for a position with an agency representative, family member or the patient, everyone involved is looking for the same qualities in an elder-care employee. They often include:
- Reliability: A potentially ill senior requires the help of an individual who is trustworthy and consistently there to meet his or her needs.
- Positive attitude: Working with the elderly and meeting their unique needs is always challenging. An employer or potential client is looking for an upbeat individual that’s ready to face these challenges head-on.
- The ability to handle stressful situations: As an elder-care worker, you’re often faced with potentially life-threatening situations on a daily basis. Your employer will want to know you’re able to handle these stressful tasks.
- Patience: The most attractive quality that any elder-care worker should possess is patience. Don’t be afraid to let the interviewer or patient know that you’re a thoughtful, kind individual.
Questions You Should Ask
As with other vocations, your potential client or employer will ask you questions to determine if you’re a good fit, but it’s also just as important for you to consider if you’re up to the challenge. While at the interview, consider asking these questions:
- The senior’s needs: If this is your first post-graduate position, you might not have the skills or knowledge necessary to care for someone that’s significantly ill or has special needs.
- The patient’s previous experience with caregivers: Did the patient get along with previous caregivers, or was there an issue?
- What are the working conditions? Will you be working with a single patient, or are you expected to care for a number of individuals? What is the schedule and what are your job responsibilities?
- Can I meet with the previous caregiver? Meeting with a previous caregiver allows you to ask pertinent questions about the patient’s needs. If the home-care agency or patient is unwilling to provide you with the information, don’t take this as a bad sign and continue to ask about the patient’s needs.
Questions the Employer or Individual Might Ask
Once again, no two interviews, employers, or patients are alike, but there are a few standard questions you might be asked:
- Previous experience: If this is your first post-graduate position, chances are your previous experience is either limited or non-existent. If this is the case, feel free to tell the interviewer about any past volunteer work or internships in health care.
- Personal health: An interviewer will often ask about your personal health, especially if you have any physical limitations. You might even be required to pass a fitness test to determine your ability to lift a certain amount of weight.
- Symptom recognition: Get ready to put your education to the test because an employer will provide you with an illness and ask you to list the symptoms.
- Job interest: More often than not, an employer will simply ask you why you want to work with the elderly. Take this opportunity to point out all the attributes that make you the ideal candidate.
Beyond shining at the interview, the best way to land your dream job in the elder-care field is by first earning a certificate or degree. No matter if you earn a degree in health care administration or nursing or even strive for a fraud investigation certification,education lets potential employers know you’re knowledgeable, skilled, and serious about your future.
About the Author
Contributing writer David Harmon is a full-time college student. David is currently seeking a degree in health care administration and hopes to someday work in the elder-care field.