In recently unusual times, where people are being asked to stay at home and follow social distancing guidelines, interviewing a personal care assistant, face-to-face, may be problematic and interviewing via video is possibly the best alternative.

Interviewing over a video call may feel unusual at first. It can be harder to understand and relate to the person in front of you without having them physically present in front of you. This is natural for all of us, but, we it's important, for our own safety, that we adjust to our new environment, during Covid-19, and step outside of our comfort zone to do things we may never have thought of doing before.

Done well, a video interview can help you to learn a lot about the person you are meeting. Here are the most important tips which you can follow to ensure your video interview gives you the information you need on your applicant:

  1. Preparing your questions
    Being prepared with a list of questions is the most important thing. Just as you normally would do - in a face-to-face interview, note down questions on a piece of paper before you meet with your applicant(s).
    Your questions can be role-related, candidate- specific, or even more general than that e.g. related to the care sector as a whole.
    First, be sure to ask any questions related to previous experience and stated skills. Maybe ask them what attracted them to the previous roles they worked in and what they liked or disliked about each job - and why. You can also ask them about any challenges they faced and how they overcame these. This will tell you a lot about their attitude to working in a role similar to the one they are now applying for - and, when working in care, attitude is more important than anything (even skills and experience).
    If your requirement is for a carer who needs to help someone with a specific condition, like providing home help for an elderly person, working in autism care or with Aspergers disability, it will be necessary to understand what experience someone has in relation to the condition you need support with. Your questions should ask about the candidate's knowledge of this condition and how they came to learn these things. If the candidate has not worked in this area before, explain the role, perhaps by going over the salient points of your care plan, and ask them to ask you questions. Someone who is really interested should have actively listened and should at least have one question or comment on what you've said.
    Your role-specific questions should request the candidate to elaborate on the key qualities that your role requires.  So, for instance, if timekeeping is crucial to you, you can ask the candidate about what else they like to do and how they manage to fit things in, maybe asking them about tools they use to manage their timekeeping.
    Finally, you may want to include a third small section in your interview on why your interviewee works in care. This is a valid question, for which you need an honest answer. It gives you the chance to understand your applicant's motivations, which will come in handy if you hire them and need to manage them.
  2. Understanding non-verbal clues
    Although it may feel like a less natural environment, video interviewing can give you clues to someone's personality, by looking at what they don't say, as much as via what they do say. The most important thing is to be prepared e.g. by having questions written down beforehand. And second, if at all possible, invite a third person along to give you a second opinion. This will give one of you the chance to talk, while the other person can concentrate on the applicant's facial expressions.
    Smiles, frowns and reactions to what you are asking and saying are great ways to get a better picture of your candidate. Some other non-verbal clues that may help you can include things like their timekeeping with regards to your interview, the environment they have chosen to be interviewed in and their posture. Keep asking yourself, "Do they look keen? Are they paying attention? Have they listened? Are easily distracted?"
  3. Letting your candidate speak
    The more the candidate speaks about themselves, the more you will be able to understand their mindset. You need to be attentive to the information they are giving out. Understand their degree of compassion. Is the comment they made an appropriate response to what you said? Does the story that they have shared have a positive lesson behind it? Read more into the things they say. It will help you rationalise whether or not they will be a suitable candidate for your specific role.
  4. Defining the role
    Make the duties of the caregiver clear to them during the video call itself. Not only should there be no surprises when it comes to signing the contract, but the candidate needs to know exactly what duties they will be expected to provide. This is an opportune moment to check their reactions to what you're saying and to ensure that they fully understand what is required of them.
    The most salient points from your care plan will help tremendously. If at any point, you feel this is too long a discussion at this stage - this is something you can set up a second meeting for.
    Remember that while an elderly person may require different types of support with assisted living, someone requiring autism support will have very different needs, perhaps based on their age. The video interview your conduct is a great place to understand if a candidate you like the sound of can meet differing home care assistant requirements.
    If they are unable to understand anything, explain it to them. If they don't react with enthusiasm to your requirements, probe further and ask them why they have this reaction. Ask them what they think the alternative approach should be and discuss any other suggestions they might have. Even if you don't move forward with this candidate, you may well learn something for the future.
  5. Conducting multiple interviews
    You may need to have more than one round of interviewing. For instance, if you have complex needs, if are recruiting for more than one PA, or if you have had a high number of candidates apply to your one role.
    You might shortlist your candidates after the first set of interviews. Use the notes you have made on these candidates to understand if you'd like to meet any of them a second time to ask more questions.
    Ask yourself what the pros and cons are, of the individuals you have shortlisted. Is there anything more you want to ask them? Do you want to get something clarified? You can address these things in the second interview to help you choose the best applicant.
    If you weren't able to get a second opinion at first interview, this may be worth doing at second interview stage.

Although it will be worth the effort once your role is filled, hiring a skilled carer can be a difficult journey. Video interviewing will definitely help you to get a better view of your candidates, compared to just seeing their CV.

UKCIL has a safe and easy to set up video interviewing feature, available to all candidates who use our platform. Individual employers using the feature have told us how well it works. They particularly like the fact that you can invite your friend, family member of care support worker into the meeting easily for a second opinion, and they enjoy the fact that their details, as an employer, remain anonymous during and after interview. If you'd like to know find out more about what we do, please email one of our friendly team or call us on 0330 050 8010.