Interviewing & Checking References

The Interview

Watch for behaviour when you first meet the candidate; are they respectful of your home, asking if they should remove their shoes before coming in? Do they speak directly to you and ask you the questions or do they ask someone else?

Following are some suggestions to help the interview proceed smoothly:

  • Consider having another person (especially a spouse or roommate, if you have one) with you for a second opinion
  • Be welcoming, offer the candidate a water, coffee, or tea if you like
  • Have a written job description to give the candidate. Give them a few minutes to review it before you start asking questions
  • Make a list of questions beforehand. Stick to the same questions with each candidate and record the answers (in writing or perhaps a voice recorder).
  • Pace yourself with the questions
  • Get the person to tell you about him/herself
  • Explain what a typical day is like, and be clear what you’ll be needing from him/her
  • Explain what you will need on days that are not typical, when you are ill, etc.
  • For sample interview questions, see below

Some other considerations to keep in mind include:

  • How easily did he/she find your home?
  • Was the person on time for the interview?
  • How did he/she interact with you?
  • Make sure he/she has a permanent address
  • If the interview is not going well, feel free to cut it short
  • Pay attention to your gut instincts when you meet a person, if it does not feel right to you, there is often a reason.
  • Remember, you may specify the gender of your attendants in your recruiting and it is not considered discrimination (while you may not discriminate based on any of the normally prohibited grounds of the Ontario Human Rights Code, you may select an attendant of a particular gender because of the exception for persons needing intimate personal assistance).

Sample Interview Questions

  1. What made you respond to the ad? Why do you want this job?
    • Look for sincerity and genuine interest.
  2. What experience do you have in this field of work? (Review their resume and ask them to explain in their own words what they did in previous positions.)
    • Look for the ability to explain in detail what they did, where they worked and dates.
    • Look for experience in what you need or the ability to admit that they have not done something that you have listed in the ad.
  3. Why did you leave your last position?
    • Look for honesty – for example, they moved onto something better, they wanted to stay home with their children , scheduling problems.
    • If they have not done this type of work in awhile, why not?
  4. Are you available to start work immediately? If not, when can you start?
    • Look for any schedule conflicts.
    • If they are willing to quit their current job without notice, would they do the same to you one day?
  5. You will have to take specific and regular direction from me regarding my needs and then memorize and carry out my routine with a minimum of retraining. Are you comfortable letting me call the shots? How will you keep track of how and when I want things done?
    • Do they write things down in a notebook?
    • What would they write down?
    • Do they seem concerned about doing things the way you want them done?
  6. What safety factors would you consider when transferring me? What safety factors would you consider when assisting me in the bathroom?
    • Experience in this area should be evident (e.g. Asking you how to best assist, slippery floor, bath mats, water temperature, ensuring everything you need is in easy reach before we get started etc.).
  7. Are you concerned about any part of the job?
    • They should have a question or two – schedule, pay, benefits, the Direct Funding Program itself, concerns about training if they have not done a task before.
  8. If you get the job, can you commit to staying at least one year?
  9. Do you have regular work with other clients that may interfere with my schedule?
    • Look for concern over leaving other clients on short notice.
  10. What qualities do you feel you could offer in working for me? In which areas do you feel you might require further training?
    • Look for willingness to admit that they need training in certain tasks, flexibility in schedule, availability for emergencies, willingness to carry pager, flexibility in carrying out of duties, ability to occupy self in other areas of the house if you’re resting.
  11. Do you have a driver’s licence and can you supply a clean driver’s abstract?
  12. Is there anything you would like to tell me about yourself?
  13. Can you supply three work-related references that can confirm your employment and work habits?

Possible scenarios

You may choose to discuss scenarios during the interview; here are a few ideas for discussion:

  1. You are scheduled to come to work for 9 a.m. This is standard and you have been arriving at 9 a.m. for two months now. One day, you ring the doorbell and there is no response. You try the back door and still no answer. What do you do?
    • Use cell phone to try to contact you.
    • Go around the property, bang on a window or another door, check if door is unlocked.
    • Have a procedure in place and follow it.
    • Call family member or 911.
    • Ask a neighbour if they saw anything different.
  2. I do not feel well when you arrive for your shift. I decide I want to lie down and skip my shower, exercises and meal. How will you occupy yourself for 2 hours?
    • Look for the ability to do several things at once (start laundry and get dinner cooking while they are vacuuming)
    • Offer to leave and come back later if that is better.

If the interview goes well...

  • Be sure to tell any potential candidates that you will definitely be checking references. All applicants should have references to be considered for the position, If the applicant offers no work or volunteer-related references or has work experience and references from friends or family only, it suggests the possibility of bad work performance
  • See sample reference questions below.

Checking References

Sample Reference Check Questions

  1. How long have you known (name) ?
  2. What is your relationship to (name) ?
    • Supervisor
    • Colleague
    • Instructor
    • Friend
    • Other
  3. What is the nature of the work that (name) did for you?
  4. (Name) is applying for a position where he/she will be my personal care attendant. How do you think he/she will handle this responsibility? Does he/she have experience in this area? Please describe.
  5. Would you say that (name) is:
    • Dependable?
    • Punctual?
    • Responsible?
  6. Why did (name) leave the position?
  7. Would you rehire him/her?
  8. Anything else you would like to add of significance?
For more information on the Direct Funding program, contact CILT:

Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT)
365 Bloor Street East Suite 902
Toronto, Ontario
M4W 3L4

Tel: (416) 599-2458
Fax: (416) 599-3555
TTY: (416) 599-5077
Toll Free:1-800-354-9950

"After becoming a self-manager, I have become more employable and can contribute more to the community. My increased independence boosts my self-esteem. My marital relationship is stronger and my family life is improving significantly. My future is more stable and promising."
38-year-old man living with family

Program puts more people with disabilities in control

The Direct Funding Program is being expanded to allow more Ontarians with disabilities to live independently in their homes.

You can read more about this in our News Release.

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