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How to ace a senior care job interview

You're moving ahead in your job search, having pinpointed the kind of job you want, determined that you'd like to work directly for an individual or family, and have figured out how much to charge. Now it's time to prepare for a job interview.

It might help to try to put yourself in the mindset of the person who will be interviewing you and think about the characteristics she will be looking for.

Families often look for someone who:

  • Is trustworthy, reliable, and compassionate. After all, seniors needing care are vulnerable and may have movement or memory limitations.
  • Is competent, experienced, and will do a good job. A proven track record can be helpful.
  • Enjoys doing this kind of work. A positive attitude can help the senior and the person they are responsible for to feel comfortable with the caregiver.

The employer is likely to ask questions about:

  • Your previous clients
  • What your responsibilities were
  • Why you left those positions
  • What you liked and didn't like about the jobs
  • What your strengths and weaknesses are
  • Your references — they may request names and contact information

To find out if you would like the job, make sure you speak in person with both the elder you will care for and the person who will oversee your employment.

Questions you can ask:

  • What the particular needs of the senior are
  • If the elder prefers a specific personality style; what his likes and dislikes are; how he enjoys spending his time
  • What the senior's experience has been with previous caregivers — if there were any problems, how long they lasted, and why they left
  • Exactly what you will be expected to do and on what schedule
  • Any special precautions you will need to take with the elder

After the interview, consider if you'll be comfortable with:

  • The employer
  • The elder
  • The working conditions
  • The particular responsibilities you'll have

Finally, consider these legal questions:

  • Taxes. If you work for a family that pays you $2,100 or more in a calendar year, that person is legally obligated to report your salary to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and withhold Social Security and Medicare taxes. Make sure you are on the same page with the family about how tax reporting is going to be handled.
  • Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers are required to fill out an I-9 form that verifies that you are legally entitled to work in the United States.

Read next: Top 11 caregiver duties

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