2 Meeting potential candidates

Before hiring a personal assistant or home help, it’s a good idea to meet them for an informal interview. Shortlist two or three candidates, if you can, to give you a range of people to choose from.

Of course, there are checks to carry out – detailed below – but first impressions are also important. Does the person seem caring, friendly and trustworthy? Do you think that they are someone that your relative could get on with? Meeting someone in person, and asking them a few questions, can give you a good idea of whether they will be suitable or not.

Questions to ask when interviewing home helps

  • What experience do you have of this kind of work? Please tell me about similar work you have done in the past.
  • What training have you undertaken? Do you have caring and any specialist skills?
  • How much do you charge? Do you work weekends/Bank Holidays and, if so, are rates different on those days?
  • How would we pay you? How often and by what method?
  • What happens if you can’t come in, for example due to illness, accident or bad weather? Could anyone else who is suitable come in your place?
  • What would happen in the event of an emergency, for example, if your relative had an accident or fell ill? Could they call you? Give details of who the personal assistant/home help should call if they couldn’t get into your relative’s home or if there is an accident.
  • Discuss up front any ‘rules of employment’ that you want them to abide by. For example, they must call you or your relative if they are unable to come to work; they are not allowed to bring anyone else with them unless by prior arrangement with you; no smoking in the house.

Aspects your relative should be aware of

Employing private individuals to take on certain tasks can give your relative more flexibility and choice. However, there are certain things that they should be aware of before hiring help:

  • Your relative might have to hire and vet potential employees themselves.
  • They will take on employer responsibilities and legal obligations.
  • They may have to deal with disciplinary issues and possibly the dismissal of a person.
  • Your relative could be left without any replacement cover if the helper is absent from work. An agency will usually find cover.
  • If your relative is not using an agency, they won’t have the added protection of staff training and vetting, or complaint procedures to resolve any issues.