Archives for parents as employers

Engaging your Employees


Employers are moving away from the old management style of "command and control" to engaging their employees.  Studies have shown that engaged employees are 40% more productive than other employees and have a higher level of emotional committment.  This goes a long way in ensuring consistency in the care of your family member!

Perhaps that next time you want something done at a home, try engaging the employees by building a vision of what you’d like for your son or daughter in the future and ask the staff how they can help contribute to your vision.  If you consistently apply this you’d be surprised at the increased level of committment and productivity.

Top 10 things that engages employees:

1. Achievement

2. Recognition

3. The work itself

4. Responsibility

5. Increased responsibility

6. Growth

7. Salary

8. Relationships at work

9. Working conditions

10. Security

You may not be able to do all of these but try out a few over the next couple of months and see.  Lead the way!

Conducting Reference Checks – make sure you ask, before you hire


One of the most effective steps you can take before hiring someone is to contact their references. Many people, employers included, overlook this, feeling confident they have found "the perfect match". However, this  step is a key part of any hiring process – understand that past performance is one of the strongest predictors of future performance.

When making your calls (yes, you should call more than one), here are some tips to keep in mind. But before you begin, ensure your applicant has provided you with a written release of information for employment purposes, providing you with permission to contact their previous employer.

1. Confirm employment dates. Are the dates your candidate provided accurate? Did they perhaps indicate they worked from 2007 – 2008 and were only employed from November to January? If honesty is a quality important to you, you will want to know.

2. Confirm who you are speaking with. What is/was the relationship between the referee and the candidate? You will want to know if the referee actually supervised the candidate’s performance. If not, and they were co-workers, has the candidate provided any supervisory references? These days, many employers ONLY accept references from someone who has supervised the candidate’s performance.

3.  Ensure the referee is someone who is authorized to provide the information you are asking for. Many employers only provide this authority to the human resources department, so you may want to contact the employer to find out what their policy is and whether the name you were given is authorized to respond. 

4. If the reference is provided through human resources, you may be disappointed to learn that the company will only verify employment dates. If they are only willing to do this, ask them whether this is their policy. It may also be because the candidate was less than stellar and they don’t want to say anything negative.

5. Your questions should be tailored to the job and should be consistent for each candidate. You may want to use a rating scale for each question. Your questions could include:

What type of work did the person do in their position?

What were their relationships like with others?

What were their strengths/areas to improve?

How would you describe their work performance?

Were there any concerns?

Explain the position they are being considered for. Would they recommend the candidate? Why or why not?

Ask about their personal character – were they dependable, trustworthy, honest? Did they take the intiative? Were they motivated to learn? Did they have a positive attitude?

Ask for examples!

And finally,

Ask if they would re-hire the candidate, if given the opportunity?

Shortlisting for Interviews


When shortlisting staff I have a hard look at the resumes and cover letters looking for experience and skills. I also look for any discrepencies, gaps in employment etc.

Once I have several suitable resumes I do a short telephone interview so as not to waste my time and the candidates time. If the candidate seems worth an interview then a face-to-face meeting can be arranged. If possible, I usually interview 4-6 candidates all on one day.

Interview Evaluation Summary


This form may be helpful (cut & paste) when you have completed your interview and you want to reflect on selecting the best candidate for the position.This evaluation matches the interview questions in another posting. So, when filling out this form, the person either performed the required behaviors or they didn’t, hence the yes or no answers (of course you may decide that it is unrealistic for the person to know that behavior and can learn).


Candidate Evaluation Summary

Candidate’s Name______________________


1. Health and Safety:

Behavioural Level: Helps with achieving good hygiene and nutrition; is aware and proactive with respect to safety; ensures that medical care and appointments are up to date and recorded. Interpretive Guide: Did the candidate demonstrate an awareness of health and safety issues when supporting a person with a disability? Do they think and act proactively to prevent unsafe situations?

Level Observed: Yes or No

2. Conflict Management:
Behavioural Level: Is mindful about language and its impact on others; notices conflict and picks the appropriate time to resolve it; Actively uses conflict resolution skills; has an advanced understanding on conflict resolution.

Interpretive Guide: Did they demonstrate that they are aware of language and timing? Did the candidate notice conflict and actively try and resolve it? Does the candidate have conflict resolution skills that they use on a daily basis?

Level Observed: Yes or No


3. Time Management

Behavioural Level: Plans ahead, is internally motivated to complete tasks; keeps staff schedule current and keeps staff up to date.

Interpretive Guide: Did the candidate demonstrate that they plan ahead? Did the candidate demonstrate that they are a self-starter? Have they scheduled staff? Have they planned for another person in terms of housing, recreational, medical, and other activities?

Level Observed: Yes or No

4. Use of Positive Behavior Supports

Behavioural Level: Consistently uses picture symbols for communication and scheduling; ensures that devices and supports are used in the community to assist Angela; Knows the elements of positive behavior supports and knows how to keep data; Knows what a Functional Assessment is and can do one; Understands social stories and uses them appropriately.

Interpretive Guide: Did the candidate demonstrate knowledge of Positive Behavior Supports. Has the candidate used PBS on a regular basis? Does the candidate have an advanced understanding of PBS and all of its elements?

Level Observed: Yes or No


5. Community Integration and Friendships:
Behavioural Level: Helps clients to be part of the community and actively promotes friendships with people who are not paid staff. Educates others about the benefits of inclusion.

Interpretive Guide: Did the candidate demonstrate inclusive behavior? Has the candidate helped someone to get a friendship and maintain it?

Level Observed: Yes or No

6. Independence Building:

Behavioural Level: Promotes independence of clients; Follows scheduling protocols to promote independence; looks for opportunities for paid employment.

Interpretive Guide: Did the candidate show that they actively encouraged a client’s independence? Do they allow the person with a disability to speak for themselves? Have they helped a person with a disability get a job?

Level Observed: Yes or No

7. Treats People with Respect:

Behavioural Level: Speaks appropriately to clients, offers choices, does not speak about a client as if they were not there; promotes respectful behavior from others.
Interpretive Guide: Did the candidate show that they have respectful behavior toward people with disabilities? Did they demonstrate that with clients and in the community?

Level Observed: Yes or No

8. Other Role Competencies:

Behavioural Level:
Administers all aspects of household management; reconciles personal and house accounts; Leads a staff team; possesses computer skills to create positive behavior supports.
Interpretive Guide: Did the candidate demonstrate the ability to run a household? Have they looked after another person’s finances? Do they have computer skills? Have they led a team? 

Level Observed: Yes or No



Parents as Employers… Sample Interview Questions


The interview questions below are behaviourally based interview questions that I wrote and use when hiring staff. They are questions that ask, "Tell me a time about when you actually did x,y, x," rather than situational questions that asks a question like, "what would you do if…."

A situational question is helpful as a back up if the candidate does not have experience but intuitively knows the right answer. From the text below (copy and paste) you can create an interview form in Word. Just reformat, change the questions to suit your circumstances, insert lines under each question so you have room to write and then you have interview questions that can be used again and again. 


Residential Support Worker Interview Questions

Candidate’s Name______________________

Career History
Start with your latest work experience and work backwards to high school. What was your position? What was your area of responsibility? Who reported to you? And who did you report to? What were the key skills for the job? What experiences makes you suitable for this job? What would you need to learn for this job?

Health and Safety:
What do you think needs to be considered with regard to client health and their personal safety? Give me specific examples of what you did with respect to client health and safety in your last position. Give me an example of when in the past something went wrong with a health or an unsafe situation. What did you do? What were you supposed to do? What was the result?

Conflict Management
Tell me about a time when you were in a conflict at work. What was the situation? What did you say? What did they do? What was the outcome? Tell me what you considered when you were in a conflict. What skills did you use? How do you actively practice conflict resolution skills at work? Give specific examples of how you practiced your skills. Give me an example when an attempt to resolve conflict went wrong? What did you do? What were you supposed to do? What was the result?

Organizational Skills:
Tell me about how you stay organized at work when you have conflicting demands. Give me specific examples of how you managed conflicting responsibilities in the past? What past experience do you have in organizing a household where people with disabilities live? Give specific examples of your duties. Explain how you went about it. Think back to a time when you scheduled staff. How many staff did you schedule for? How did you go about it?

Use of Positive Behavior Supports:
Explain Positive Behavior Supports. What is a Functional Assessment? What are setting events, antecedents, and maintaining consequences? What is a Social Story? What are the primary sentences of a Social Story? How are they applied? What is the purpose of keeping data? How do you analyze the data? Tell me about a time that you used Positive Behavior Supports in your job? Be specific and detailed. Tell me about your past experience using Boardmaker.

Community Integration and Friendships:
Give me an example of a past work situation where you assisted a person with a disability to be part of the community? What did you do? What was the result for the person with a disability? Give me an example when you tried to integrate someone into the community
and it did not work. What was the situation? What happened? What was the result for the person with a disability? What would you do different?

Independence Building:
Give me an example of a time when you helped a person with a disability to become more independent. What did you do? What was the outcome? How did the person with a disability become more independent? Tell me about a time when your efforts to help someone with independence failed. What did you do? What was the outcome? What did you do different after?

Treats People with Respect:
Tell me about how you treated your clients with respect. What did that look like specifically? What was the situation? What did you do? What was the result? How did you encourage others to do the same? Give me specific examples. Tell me about a time when you did not show respect. What happened? What was the outcome for the person with the disability?

Other Questions:
Tell me about a time when you managed a household for other people. What exactly did you do? Give me a complete list of your duties. Give me an example of a time when you led a group of staff? What were your responsibilities? Give me an example of a time
when you were leading a staff team and they resisted your direction. What happened? What was the result? What did you do to get it on track?

Does the candidate have any questions? If so, what are they?

Top Ten Interviewing Tips


Many parents inherit human resources professional duties as a consequence of having to provide staff for their loved ones. One such duty is having to interview staff. So, what follows are the top ten tips for a good interview process:

1. Be prepared.

2. Shortlist the top four to six candidates and interview them.

3. Find a suitable place to interview. I have done it at home and in restaurants. I prefer the restaurants.

4. Have good interview questions.

5. Be open with your information so they can give you the best answers.

6. Be aware of body language, yours and theirs.

7. Have someone else interview with you and take notes (or you can develop a form with the interview questions and space to write your observations).

8. Set the tone. Give them background on the hiring situation, tell them to take their time with the answers and to relax.

9. Don’t hire on the spot. Check references. Call back the ones you have interviewed and inform them they did not get the job. Do not do this until the successful candidate has accepted the job and you have negotiated wages and working conditions.

10. Evaluate the answers given and trust your gut. It is sometimes better to hire someone that is green but intuitively gives the right answers and that you feel good about.

How do I find Staff to Care for My Family Member?


For parents who employ staff to care for loved ones, finding staff can often be a frustration. What follows are some ways that I have had success in finding staff in the Vancouver area.

Putting an ad in the local paper is very expensive and does not always produce results.

I have used the HRDC website to find staff. Just go to their jobsbank website. You can join and then post your job advertisment. The added bonus with this site is all that there is a lot of employer information at your finger tips.

Another way to place an ad is on Craigslist or on Kijiji.

Or you can try sending a posting to Capilano College, Sprott Shaw, or SFU so that students can have access to your job posting.

Things to include in the job posting is the hours of work, what the position involves, the skill level and experience required, where the job is located and the rate of pay. I usually ask that resumes and cover letters are emailed to me and I do not include my address or telephone.

Who else has tips on how to find staff?