Looking for the best example Personal Assistant interview questions and answers? Then you’re in the right place. Included within this article is a FREE template interview worksheet, downloaded in Microsoft Word.
For the purpose of reading this article, these questions are suggestions not absolutes so feel free to adjust them to suit your needs.
Ask only the questions that are relevant and remember you are not trying to trick them out. Think about the interview as the opportunity to have a great conversation with someone who may be the Personal Care Assistant for you.
I’ve split this article into six sections:
- Questions to put your candidate at ease
- Role-specific questions
- Behavioural questions
- Practical housekeeping questions
- Hints and tips to have a great interview
- Further help and guidance
1. Questions to put your candidate at ease
a. How would your friends and family describe you?
This is not a question that many people will expect you to open with and it’s worthwhile asking this. More often than not it makes them relax and brings a smile on their face – even if they take a while to think of the answer! In this question, you’re not only paying attention to what they say but how they say it.
b. What do you like doing in your spare time?
Finding out about a candidate’s interests and hobbies is a good way of uncovering if you share common interests. It’s not a big deal if you don’t and unless you’re looking for someone to be your friend, this shouldn’t affect their ability to do a great job for you.
c. What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
You can have a great conversation when asking a question like this. It opens the door for you to get an insight into your candidate’s values and what’s important to them.
d. What’s the one thing about you I would never find on your CV?
I love this question. It makes people laugh and you can uncover many things about someone based on how they answer. A special talent, particular interest or something that sheds light into their personality.
2. Role-specific questions
e. What made you apply for this role?
You are interested in what they say first as this shows what aspects of the role has stuck in their mind or they are very keen on. Moreover, it’s a clever way of getting feedback on your job description or advert, especially if you used our enhanced Personal Care Assistant job description template.
f. Have you worked with clients with similar needs to mine? How did you find the role?
Having complex care needs may mean you need someone with previous experience comfortable providing the right level of support. In asking this question, it gives you an opportunity to explore how they felt about the role – what they liked and what they didn’t like.
If experience isn’t that important then you need not ask this question.
g. What do you enjoy about being a Personal Assistant?
Listen to the answer they give. How much of what they say applies to the opportunity you provide? If they list aspects of the role, they wouldn’t be doing for you, this could be a sign then they are not a good match for the role.
h. What kind of caregiving tasks do you dislike or find uncomfortable doing?
Again, pay close attention to what they say here. If someone talks about aspects of the job they don’t enjoy and you know it’s a key part of what you need, then this could be another sign that there isn’t a match between you and the candidate.
i. What do confidentiality and discretion mean to you in relation to being a Personal Assistant?
You want to know the person you hire will be your confidante. They need to recognise that it isn’t professional to be talking about you or your care needs with other people. They are also respectful of you and your situation.
j. Who have you most enjoyed working for or with and why?
Finding out what makes people tick goes a long way in testing how they may get on with you if you hire them. You are looking for signals how they like to work why they enjoy working for or with someone so you can take notes and line that up with whether you can offer that person a similar work environment and experience.
What if someone admits she likes to use their own initiative but your style is rather autocratic? If you prefer things done in your way and keep a close eye on someone to check they complete tasks in a specified way, I would say you and this candidate are not a compatible pair.
k. What do you need from me to do a great job?
Both you and the candidate have a vested interest in having a great working relationship. That means honesty, trust, and respect need to be clear from day one, on both sides.
Allow the candidate to share what works for them and the support they need so you can decide whether you can fulfil this.
The worst thing you can do is articulate a
management style to entice a candidate to work for you and then, later
they find out that this is not the real you.
3. Behavioural questions (helps to understand how they’ve behaved in particular situations).
l. Tell me about a time when someone you worked for expressed their gratitude for your companionship. How did it make you feel?
You want to see if your candidate enjoys the work they do. The words they use, their facial expression and body language can tell you a lot when answering this question. How they respond should make you smile.
m. Describe a situation when had a difficult client/manager to work for? What made it difficult and how did you approach the situation?
Sometimes it is challenging to work for people. This question gives your candidate the opportunity to be honest about why they found that person difficult and what they did to ensure a good working relationship.
If a candidate says they’ve never worked for a difficult person, chances are they are not telling the truth.
n. Give me an example of when you had a difference in opinion with a client or manager?
There will be times when you and your Personal Care Assistant may experience a difference of opinion regarding what tasks need completing and how. It’s important that whoever works for you is comfortable in expressing their opinion and you, as the employer, are open to hearing it.
No one likes to work for an employer who won`t listen to them and value their contributions. Even if you prefer a particular way of doing things, be open to something different. Adopting a ‘my way or the highway’ approach won’t keep your Personal Assistant engaged and motivated.
o. Can you describe a recent stressful experience you’ve had? How did you cope with it?
Not every role is plain sailing and by asking this question you are looking to see if candidates can identify what makes them stressed but also the wherewithal to do something about it. There is no perfect answer to this question. Your job here is not to validate that the example they gave was ‘stressful’ because as individuals, we experience stress in different ways.
You are just looking to see if they are open and self-aware enough to talk about it. If they tell you they never get stressed, then it means they may not have a level of awareness to determine when a situation stresses them out.
A good answer would be some who says ‘I experienced this…it made me feel like…so I decided to…and now I am more able to cope if a similar situation were to happen again.’
4. Practical housekeeping questions
There are no perfect answers to these questions. I call them practical housekeeping questions as you need the answers to determine whether this candidate can fulfil the role.
p. Are you available for additional hours? How much notice would you need if I need extra help?
q. Do you feel comfortable assisting with bowel or bladder routines?
r. I need a driver with a clean driving record. Will there be any problems when my insurance company adds you to my insurance?
s. Can you drive a manual car?
t. Do you have experience driving in town centres or long-distance driving?
u. Are you available for out of town travel? Could you stay somewhere overnight? How much advance notice would you need?
v. You will need to have an enhanced DBS check. Will this be a problem for you?
w. What questions do you have about this role?
x. If selected for this
position, when could you start work?
5. Hints and tips to help you have a great interview
Should I prioritise someone with experience?
If you have complex needs, it may be important for your Personal Assistant to have a certain amount of experience and the right qualifications. However, people with limited experience can be a successful Personal Assistants as long as they have right values, attitude and a willingness to learn.
Can I interview candidates in my home?
I would strongly advise against interviewing candidates in your home as a safety precaution. Meet them in a public place where a friend or family member can come with you. A local coffee shop, library or even a pub or restaurant are great places to hold interviews as they are quieter during the day. Never interview a candidate in your home unless a friend or family member can be present with you.
What are the most important qualities a candidate should have?
It depends on what matters the most to you. However, I would say the most important three qualities a candidate should have are the ability to communicate, to be patient and to be compassionate. If you want to read more on the universal qualities an assistant should have, check out my post the Top 5 Qualities Every Personal Assistant Should Have for further information.
Do I need to ask every question you’ve suggested?
No, you don’t.
The Personal Care Assistant questions and answers are to help you asses a candidate’s suitability for your role in a way that puts them at ease.
Read through all the examples again and pick a couple from each section and/or mix and match the questions as you see fit.
What warning signs should I be on the lookout for?
Sometimes people can have a bad day and even best candidates can give a lukewarm interview performance. There is a difference between someone being nervous and someone who doesn’t want to be there but has attended the interview because they are desperate for a job.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a start. Pay close attention to candidates who:
- Is rude
- Is late
- Discloses confidential information about a previous employer
- Takes control of the interview
- Seems to be overly considerate
- Smells of alcohol or cigarettes
- Has greasy hair and dirty fingernails
- Stares or makes prolonged eye contact
- Makes little eye contact, although keep in mind it might mean the person is shy or from a culture that finds too much eye contact disrespectful.
- Begins the interview by telling you all the things they cannot do or all the times they cannot work despite what you said in your job description
- Has no references (even someone who just moved here should have friends or previous employers elsewhere).
- Says they really need a job and will take anything for now
- Looks to the person accompanying you for instructions and approval
Can I ask extra questions that you haven’t already covered?
Yes if they apply to the interview and they are legal.
Here is a list of questions you cannot ask in an interview under any circumstances.
- How old are you?
- What is your native language?
- Are you married?
- Do you have any children?
- What religion are you?
- Do you belong to any clubs or organizations?
- Do you own or rent your home?
- What country were you born in?
- What is your star sign?
- Do you have a disability or medical condition?
- What political party do you support?
- What are your family members’ names?
- What is your race?
- Where do your family members work?
6. Further help and guidance
I hope this Personal Assistant interview questions and answers article has provided you with everything you need to know to conduct a great interview.
There are other resources that might be helpful for you, including Randstad’s article Care Assistant Interview Questions and Answers. Or you can have a look at Glassdoor’s Care Worker Interview Questions, that has details of example questions that have been shared by candidates themselves.
Within our article however, I have provided a printer friendly Personal Care Assistant questions and answers template in Microsoft Word. We only ask for your email address and then you are free to download and edit the template as you need to.Personal Care Assistant Interview Questions Worksheet
In the event you need further help to decide which questions to ask or just want to run through how to have the best interview possible, we can help and it won’t cost you a penny. Send an email to Althea@findmypa.care with your contact details and we’ll come back to you within two working days.