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What’s the only interview question that matters?

By Stephen Tweed

Today, a friend on Facebook sent me a link to an article in INC. magazine entitled, “The Only Interview Question That Matters.” by Lou Adler.   In the article, Adler says,

“I’ve been in the recruiting industry for 36 years, and I’ve written a number of books about talent challenges and opportunities.  One thing that continues to surprise me is the more than 90% of hiring managers think they are good interviewers, yet rarely do they reach unanimous hiring decisions with other 90 percenters in the same room evaluating the same candidate.”

This really struck a cord with me, as we see the same thing in home care.  So many recruiters and schedulers think they are really good at interviewing and hiring.  Yet the caregiver turnover rate went up again this year to 52.3%  The reality is that most home care interviewers are terrible, and don’t have a clue about how to conduct an effective interview and get to the core criteria of the job candidate.

Adler suggests the One Interview Question:

“What single project or task would you consider to be your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?”

Imagine if you were the candidate and the interviewer asked this question.  How would you respond?

When interviewing caregivers, let’s shift the One Question just a little:

“What single client that you have served would you consider to be your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?

Then imagine what the next 20 minutes would be like if you followed up the answer to the One Question with follow up questions like:

  • Give me an overview of your service to that client
  • What made serving that client so special?
  • Tell me about the company, your role, and the team you worked with
  • When did it take place?
  • Why were you chosen for this assignment?
  • What were the biggest challenges you faced?
  • Where did you go the extra mile to serve the client?
  • Walk me through the case and how you handled it.
  • What were some of the biggest mistakes you made?
  • What would you do differently next time?
  • How did your work with this client demonstrate your your personal view of dependability?
  • How did you grow as a caregiver as a result of this case?

With a client case big enough and answers to these questions detailed enough to fill 20 minutes, this line of questioning can tell you all you need to know about the candidate.  The insight you will gain is remarkable.  But the real secret sauce is not the One Question.  The magic is in the details, and the real interview is about delving into the details.

For increased success in selecting caregivers in private duty home care, combine your knowledge of the client from the pre-employment assessments with the details that you dig out with this line of questioning.  After you hire a few people using these type of interview, you’ll find that you get better caregivers, your client satisfaction level will go up, your caregiver turnover will go down, and you will reduce your frustration and increase your income.

For more strategies and insights to recruit, select, train, and retain high quality caregivers in home care, visit

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