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The Right Questions for a DON to Ask in an LTC Facility Interview

Hiring the best staff is paramount to the success of a nursing home and one of the most challenging duties of the DON. While developing an interviewing process takes a considerable investment of time, a good interview is the first step in hiring and retaining the most qualified employees for the important job of caring for others.

Here’s a quick primer to help you hire right the first time.

1. Types of interview questions – An interview question generally falls into one of these categories:

a. Closed: Requires a yes/no response from the applicant
b. Open Ended: Requires a detailed response by the applicant
c. Behavior Based: Requires the applicant to describe his or her response to a particular scenario

2. Off-limit topics – Avoid any line of questioning that includes nationality/race, religion, age, marital status, political affiliation, handicaps/disabilities, and sexual orientation. An applicant asked such questions could allege that the job was not offered because of the answer provided.

3. Interview process – Structure and consistency are critical during the hiring process to protect the organization against potential complaints of discrimination. Develop and follow a consistent process for all applicants, including application process, interview questions, and reference checks.

4. Standard set of interview questions – Create an interview questionnaire with 15–20 questions for each job category with a space to write the applicant’s answers. Attach the completed interview form to the application to have as a record of the responses. It is helpful to include a brief set of clinical questions to determine the applicant’s basic knowledge of the job duties.

The following is a sample of 20 general questions you can use when interviewing for any position:

1.       Why did you leave your last job?
2.       What do you see yourself doing five years from now? Ten years from now?
3.       What are the most important rewards you expect from your job?
4.       Why did you choose to work with elders?
5.       Can you explain this gap in your employment history?
6.       Do you prefer working alone or in a team?
7.       How would you describe your ability to deal with conflict? Describe a situation where you experienced conflict with another coworker and how you handled it.
8.       What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
9.       How would your previous coworkers describe you?
10.   Why should I hire you?
11.   What makes you qualified for this position?
12.   In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our facility?
13.   Have you ever been fired or forced to resign?
14.   Describe the workload in your current (or most recent) job.
15.   Describe the most rewarding experience of your career so far.
16.   In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
17.   How do you work under pressure?
18.   What’s one of the hardest decisions you’ve ever had to make?
19.   How well do you adapt to changes at work?
20.   What have you accomplished that shows your initiative and willingness to work?

When preparing to interview for a position that requires a specific set of skills, develop questions to ask each of the candidates. Sample clinical questions for a CNA position follow:

1. What should you consider when a resident has a red spot on her left hip that does not disappear within 15 minutes?
2. Your resident is not eating as he usually does. What are you thinking and what are your next actions?
3. You see a coworker handling a resident in a rough manner. What should you do?
4. On your way to your car after work, you notice a resident crying on the patio. What do you do next?
5. Understanding that residents vary, what is the normal range for vital signs?

Blood Pressure_______________     Pulse _________________

See AADNS’s Human Resource Management for the Nurse Leader Manual for more information or check out the AADNS Career Center for additional hiring resources.

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