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Interviewing a caregiver - Questions you might not want to ask...

You are going to hire a nanny or senior caregiver soon. You know that interviewing can be tricky, and don't want to make a mistake in this important activity. Before you begin advertising, narrowing down your candidates and starting the interview process, it is important to do some research on what proper protocol is for what questions you can ask and what is taboo. Here are some helpful caregiver interview tips.


Ideally you plan to pay your household employee a fair wage and be sure that all proper taxes are withheld in each paycheck. Paying the employee “under the table” will only cause trouble later down the road. You could end up paying large sums in back taxes or fines if the government discovered that you were not adhering to tax laws, and your employee could have a problem if they ended up injuring themselves on the job and was not covered by a worker’s compensation plan.

What exactly is a "fair wage"? Some ground rules you need to consider is that household employees - a nanny or senior caregiver for example - are hourly workers under the law and most are entitled to overtime for hours over 40 in a week. When you think about hiring you consider how much you can afford a week or a year, right? It's important in advance to translate that into an hour pay rate range before these important conversations. The HomeWork Solutions Hourly Pay Rate Calculator can do this math for you!

When it comes to the actual conversation about salary, rather than asking a direct question like “What is your current salary”, you can ask the candidate what their salary expectations are. You can discuss what you are willing to pay and plan on being a little bit flexible, so you can negotiate and find a wage that you are both comfortable with.

Physical Ability

Intrusive health questions are a no-no. To get around some of these, you can ask questions like, “this job requires you to be able to lift 50 pounds; are you physically able to do this portion of the job?” If you require that the caregiver have an annual flu and or pneumonia vaccine, or have a TDAP update as recommended to work around young children and vulnerable seniors, be up front about this and offer to reimburse them for the shots. Be aware that talking about people’s medical history is a sensitive subject and should be approached with care.

Criminal History

The “ban the box” movement has spread to include 11 states and numerous municipalities. Essentially states and cities have passed laws prohibiting employers from asking about criminal history in the interview process, the idea being to prevent discrimination against prior offenders who need a fresh start. This is a topic that can be very important to you, however, when it comes to hiring someone to work in your house. If you plan on running a caregiver background check on your candidates, be up front about this to be sure they are ok with this. And do insure that any job offer is contingent on a satisfactory background screening.


It is illegal to hire someone who does not have authorization to work in the United States AND it is illegal to ask a candidate if they are a citizen. What to do? The easiest way is to tell the candidate that you will be verifying US Work Authorization using the form I-9 as is required by law, and ask if they are authorized to work here. Remember many non-citizens are authorized to work in the US - citizenship itself is not a requirement.

And more...

It goes without saying that questions that relate to race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, and pregnancy plans are absolutely off the table!

The process of hiring a caregiver can be complex. Not sure where to start? Contact our team at HomeWork Solutions for information and advice!

Reposted with permission from Home Work Solutions (

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