Completing your personal support worker (PSW) training was the first step. But now that you’re looking to transition into the workforce, one key hurdle remains: the job interview. Preparing to face a hiring manager can be stressful, but learning about the questions you’ll likely face is a great way to calm your nerves and boost your confidence.
Questions like “why do you want to work here?” and “what are your biggest strengths?” are pretty standard for any position. And you should definitely be prepared for questions like “are you able to work shift work?” and “can you work nights and weekends?” But in this post, we’re focusing on specific PSW job interview questions that relate to what you would do in an actual job situation. Keep reading for sample questions and answers, plus extra tips on how to prepare.
COMMON PSW SCENARIO QUESTIONS
When you interview for a personal support worker position, you’ll typically get a lot of scenario-based questions. That means the hiring manager will describe a hypothetical situation and ask you how you would react or respond. You need to draw on your communication skills and apply what you’ve learned in your training to show that you’re the right person for the job.
Below are some common PSW scenario interview questions, along with sample answers you can use as the basis for your own responses.
1. How would you deal with an aggressive client?
You want to show the interviewer that you know how to keep your composure, evaluate the situation, and take steps to de-escalate the tension. You also need to emphasize that you can protect both yourself and the client.
“If a client acted aggressively, I would be careful to stay calm, not raise my voice, and not take it personally. After making sure they were safe, I’d give the client the space to vent their frustration. When the outburst was past, I would ask open questions about what made them angry so I could understand the situation and try to come up with a solution. But if things got out of control, I would be sure to call for help.”
2. If you discover a resident has fallen on the floor next to their bed, how would you respond?
The interviewer is looking to see if you understand the seriousness of a fall and the importance of checking for injuries before attempting to move the person. The key thing is to seek help from a nearby nurse or doctor (or emergency services, if you’re working in a community setting).
“The first thing I would do is call for help. I would stay with the resident until medical staff arrived to check for cuts, bruises, bleeding, broken bones, and other injuries. Once it was safe to move the person, I’d get another PSW to help me transfer the resident to a bed or wheelchair, using a mechanical lift if necessary. I would also be sure to document the fall according to the facility’s policies.”
You need to be very careful when transferring patients
3. What steps would you follow if a patient had a heart attack?
As a personal support worker, you need to be able to remain calm and focused during emergencies. In your answer, you want to demonstrate that you can follow procedures and respond appropriately in high-stress situations.
“If I noticed a patient experiencing a heart attack, I would immediately call emergency services. I’d give aspirin unless the patient had a documented allergy, and then I would give nitroglycerin if the person had a prescription for it. If the patient became unconscious, I would administer CPR until emergency help arrived.”
4. How would you react if a patient didn’t want you in their room?
The goal of this question is to see if you know how to provide personal support while also showing empathy for the patient. You need to strike a balance between being sensitive to a patient’s wishes and providing necessary treatment.
“I believe patients need to trust that I will listen to them and respect their privacy, but they also need to know that I will stand firm on delivering the care they need. In this case, I would tell the patient that I understand, and that I will leave their room for now but come back shortly to check on them. I would also explain the situation to my supervisor and get their input on the best way to proceed.”
5. If your client, who has dementia, suddenly became agitated and upset, what would you do?
It’s common for patients with dementia to experience sudden mood swings, and you need to be ready for them.
“I would keep my voice calm and steady and try to figure out what caused the sudden change. I know that it’s important to validate the client’s feelings, so I’d ask open-ended questions and listen to the client’s concerns without correcting them or arguing with them. I would also guide the client into a quieter space and try to make sure they’re physically comfortable.”
6. A long-term care resident pushes their call button every few minutes, but when you check on them, nothing seems to be amiss. The next time they press the button, what would you do?
Ignoring the call is not an option, since you never know when the person will really need help. This question is a chance to show the interviewer that you can solve problems creatively.
“If there was nothing obviously wrong, I would try to figure out why they keep calling for help. I think many residents are quite lonely and crave attention. I would go in and make sure they were safe and had everything they needed, and then I’d explain that I’ll return at the top of the hour to see how they’re doing. Having a regular time to check in may be reassuring enough to keep them from pushing the call button.”
Some patients use the call button just to have some company
7. What would you do if another PSW started arguing with you?
Chances are that you will have to deal with workplace conflict at some point in your PSW career. You don’t want to attack the other person or argue back, and you definitely don’t want to have a confrontation in front of patients.
“I would ask the person to step into a private room with me because I would never argue with anyone in front of patients or their families. Then I would focus on remaining calm and professional as we discussed possible solutions to the conflict. If the issue remained unresolved, I would take it up with my supervisor.”
HOW TO PREPARE FOR A Personal support worker INTERVIEW
Practising your answers for common PSW job interview questions is important. But when you’re preparing for an interview with a particular company, you need to get a bit more specific. That means researching the employer. Look through their website and social media channels to get a sense of the company’s culture and values. Learn as much as you can about the level of care they provide, their policies and procedures, and their codes of conduct.
You should also pay attention to press releases or news articles that talk about what’s been happening within the organization. Have there been management changes? Plans for expansion? New funding announcements? Knowing these kinds of details can help you go into the interview with more confidence.
And of course, show up on time and dress appropriately (no scrubs). Be friendly and professional. Most of all, be ready to talk about the skills and qualities you have that make you the PSW they’re looking for.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW
An interview will typically end with the hiring manager asking if you have any questions. Always be ready with at least one or two. Asking thoughtful questions of your own shows the employer that you are interested, engaged, and enthusiastic about the job.
Here are a few examples of questions you may want to ask:
- Could you tell me more about the team I’d be part of?
- Is this a new position or would I be replacing someone?
- How many clients/patients is each PSW responsible for?
- What metrics will be used to assess my performance?
- Are there opportunities for progression?
- What’s the next step in this process?
Still stumped? Get more suggestions for what to ask an interviewer.
Tip: Do NOT ask about salary, vacation time, or other benefits. Those kinds of details should only be discussed after you’ve received a job offer.
CAREER PATH OPTIONS
As a personal support worker, you can provide either facility-based or home-based care. Keep in mind that while PSWs typically work with seniors, your client list could include people of any age who have challenges due to illness, injury, or disability.
You could take on a staff role at an organization or work with an agency that places personal support workers in various settings. Look for career opportunities with:
- Long-term care facilities
- Group homes
- Nursing homes
- Retirement residences
- Home care agencies
have your own psw interview questions, and NEED HELP PREPARING?
Herzing Personal Support Worker graduates can enjoy one-on-one support from our career development team. We can provide resume writing assistance and set up mock interviews to help you get ready to impress a hiring manager.
Click below to learn more about our PSW program.