How to Interview Anybody for Anything!

Following are the notes from a presentation I gave recently…

How to Interview Anybody for Anything!

  • Interviewing Anyone About Anything applies to employees, contractors, tenants, nannies, babysitters, house-sitters, elder care providers, friends, dating, information gathering, etc.
  • Interviewing is a prediction of a person’s character and intent.
  • Successful interviews are based on common sense, instinct, intuition and checking references.


1. Define Your Ideal Candidate

  • What skills, knowledge and expertise should this person have?
  • What qualities will make this person a good fit?
  • What attitude/personality should the person have?
  • How much are you willing to pay for them (at each level of experience)? Define your budget.


2. Design your Interview

  • Define your screening criteria – a list of minimum requirements.
  • Decide upon the structure of your interview (formal vs. informal, method, etc.).



  • Easy way to screen candidates.
  • Good to asses initial communication skills and rapport.
  • Good to standardize all information across candidates.
  • Easy way to ask any awkward questions.
  • Candidate is more likely to be honest in writing.
  • Good to assess body language, ask follow-up questions, etc.
  • Good to meet at coffee shop, etc., if you are unsure about person.
  • Come up with interview questions. Following are some of my favorites:

Characteristics of Ideal Candidate

Interview Questions

(Introduction) Tell me about yourself.  Tell me about your last job.
Works well with people Tell me about the best <boss, company, client, family, etc.> for which you have ever worked.  Describe the worst.
Similar Ideals to Yours What qualities would you look for if you were hiring a <gardener, contractor, nanny, babysitter, etc.>?
Good References What do you think reference A will tell me about you?  Reference B?  Reference C?
Good Communication Skills/Good Rapport Generate 5-10 Minutes of Ad-hoc conversation at end of interview.
Reliable, Trustworthy, Responsible, Punctual, etc. Check References!!!!!
  • Create documentation (Screening Criteria, Questionnaire, List of Interview Questions, etc.)


3. Find Interview Candidates

  • Research Candidates

Type of Candidate


Babysitters & Nannies
  • Word of Mouth: Check with local schools, parents, friends, colleagues, relatives, neighbors, your church, lifeguards, childcare professionals at your health club, etc.
  • Internet Resources:,
  • Post fliers at a local school or university.
  • Nanny Agency: Premier Nannies
  • Word of Mouth: Ask your neighbors, friends, family, colleagues, etc. for references.
  • Internet Forums:, StapletonMoms Yahoo Group, StapletonDads Yahoo Group
  • Internet Forums:, StapletonMoms Yahoo Group, StapletonDads Yahoo Group,,
  • Screen candidates via phone.
  • Set up interviews with at least 3-4 candidates that meet minimum requirements.


4. Interview & Evaluate Candidates

  • Set the tone for each interview (relaxed, down to business, etc.).
  • Keep control of interview.
  • Evaluate your candidate’s behavior.
  • Ask your interview questions.
  • If candidate has potential, confirm your house rules; discuss timing.
  • Obtain quote or ask what pay rate is expected.

Signs of a Bad Candidate

Signs of a Good Candidate

  • Late for interview
  • Disheveled appearance
  • Limp handshake
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Hesitant tone
  • Repeated interrupting
  • Excessively arrogant or aggressive
  • Continuously self-critical
  • Speaks negatively of previous/current relationships/employers/clients
  • Any evidence of dishonesty
  • Lack of enthusiasm for job
  • Signs of irresponsibility
  • Does not ask any questions
  • Good consistent eye contact
  • Confident body language
  • Actively listening
  • Seems relaxed and comfortable
  • Seems positive and enthusiastic about job
  • Willingly provides information
  • Smiles and seems friendly
  • Allows you control the interview
  • Answers your questions directly
  • Engages in dialogue easily
  • Shows interest in what you are saying
  • Seems to makes good decisions
  • Seems like someone you (or your children) would enjoy being with

5.     Check References

  • ALWAYS contact references to ask about candidate. Probe references for more details.
  • Use references to confirm facts that your candidate has told you.
  • Ask references for additional references.
  • Lookout for warning signs (reference is vague, hesitant, provides 1-2 word answers, seems eager to end the conversation, etc.). Ask for an overall 1-10 “rating” in this case.
Some Questions to Ask When Checking References:
  • What were this person’s responsibilities?
  • What were this person’s strengths? What were this person’s weaknesses?
  • How did this person do with regard to <insert what’s important to you here>?
  • Was the person punctual? or Was work completed in a timely manner?
  • Were payment terms executed fairly and as expected?
  • May I see the completed work? (if contractor)
  • Did any issues arise with this person?
  • Why did the person leave the position?
  • Would you rehire this person without hesitation?
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell me about this person?


6.     Select Candidate

  • Narrow down your list of candidates to those who A) are within budget and B) you have a good gut feeling about.
  • Google them!
  • Choose the one you feel is best for the job

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