‘I Don’t Think Being Picky Is A Bad Thing’: A Look Inside The Most Selective Caregiver Hiring Processes

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At a time when home care providers are constantly trying to bring new caregivers to keep up with the increased demand for care services, some companies have gained a reputation for having a highly selective hiring process.

Leaders at companies like BrightStar Care and Tribute Home Care believe that valuing quality over quantity has worked out in their favor.

“We do not hire to meet demand, and that’s hard to do,” John Sneath, CEO of Tribute, told Home Health Care News. “A lot of companies turn away clients, because they don’t have caregivers. The more selective you are, the bigger a problem that becomes, but at the end of the day, since our business is so much about relationships from referral sources, we don’t have a lot of opportunity to mess up. The quality of our caregivers is something we promise, and we have to deliver on that.”


Founded in 2012, Tribute offers personal care, companionship care, housekeeping assistance, dementia care and more. The company operates in Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois and Northern Virginia.

Sneath explained that simply having a roster of caregivers was never the goal at Tribute. The company only hires about 2% of applicants, he shared.

“Typically, when we’ve expanded from 2% to just 3%, that has resulted in much higher turnover three to six months down the road,” Sneath said. “We just feel the pain of poor quality immediately, and we feel like so much is at stake.”


At BrightStar Care, its company-owned locations hire less than 10% of caregiver applicants.

“For visual visualization purposes, I like to think of it as a funnel,” Leslie Waddell, senior vice president of talent experience at BrightStar Care, told HHCN. “If you have 100 people applying for a particular job posting, only about half will have the experience or qualifications that we’re looking for. Of that, how many make it to the interview and really meet our core values? I don’t think being picky is a bad thing. At BrightStar Care, we prioritize thorough screening and rigorous vetting of potential caregivers to ensure they meet our high standards of excellence.”

Chicago-based BrightStar Care is a provider of home care, senior living and supplemental staffing services. The organization has been deliberately increasing its company-owned footprint of late.

Waddell describes BrightStar Care’s hiring process as being a comprehensive and supportive one.

“From the hiring side of things, we want it to move swiftly, but with all of the important things that we’re looking for being identified through that process,” she said. “We know that caregivers are always on the hunt. They’re always looking for the next best thing. We know that we need to show them through the hiring process, what it means to be an employer of choice.”

The process begins with thorough screening and background checks to verify qualifications and ensure safety.

BrightStar Care focuses on its core values during the process, as well as making sure the applicant’s skills match the needs of the company’s client base. Making the hiring process feel more personal is also important to the company.

“We don’t try to make everything move through like an electronic path,” Waddell said. “We know that our caregivers need that personal touch. We don’t just have them fill things out online, and then hire them and then get them scheduled. We make sure that we’re aligning with that caregiver and looking at not only their skills or their qualifications, but also what is their commitment and compassion towards what we do.”

‘The value of the process’

Someone looking to become a caregiver at Tribute begins by filling out an application that’s about 10 or 11 questions long. This gives the company enough objective information to determine who moves on to the next round in the hiring process. This is followed by a short screening call, which typically lasts about 15 minutes, and is meant to confirm the information in the application.

Applicants that move on to the next round have to complete two additional interviews.

“It’s a pretty lengthy process for most caregivers in home care who haven’t been through something like this,” Sneath said. “Every time we think about shortening it, we have seen the value of the process. It gets people to become more and more comfortable, and therefore open up and be more themselves. That’s helpful for them, but it’s also helpful for us to really see if this is going to be a great match.”

There are four performance qualities that Tribute is looking for during the hiring process. The company wants caregivers who are excellents communicators, caregivers who have the ability to build connections, and people who are reliable and flexible.

“We screen for the qualities that we think will lead to those behaviors,” Sneath said. “We really try to zero-in on if a person has what we call a heart-driven desire to care for others.”

Along these lines, the company is looking for people who, specifically, want to work in home care.

“Somebody who is indifferent to the setting that they’re in, it’s not always a bad sign, but it can be a big red flag because home care is different,” Sneath said. “One-on-one is very different from caring for 10 or 15 residents or patients. It’s much more focused on relationship development, and really getting to know somebody.”

Retention benefits

At BrightStar Care and Tribute, having a highly selective hiring process has led to strong retention.

Tribute’s turnover rate checks in at a little less than 20%, and Sneath credits the company’s effective hiring process. BrightStar Care retention rates for its non-clinical staff sits at 54.1%.

Both companies also have robust professional development and support programs in place to ensure that once the work of finding and hiring the right caregivers is complete, employees have the space to continually improve their skills.

For example, Tribute tries to create an environment that allows employees to be open about the challenges they face on the job.

“You’re already working at a physical distance from your team,” Sneath said. “If you have a client who’s so challenging that you’re not going to be able to do my next visit, it can be hard faith and to convince yourself that you can pick up the phone, and speak to somebody and not have it sound like failure. We really talk a lot about that and try to create an environment where you can talk to us, and we’re going to try to help you solve that problem.”

On its end, BrightStar Care offers a variety of different disease state learnings. At some of the company’s locations, they are able to help caregivers get their HHA certification, or their CNA certification.

Ultimately, Waddell believes that having higher standards impacts all areas of a home care business.

“If you’re not selective, not only does your turnover continue to churn, but your client turnover will churn,” she said. “You won’t have happy clients. It’s all about making sure that when you’re hiring people, that person is someone you’d want to take care of your loved one.”

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