Topgrading enabled us to triple the projected sales for the Wichita office; A Player caregivers impress clients, who refer us, and A Players refer other A Players for us to hire. – Michael Steinberg, Franchise Owner

Home Instead


Industry: Caregiver


  • Improved from 25% to 88% A Player caregivers hired.
  • Excellent examples of Job Scorecard, Career History Form, and Topgrading Interview Guide for entry (hourly) workers at
  • 40% turnover beats industry average of 100%.

With most of my career devoted to picking and coaching senior executives and only in the past decade cascading down to even entry-levels, people sometimes ask, “Does it make sense to Topgrade part-time employees?” Well, I’d bet my mother’s life on it, or at least her quality of life.
In November of 2011 my 94-year old mother passed away, and Home Instead Caregiver Lynn Geiger made the last year of Mom’s life much fuller and richer. In a note to the franchise owner (not this case study franchise) I said Lynn had become like a super caring daughter, and in eulogy Lynn said Mom had become her second Mom. How’s that for “personal customer service”?
But that’s not why this case study is included. The Roundy’s case study showed you modifications of Topgrading for hiring cashiers and stockers, and theirs was a large-company process. This case study presents hiring methods for a small franchise of a large company. If your company hires entry-level employees, studying both case studies, including the forms and guides they use, might help you improve hiring. At the end of this case study you’ll see the Caregiver Job Scorecard and portions of the modified Topgrading Career History Form and Topgrading Interview Guide.
The Company: Home Instead Senior Care provides caregivers through 900 franchises worldwide. The Wichita franchise, this case study, was launched in 2011 by Michael Steinberg and his wife, Ewelina.
Topgrading History: After corporate executives attended a Topgrading Workshop, I volunteered the services of Smart & Associates to help a couple of franchises simplify and abbreviate Topgrading methods for hiring caregivers. My interest obviously stemmed from my mother’s needs. Michael Steinberg attended a Topgrading Workshop in 2010 and worked with Smart & Associates to tailor Topgrading hiring to the Caregiver role.
Topgrading Results: A Player hiring of caregivers has improved from an estimated 25% to 88%, since 44 out of 50 caregivers hired with Topgrading have turned out to be A Players.
A caregiver must remain with the company at least 90 days to be considered an A Player. Turnover is 100% in the industry, yet the Wichita office has experienced only 40% turnover so far.

Modifications of the 12 Topgrading Hiring Methods for Hiring Caregivers:

Step #1 Measurement: Done.

Step #2 Job Scorecard: An excellent Job Scorecard (below) was created to reflect accountabilities not just for an “adequate” Caregiver, but a true A Player Caregiver. The Job Scorecard becomes the basis for annual performance appraisals.

Step #3 Recruiting through Networks: Even without an economic incentive, Home Instead caregivers are so proud of the company that they have referred 25% of our new hires.

Step #4 Topgrading Career History Form: The Topgrading Career History Form (below) was modified to emphasize education less and add questions specific to caregiving.

Step #5 Telephone Screening Interview: Not done, for a good reason. Caregiver candidates are willing to visit the office and it is most efficient to screen candidates in person.

Step #6 Competency Interviews: Competency questions are included in the Topgrading Interview.

Step #7 Topgrading Interview: The Topgrading Interview lasts 11⁄2 hours and is conducted solo by Ewelina Steinberg. Part of the modified Topgrading Interview Guide is shown below.

Step #8 Interviewer Feedback: This is not done, because there is a fulltime interviewer who has mastered the techniques.

Step #9 Executive Summary: Notes are taken but no formal report is written, and so far, has not been needed.

Step #10 Reference Checks: Finalists arrange for six professional references, including three bosses.

Step #11 Coaching New Hire: New hires are coached to be the best care- givers they can possibly be. A 4-hour orientation program also certifies candidates and is for caregivers hired “provisionally,” and it is typical for 40% of new hires to wash out in this step. With candidates hired using Topgrading methods, the office experiences almost no failures at this step. 

Step #12 Annual Measurement: Will be done.


Accountability Metric Standard Rating
(A, B, C)
  Starts shift +/- 8 min. from schedule 100%    
  Uses call-in time clock 100%    
  Follows handbook policies 100%    
  Communicates any emergency or changes in client immediately 100%    
  Returns messages within 60 min. 100%    
  Min. 4 hours’ notice for call-offs 100%    
  Communicates schedule changes in advance 100%    
Customer Service
  Service continuation Cancellation of service other than for death, relocation, health change, financial, or end of assignment    
  Customer complaints Receives no customer complaints    
Upholds Home Instead/North Shore Senior Care’s values
  Competency ratings Average rating of 4, with no competencies rated “1”    
  Able to work, sometimes on short notice 75% “yes” when request was during stated availability    
  Training completed on time Initial training w/i 90 days. Ongoing training within 1 month    



Rating Scale:  5-Excellent; 4-Very Good; 3-Good; 2-Only Fair; 1-Poor

Green:  Easy to Improve; Red: Very Difficult to Improve; Yellow: In-Between 







  • Sympathetic to client needs 
  • Focuses on the client 
  • Truly cares about the client



Rapport & Relationship Building 

  • Sets the client at ease 
  • Engages the client in conversation 
  • Acts like a guest in the client's home 
  • Can "win clients over"




  • Warm and friendly 
  • Able to relate to their clients 
  • Makes the client feel as though the client is in charge




  • Physically presentable 
  • Does not involve client in personal affairs or get involved in the client's personal affairs 
  • Does not share personal information with the client that may burden or stress the client 
  • Does not share personal contact information with the client and does not have contact with the client outside work hours




  • Adjusts behavior to client behavior and mood 
  • Able to change shifts at last minute 
  • Allows client to live life the way the client wants to 
  • Responds quickly and effectively to emergency situations




  • Proactive communicator 
  • Able to understand clients 
  • Consistent message to client, office, and family 
  • Asks questions when they don't understand or are unsure of a communication 
  • Consistent communication with the office




  • Trustworthy 
  • Refuses inappropriate gifts 
  • Does not try to "get away" with things 
  • Keeps promises to office personnel and clients




  • Perform necessary tasks without needing to be asked 
  • Finds things to do that helps the client 
  • Recognizes that they need to "earn their keep" 
  • Actively does things that help the client's situation



Patience/Stress Management

  • Interacts positively with coworkers (in the office) 
  • Calm under pressure; does not show a temper with the client 
  • Able to separate work and personal life 
  • Ask for help when necessary in stressful situations



Track Record (hiring)

  • Evidence that they can stay with a client 
  • No significant career gaps 
  • Good references/relationships with previous supervisors 
  • Minimal call-offs




Modified Topgrading Career History Form for Caregiver


The standard Topgrading Career History Form is used, but the following modifications show less emphasis on education (few caregivers have college education) and more questions about caregiver experience and work availability.


III. EDUCATION: (Please circle the highest grade completed)


Grade School:  6   7   8 

High School:  9   10   11   12    

College:  13   14   15   16   16+



Certifications or Accreditations_____________________________________________________________________________________



IV. CAREGIVING EXPERIENCE: (Write the number of years of experience you possess for each task or condition listed below)


____ Personal Care Assistance (Male)

____ Transferring Assistance

____ Visual Impairment     


____ Personal Care Assistance (Female)

____ Ambulation Assistance

____ Hearing Impairment


____ Incontinence 

____ Meal Preparation (light snacks)

____ Diabetes


____ Bathing Assistance

____ Meal Preparation (full meals)

____ Alzheimer’s 

____ Dressing Assistance

 ____ Dementia Parkinson’s  


____ Showering Assistance

____ Stroke 

____ Short Term Memory Loss

____ Medication Reminders

____ Congestive Heart Failure

____ Pulmonary (lung) Disease




Please indicate the earliest and latest times that you are available to work:

Hours Available

























How many hours per week do you wish to work?____________________ When are you available to begin work?_____________________


Please indicate the type(s) of work that you would be willing to work:  ____Days    ____Evenings    ____Overnights   ____Live-In


Please indicate the areas in which you are able to work:


____North Wichita     ____South Wichita     ____East Wichita     ____West Wichita     ____Valley Center     ____Bel Aire      ____Derby


____Haysville     ____Mulvane     ____Goddard     ____Maize     ____Clearwater     ____Cheney     ____Mount Hope     ____Bentley


Please indicate the caregiver duties you are willing and able to perform:


____Companionship     ____Meal Preparation     ____Walking/Standing Assistance     ____Dressing Assistance     ____Bathing Assistance


____Laundry     ____Transportation    ____Errands     ____Light Housekeeping     ____Toileting/Incontinence Care     ____Personal Care


Do you have any reservations about providing service to a client with pets?  ____No     ____Yes   (____Cats  ____Dogs)


Do you have any reservations about providing service to a client who smokes?  ____No     ____Yes   


VI. Other:


____Yes     ____No    Do you have the legal right to work for any employer in the United States?           


____Yes     ____No   Would you be willing to arrange reference calls with supervisors you’ve had in

                                    the past decade, as a last step before a job offer?


____Yes     ____No   Have you had any moving traffic violations?  If yes, please describe______________________________________


____Yes     ____No   Have you used any names or social security numbers other than those on this application?  


____Yes     ____No   Have you ever been convicted of a felony and/or misdemeanor?  If so, please describe below.


       Incident                                             City/State                                                       Charge





      Caregiver Topgrading Interview Guide (Part of it is shown)


Applicant Name Date                Interviewer________________




How did you hear about us?



Why are you interested in HISC?



What type of hours/shifts are you looking for?  _______# of hours seeking ______days  _____overnights   ______live-in   ______weekends 


What parts of the job are you comfortable doing?  _______Companionship _________Laundry/Housekeeping ________Bathing _____Cooking


_____Toileting/Incontinence Care  _______Meal Prep ______Driving ______DL/Car _______DL/no Car ______no DL    ____Male  ____Female


Would you be able to pass a criminal background check _________, drug test ___________, DMV (if applicable) __________


Part II is an abbreviated look at education


and Part III is Work History:


Spend no more than 15 minutes talking about the candidate’s work history prior to the most recent 3 jobs, asking about:

▪ Accomplishments  ▪ Mistakes  ▪ Boss’ opinion of Strengths, Weaknesses, and Overall Performance



Work History Job # 1


Start here with the third most-recent job and come forward to the candidate’s  present job.

Record from Application/Career History Form: Company name, job title, and beginning and final levels of pay




  1. 1. Why did you take the job?




  1. 2. What did you do well there?  What are you proud of?




  1. 3. What mistakes did you make, or, looking back, what would you do differently?




  1. 4. What’s your best guess as to what this boss would say were your

      Strengths?  Weaker points? Overall performance rating?




  1. 5. Why did you leave the job?





Part III is additional competency questions and Part IV is Plans and Goals for the Future.

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