The Doula Interview: 3 Mistakes to Avoid
Mistake 1: Turn it into a mini prenatal
Some clients are so hungry for information that they come to the interview with a copious amount of questions. They might ask you everything from your opinion about their care provider to what your thoughts are on circumcision. The potential Clients might even ask so many questions that before you realize it, hours have passed and you will have conducted a mini childbirth education class right there in the coffee shop. If you don't reign them in, their questions you might also have covered most of what you usually do during a prenatal.
Being a source for quality information is great and I'm not suggesting that you should avoid answering all questions. What I do suggest is to limit your questions to those that are essential for helping with the hiring decision or help them with an immediate need.
Example of hiring decision questions: "What is your backup situation?" and "When do you meet us in labor?"
Examples of immediate need questions: "Is my hospital natural birth friendly?" or "Do you have a childbirth class that you recommend?"
Examples of questions that I suggest saving for he prenatal include: "How will I know when it is time to go to the hospital?" and "what positions would you suggest for back labor? "
The interview should be used to find out if you are a good match. It's the time to make sure that they know the great skills and qualities that make you unique. Use that limited time to ask them questions. You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you!
Mistake 2: Bash their choice of care provider or birthing location
Many times I have received an inquiry from a potential client who was upset about a phone call or interview that they had with another potential doula. The other doula openly criticized the client’s choice of care provider and/or hospital and told the potential client that they would have a negative birth experience if they stayed with those choices. The first time I heard about this I was shocked and I thought it was a one-time occurrence. This actually is fairly common! Bashing someone else's choices isn't empowering. As doulas we need to honor their choices. If they ask opinion about their choices we can give input. If they aren't aware of challenges that come with their choices was can let them know, but not at the interview unless we are asked for our input. Doulas are there to support clients, not show our bias or force clients to birth with our favorite providers or favorite birthing locations. If you know that you don't like working with their choice of birthing location or care provider tell them that you aren't the best fit for them. Allow them to work with a doula that would feel comfortable supporting them where they are at. And please don't agree to be their doula with the intention of changing their mind during the prenatal.
Mistake 3: You don't interview them
When I first started out I was very eager to get clients. If they wanted to interview me, then I wanted to be their doula. I was ready to go and wanted to work with everyone. I would ignore red flags and not listen to my gut. This was a mistake that is one of my top 5 lessons learned in my first 10 years of doula work. Don't look past red flags during an interview. Doulas should be interviewing the potential clients just as much as the clients are interviewing doula. Make a list of questions for clients and bring them to the interview. This is an important step and also shows the potential clients that you are taking this relationship seriously.
- Alice Turner