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6 Tips for Parents Interviewing Nannies

June 6, 2012

In addition to the basic interview questions regarding experience, work history, and salary expectations that parents should ask prospective nannies during an interview, there are several other important factors that should also be taken into consideration.

During the nanny selection process, consider these 6 tips when interviewing nannies:

1. Do your homework. Regardless of how you found your potential nanny, the ultimate hiring responsibility rests with you. Parents should speak personally with nanny references, verify proof of education and experience (even if this is reviewing the documentation a nanny agency has secured), review any background screenings that were conducted and have their own in-person interview with the nanny candidate.

2. Use past-tense, situational questions. When asking your nanny candidate questions about her care giving experiences and expectations, phrase situations in the past-tense. Instead of asking “What would you do if a child fell down the stairs on your watch” ask “How have you handled any injuries that occurred while the children were in your care?” Ask “How did you spend your day with your previous two-year-old charge” rather than “How do you envision a day with my child?” You want to know what the candidate has actually done, not what she thinks she may do.

3. Ask why other positions have ended. Nanny and family relationships end for various reasons. These reasons range from a nanny leaving because the children went off to school and her services were no longer needed to a nanny breaching a parent’s trust. Sometimes the relationship ends on good terms, and other times not so much. It’s good to get the nanny’s perspective on why a relationship ended prior to contacting a reference. Knowing why a nanny left previous positions also helps you to identify any potential patterns in employment history.

4. Inquire about child care ideas and philosophies. It’s important that the parents and the nanny share a similar style of parenting, discipline and communication. A nanny should be able to articulate what her parenting style is and the method of discipline she believes in. While the nanny should always follow the parents lead, in some cases the gap in styles is too grand (for example a family that embraces attachment parenting and a nanny who does not) to meet on and the nanny and family won’t be a good match.

5. Consider the nanny’s goals and aspirations. Before investing your time and energy into such an intimate relationship, it’s important to have an understanding of how long the relationship could last. If you are looking for a nanny for your newborn to stay for several years, it would be important to know if a candidate just wants to nanny for a year while she decides what she really wants to do, or if this the career path she wants to follow long-term. Ask why she chooses to work as a nanny and where she sees herself in 2, 5 and 10 years.

6. Clarify the type of care you want. Just like there are different types of families, there are also different types of nannies. Some nannies prefer to work strictly according to the daily schedule the parents have lined out and others like to have the authority to plan how they will spend their day with the children in their care. If you don’t want your nanny transporting your children to events and activities, for example, it’s important that you clarify that and confirm your nanny candidate is willing to accept a position that requires her to stick close to home. When nannies and parents do not address the type of care situation that is desired, there is a potential for trouble to brew.

Conducting nanny interviews is outside the comfort zone of many parents. Even those parents with a HR background often have trouble transitioning their corporate skills to the household environment. View the nanny interview as an opportunity to gain insight into the person you may consider trusting with your most prized position. Most nannies understand how important the interview and decision making process is and are eager to answer most any question that you may have.


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