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Working Interviews and Trial Periods

September 8, 2012

Part of the nanny screening and hiring process should include a working interview and a trial period. While phone interviews, in-person interviews, reference checking and background screening give you tremendous insight into who parents are considering to have care for their children, the working interview and trial period gives both the parents and the nanny the opportunity to test-drive the employment arrangement and see if they’re truly a good match.

Even the most highly trained nanny won’t be the right nanny for every family and even the most accommodating employer won’t be right for every nanny. When parents are considering their equally qualified and screened candidates, the one they click with best will be the best hire.

The Working Interview

After the in-person and phone interview and once the parents are confident that they’d like to extend an offer of employment to a nanny, a working interview should take place. Working interviews can be a few hours or a few days, although generally speaking they last between 1 and 3 days.

During the working interview nannies have the opportunity to interact with the children, learn more about the family dynamics and get a better sense of the family’s needs, house rules and how the family operates. Parents get to observe the nanny in action, observe her interactions with the children and gauge how well she’ll fit in their family. Both the nanny and parents get the opportunity to see how their temperaments and personalities mesh and to see if there are any unexpected red flags.

During the working interview nannies should be paid for their services. This is industry standard. The compensation for the working interview should be determined prior to the interview.  Typically a set fee is agreed upon or the nanny is paid her asking hourly rate. If the nanny lives out of state and the family wishes to have her travel for a working interview, the family typically pays for those travel expenses. Nannies from out of state will typically stay with the family during their working interview.

Parents should not view the nanny’s working interview as free childcare. While the parents may leave the nanny with the children for short periods of time to allow her and the children to spend time together, the parents should be readily accessible. 

The Trial Period

After the working interview, both the parents and nanny should know if they wish to work together. If the parents wish to offer the nanny a position, it should be contingent on the results of a thorough background check and executed work agreement.

In the nanny and family work agreement, a trial period clause should be included. The clause should include the start and end dates of the trial period and the steps that need to be taken should the nanny or parents choose not to move forward with the employment arrangement.

During the trial period nannies should be paid for their services. They should be paid according the contract they’ve worked out. The contract should clearly outline the nannies hours, salary and role, duties and responsibilities.  Benefits, when benefits would kick in and tax responsibilities should also be included in the contract.

Trial periods generally last 30 days and give the parents and nannies a real opportunity to ensure that they’re a good match.

While trial periods can benefit all nannies and families, they are especially important for parents who are considering a live-in nanny and who are not used to having a nonfamily member live in their home. A trial period gives the family time to determine if they can assimilate to having a live-in provider without committing to having one for a full year. Should the parents discover they aren’t able to assimilate; they can end or alter the working relationship during the trial period without penalty.  A nanny with a long commute who truly wants the job may take it to later find that a 30 minute commute is really a 2 hour one with morning traffic. A trial period allows a nanny to exit the job without penalty.

Trial periods should not be used as a replacement for interviews, reference checks and a thorough background screening. They should also not be used as temporary childcare while the parents continue their nanny search. The trial period provides an opportunity for parents or nannies to gracefully exit the employment relationship should it not meet their expectations.

Given the nature of a nanny’s work, it is essential that the nanny and parents can work well together. Nannies and parents should carefully consider any employment arrangement and take the necessary steps to evaluate if they are a good match prior to commencing employment. In addition to a thorough screening process, working interviews can help parents and nannies make educated employment decisions. Trial periods provide nannies and parents with an opportunity to exit the work agreement should the work environment and situation be less than expected.


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