Quite often as parents, we find ourselves at crossroads where we have to make difficult decisions such as trusting a nanny to take care of the kids. For most working parents, this is a necessity and not a luxury. Finding a suitable person s no doubt a herculean task. And keeping the right person is also a major challenge. There’s always that uncertainty, anxiety and the fear of the possibility of going through the tedious process sometimes soon.
Vital to finding the right person for the job is the interview session with the candidates / potential nanny. This is important because you have such a short period to meet with the person you will be inviting to your home either as a live-in or live-out employee, the person you’ll be trusting with your home and your most valuable little people.
So you’ve vetted your list of nanny applicants, you’ve picked your favorites, and you’ve scheduled the interviews. Now what? It’s time to draft up your question list so that you cover all your bases and find the best nanny for your family.
Knowing what questions to ask , how to structure the questions and how to get the correct answers are therefore very important. I found a compilation of questions for parents on Tinies which seem to cover most relevant points, and some really useful tips on interviewing nannies; I hope they will be helpful.
Nanny Interview Tips
Whilst it’s important to see how the nanny interacts with your children, it may not be advisable to have them present for the whole interview as it could be distracting.
In addition, to introduce the children to all the candidates may be both confusing and unsettling for the children. So, if possible plan to interview potential nannies either without your children being present or with the children being introduced to the nanny briefly at the end of the interview.
If you are interested in hiring the nanny, you can then arrange a more informal second interview so that the children can spend some time with her to ensure that you have made the right choice.
Interviewing potentially nannies
A nanny interview will normally take 45 minutes to 1 hour. A formal structure of the interview ensures that all the points are covered that you want to discuss.
This will make the interview fair and productive for both you and the nanny. However you should try to put the nanny at ease from the beginning as she will then be more responsive to your questions. Once you are both settled, explain how the interview is going to be structured so that the nanny knows what to expect.
Suggested interview structure:
Tell the nanny about your family and children
Tell the nanny about the position (see section below)
Ask the nanny to tell you about herself and what she is looking for in a job
Go through the nanny’s CV in detail, asking her to describe each childcare position (see section below)
Run through a list of questions relating to the nanny’s abilities as a child carer, her views on discipline, activities for the children etc, and questions relating to her own background (see section below)
Ask the nanny if she has any specific questions.
Describing the available nanny position
You will need to describe the position that you are offering in detail. Set out below is a suggested list of issues that should be covered:
Hours of work
Duties and responsibilities, relating to both the children and around the house. In particular if you require something more than nursery duties (e.g. family shopping, laundry etc) this should be mentioned
Routines that you would like kept – e.g. swimming lessons, playgroups etc
Holidays – in particular discuss whether you require her to take some of her holiday when you take some of your holiday
House rules such as nannies visiting, boyfriends visiting, use of phone etc
If it is a live in position, describe and show the nanny the accommodation. Also talk about when she can use the kitchen and the other communal areas of the house, and what meals will be provided, if any
Use of car (if applicable)
Whether she will be required to prepare all the children’s meals and whether there are specific dietary requirements
Any medical issues relating to the children of which the nanny should be aware.
Suggested nanny interview questions
Try to use open-ended questions that will prompt for informative answers, such as questions starting with What? When? Why? How? Where? Or tell me about… This will avoid just getting Yes and No answers.
The following are some questions you may wish to consider asking. This is by no means a definitive list and is not set out in any particular order of priority:
Being a nanny
Why did you choose a nannying career?
What do you think are the qualities needed to be a good nanny?
What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
What do you enjoy least about being a nanny?
Education and development activities
In view of our children’s ages what areas of development would you be concentrating on and what sort of activities would be suitable?
How would you plan a typical day?
What are your favourite activities with children?
How would you occupy our children during the day?
What kind of equipment or materials would you need?
Have you had experience of potty training and how do you go about potty training children (if applicable)?
What kind of food would you cook for our children?
How would you think to approach planning menus and buying the food?
If appropriate: Have you prepared a baby’s bottle before? Used a sterilizer?
Weaned a baby onto solid food?
What would you do with a child that threw a tantrum in the middle of a shop?
How do you introduce good manners to children?
(Discipline is an area that needs to be discussed up front to avoid any differences of opinion on how the children should be disciplined – as the parent you should be telling the nanny what you find acceptable or unacceptable in terms of disciplining your children)
Reading and television
What sort of books do you think would be appropriate for our children?
How often would you use the library?
How do you feel about children watching television?
Coping with an emergency
e.g. What would you do if a young child locked themselves inside the car?
What would you do if a child was choking?
When did you last update your first aid training?
How is your time keeping?
How many days sick leave have you had in the last year?
Personal family questions
Are you from a big family?
Where does your family come from?
Have you got a partner? What does he do for a living?
If it is a live in position, how is the nanny planning on meeting up with her partner – did she intend for him to stay or will she be going away at weekends?
More Nanny Interview Tips
Going through the nanny’s CV
It is obviously important to ask the nanny to describe her previous childcare positions. Working through her previous work experience you may consider asking the following questions in relation to each position:
How did you spend your days with the children?
Was it a sole charge position or were their elements of sole charge?
Why did you leave?
What did you enjoy most about the job?
What did you least enjoy about the job?
You should also read through the nanny’s written references, and raise any questions you may have in relation to those references.
If the nanny has childcare qualifications, ask her to describe the course – how long it was for, whether she studied full time or part time, and what the course covered. In particular ask whether it involved her doing work experience and placements either with families or in nurseries.
Questions from the nanny
Encourage the nanny to ask questions about you and the family set up, specific details about the jobs, routines, hours etc. Do not be surprised if nannies come armed with a list of questions to ask.
Bringing the nanny interview to a close
Once you are both satisfied that the interview is over and that you have covered everything, bring the interview to a close. You will need to let the nanny know exactly what the next steps are.
If you want to offer her the job it is worth making this clear now as she will undoubtedly be attending other interviews and you may lose the opportunity of employing her. If she does want to take up the position then you can arrange a separate time for her to come back and have an informal second interview with the children and discuss the nature of the contract together.
However if you are unsure and want to see other nannies, then tell her that you will be contacting her after the interview and that the if using an agency, that the agency will contact her to let her know the outcome.
If you wish to employ the nanny, then it is best to make an offer as soon as possible. Alternatively you may want to see other nannies in which case you can make arrangement with the agency or continue with your private search.
While this is focused on hiring nannies, I believe it can be adapted if you are interviewing other household staff such as housekeepers, cook, gardener, etcetera.
I hope this helps, and hope you get the perfect person for the job. I’m wishing you the best.