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The Best Interview Questions To Ask A Potential Nanny

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I’ve done a few posts about qualities I look for in a potential nanny. However, if you’re interviewing a nanny for the first time, it can’t be daunting to know where to start and what you should ask to elicit the best responses. Below I’ve listed out some of my favorite questions to ask potential candidates. Remember to try to keep the conversation flowing and ask for clarification on any points you don’t understand. Also, be sure to look out for this list of red flags, as those should immediately be of concern. Do other parents have any other questions they think are good to ask? Share with me in the comments!

  • How did you become a nanny? What made you decide to want to be one and how did you get started?
  • Why do you think you’re right for our family?
  • What do you like about being a nanny?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What is your family like? What is your living situation like?
  • How do you think past employers would describe you?
  • What are your safety and first aid qualifications?
  • What would you do in case of an emergency?
  • What age children are you most comfortable working with? What are your experiences with different ages and multiple children at a time?
  • How do you like to communicate throughout the day? Are you open to recording simple notes in a daily log?
  • How would you describe your style of working with kids? Are you hands on? More authoritative?
  • What is your general childcare philosophy?
  • What are your thoughts and strategies on discipline?
  • How would you handle _______ situation? (Ask them to guide you through a few scenarios. For example, how would you handle a temper tantrum in the middle of a crowded store?)
  • What are your expectations for this job as compared to your last one?
  • What do you know about the area? Do you know people in the area? Do you feel comfortable getting around the neighborhood and could find activities throughout the day for children?
  • Can you tell me the best child you ever took care of and then one whose behavior wasn’t so great?
  • Have there been certain parenting styles you feel you can’t work well with?
  • What have been your specific duties at previous jobs? What have you done in terms of errands and housework? Do you feel comfortable making playdates for the kids? Are there things you have been asked to do previously that you don’t feel comfortable with?
  • What are you looking for in a potential employer?
  • If you were hiring a nanny for your child, what would be the most important things you would look for?
  • What is your availability like? How flexible is your schedule? Are you OK with travel?
  • How will you handle transportation to and from work? Are you someone who can consistently be on time? Do you have any special circumstances or illnesses or ongoing family issues that you feel I should know about?
  • How do you feel about spending the night occasionally? How would you feel about switching the occasional night for other days off?
  • Would you sign a confidentiality agreement?
  • How have you typically been paid – on or off the books – and how would you prefer to be paid?
  • What are you salary expectations and what are you comfortable with in terms of hours per week and weeks per year?
  • Why do you want this job? (This is a good last question)

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.

10 Warning Signs To Look Out For When Interviewing A Nanny

All interviews are going to be a little bit different depending on your style of communication, what you are looking for and the candidates, but there are some consistencies all interviews with a potential childcare provider should follow. First and foremost, it’s important the person you are interviewing can form a connection with your child. It’s also extremely important that you are able to communicate easily with the person you are interviewing and you feel that person is communicating openly and honestly, as well.

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In another blog, I’ll share some of my favorite questions to ask on an interview and what to look out for, but today I wanted to share what you SHOULDN’T see. Here are 10 Major Warning Signs:

  1. Being Late

When people are late to interviews it shows a total disregard for time management and a lack of respect for your time. If an interviewee is late before she even has a job, what will she do five months from now?

  1. No interaction with your child

It’s very important the person you are interviewing makes a conscious effort to talk to/interact with your child. If your child is a toddler, you want someone to get down at eye level and really attempt to make a connection. You need to know that the person you are interviewing understands that this is the essence of the job – and more important than anything that could possibly be answered with a verbal response.

  1. No clear examples from previous employers

You should ask the person you are interviewing for previous experiences handling difficult situations or times when previous jobs were challenging, rewarding, etc. If you feel the person you are interviewing is giving vague, cookie-cutter answers, or trying to avoid talking previous employment altogether, this could be an indication of a lack of experience or something at the previous job ending badly.

  1. Unable to articulate a clear schedule

You’ll want to ask potential candidates about their flexibility and schedules. For example, do they take classes? Do they have families of their own? Do they have some other type of employment? Do they travel a lot? It’s important to get a sense of how much time someone can actually dedicate to the job and if your family’s schedule can be a priority. If you are interviewing someone and she doesn’t seem to know where she’ll be in school in three months or if she will need to take time off for family issues, you want to make sure you understand the risks involved.

  1. Too much concern with salary and benefits

While this is something that should definitely be discussed and agreed upon (nanny contract) before someone begins working for you, it’s a major red flag if this gets brought up too soon in the interview process. It’s fine to discuss benefits and basic salary, but if it seems the person you’re interviewing is shopping around for the best deal and is totally consumed with the money above all else, it’s a major warning sign.

  1. Extreme nervousness

It’s understandable someone might be nervous on an interview, but you want to get the sense the person you are interviewing can be confident in stressful situations. Particularly if someone seems nervous around your child, you should take pause. Try to notice if any part of the interview, or any question in particular, seems to make the person uncomfortable. This could be a sign of trying to hide something or a lack of experience.

  1. A philosophy that contradicts your own

You’ll want the people you interview to articulate a clear childcare philosophy. This doesn’t have to be advanced, but it’s important to gauge whether someone can enforce and aid you in caring for your child in a way that makes you comfortable. You’ll want to ask about punishment and reward systems, for example, to make sure you are on the same page.

  1. Lack of experience

In general, a lack of experience should be fairly obvious just from a resume, but you’ll also want to make sure someone’s answers back up what the resume says. Ask for lots of concrete examples and make sure the person you are interviewing has experience with children who are specifically your child’s/children’s age.

  1. Off-putting personality

At the end of the day, there is a component of the interview that involves a “gut instinct.” Sometimes, you just won’t think your personality matches with the person you are interviewing. Maybe the person has a sense of humor that makes you uneasy. Be especially tuned in to how you feel talking and being in a room with this person. Is it easy to hold a conversation? Could you see yourself coming in after a long day at work and interacting with this person on a daily basis?

  1. Bad or no questions

Finally, if a potential nanny doesn’t ask you any questions, that’s reason for concern. It’s important for candidates to show an interest in your child, in your schedule, in your rules and philosophy and in your previous experience with nannies. One of the easiest ways to tell how much experience and interest in the position someone has is by how advanced and thought-out the questions are that you get asked. If someone asks a question you clearly already answered, that’s also a warning sign for lack of listening skills.

If you’re interested in more information about our services as they relate to your nanny, check out our nanny consulting page or contact us today.