Whether you’ve found your potential nanny through an agency, a friend’s enthusiastic referral, or an online community like Care.com, it’s important to conduct a critical part of the hiring process—the interview. A nanny often works as a live-in care provider or is hired on a long-term basis; a comprehensive interview will help you determine if she’s the right nanny for your family.
Before you meet your potential nanny, conduct a preliminary phone interview. Be aware that it is very difficult to make a judgment about someone based solely on a phone call. Ask about her certifications, availability, and child care background. Outline the general requirements of the job, and ask if she’s interested in the position. If so, invite her to your home to conduct an in-person interview.
To prepare for the interview, write a list of questions that address the nanny’s certifications, skills, and experience. Ask about her hobbies, interests, pet peeves, and whether she follows a particular child care method or philosophy. Be sure to giver her the opportunity to interview you too. The nanny-family relationship can be very involved and information must flow in both directions.
An alternative to having this first meeting at your home is to invite your potential nanny to meet you at a local coffee shop or park. It’s a less stressful way to meet a new person. Also, it gives you the added benefit of being on neutral territory before you decide whether or not to invite this person to your home. Don’t forget, if this is a smart nanny, she’s probably thinking the same thing. If the meeting goes well, then invite her to your home to meet the children.
Interview questions and discussion should cover a wide range of categories to include:
- Prior Experience: Where has she worked before? Does she have any certifications?
- Caregiver scenarios: How does she handle emergencies? How does she generally descipline children?
- Specific Expectations: What would a typical day be like for your children? Does she feel comfortable driving them to activities?
- Feedback: Does she have any questions or concerns? Does she understand the job requirements?
- References and Background Checks: Ask the potential nanny for at least three references, and get her permission to conduct background checks on her criminal, driving, and credit histories.
You may want to offer the nanny a trial period of one to two weeks. This creates a way to end the relationship, on either side, if for some reason it just isn't working out. And, it’s OK if you think a nanny isn’t a good fit—even if she has excellent references, numerous certifications, and a friendly personality. What’s right for one family may not be right for another, and it’s important to trust your instincts and choose the right nanny for you.