finding and interviewing a nanny.

I am going back to work in a few weeks which means that Simon is going to be hanging out with a nanny 4 days a week. Although I am incredibly bummed that I won’t be with him all day, I am really confident in our nanny and am excited that he’ll be in such capable hands.

We are lucky that we live a few blocks from my brother and sister-in-law (A+C), so we’ll be doing a nanny share with them. That means that Simon gets to hang out with his cousin all day – win, win.

A+C had a nanny last year, but for personal reasons they decided to part ways. That meant that our search was from scratch when Simon was added to the mix.

We used both online resources and a nanny agency to find candidates. I was totally against the online resource initially – this isn’t a date, it’s taking care of my helpless infant, but we actually found a number of qualified candidates and ended up hiring our nanny from there. We did hire a nanny agency to conduct a detailed background check since that seemed to be the major difference (aside from leg work) between online and agency.

J and I had never done a nanny search before and were pretty nervous about the process, knowing that we wanted to find the absolute best person possible to interact with our son all day. Our guard was up and our expectations were high.

We interviewed a few nannies and when we met the one that we actually hired we knew right away that she was a right fit for both of our families. In fact, J and I were so shocked that we found her so quickly that we wanted to do a follow-up interview just to be sure – maybe the first one was a fluke. Luckily, it wasn’t.

J and I had a long list of interview questions that we wanted strong answers to and criteria that we wanted met. We did a good bit of research before we actually started interviewing to understand what we should look for in a nanny, discuss what was important to us, and formulate the questions that we wanted to ask.

I have summarized a list of our criteria and the interview questions that we used, below. In addition, I also asked our nanny a few questions to get her perspective on the whole process.

If you’re in the midst of searching for a nanny, I hope this helps. It’s a totally nerve wrecking process – my advice is to know what you want / need for your family and go with your gut. You’ll know pretty quickly whether you can see the person that you’re interviewing taking care of your children. We interviewed several people who were technically probably great nannies, but it just wasn’t a right fit, for us.

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M+J Nanny Criteria:

  • Thorough background check (more than just ID check)
  • CPR, First Aid, etc certified
  • Put together / professional appearance
  • Has previous nanny experience – preferably with more than one family and preferably with similar aged kids
  • Interested in child development (e.g. fine motor skills, reading, talking, etc.)
  • Strong language skills
  • Supports a no screen time policy during the day (aka, can entertain the kids without TV)
  • Willing to do arts & crafts / rainy day activities / step outside the box
  • Takes the kids on daily “extra curricular activities” – beach, park, library, zoo, walks, etc.
  • Willing to stick to our schedule for naps / feeding
  • Chemistry of nanny / us
  • Availability to work our desired schedule

 

Nanny Questions:

Nanny General:

  • How long have you been a nanny?
  • How old were the other children you cared for?
  • What do you like about being a nanny?
  • Why did you leave your last family?
  • Do you have any formal early childhood development or childcare training?
  • Is this your full-time profession? Future aspirations?
  • Describe your ideal working conditions / family…
  • What’s been your biggest challenge as a nanny?
  • What do children like best about you?
  • What do adults like best about you?
  • Why do you think that you are a great nanny?
  • What are some of the rules you’ve followed in other households that you think worked well?
  • Which rules haven’t worked for you?
  • Do you smoke? Do drugs? Drink?
  • Are you willing to do light chores while our baby is sleeping? Which ones?
  • Do you have any personal responsibilities or health issues that could interfere with a regular work schedule?
  • What is your expectation of vacation / time off?
  • Are you available to do some babysitting? What would you charge for one child to babysit in the evening?
  • What is your salary range?
  • What is your expectation of pay / pay increases?
  • How do you discipline a child?
  • Can you tell me about a time that you had to discipline a child and how you handled it?
  • What will you do if a child gets sick while in your care?
  • How will you handle an emergency with the children?
  • How do you take breaks / decompress during the day? What do you do?
  • How do you check on children during naps and other play?

Logistics:

  • Where do you live and how will you get to work?
  • Do you drive? If yes, do you have a well-maintained vehicle? Will you be driving the children?
  • We sometimes work from home – how will you work around this?
  • Will you take the children on public transportation? What kind and how often?

Taking care of two…

  • How will you manage the schedule of an almost 2-year-old and an infant?
  • What sorts of activities will you do with the kids each day?
  • What are your favorite activities to do with children this age?
  • What do you do when 2 children are crying / need your attention at once?

 

Ask the nanny – the other side:

Q: What questions do you expect to get asked during an interview?

A: I always get asked about CPR and First Aid certifications. Those to me are no brainers and I wouldn’t hire a nanny without them. 

Q: What should we ask you in an interview?

A: I personally like it when I am given scenario type questions – like what would you do if X… set the stage for the nanny so they can understand some of the potential scenarios they could be in and you can get an idea for how they would think on their feet. I also really appreciate when people ask me what hours I can / want to work. I don’t like it when a family assumes that I can be available 24×7 – it’s nice when I can see that they respect my personal life.

Q: What do you look for in a potential family?

A: Some obvious stuff, but also humor. Just like I look for humor in my other relationships I think that it’s important that I can laugh with the families that I am working with. Just like I wouldn’t date someone who I don’t mesh with , I won’t work with a family that I don’t mesh with.

Q: What advice do you have for families looking for a new nanny?

A: Look at nanny profiles and go with one that you get a good feeling from. If you don’t like their profile, if they don’t seem special, don’t waste either of your time. Also, the nanny shouldn’t inflict their personal interests on your children. Good nannies are interested in following or building on what the parents already do with their children, especially in terms of discipline and house rules.

Are there questions that you would ask that aren’t on our list?

If you’re a nanny, what is the interview process like from your perspective?

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0 thoughts on “finding and interviewing a nanny.

  1. I was a nanny once! The children were 16 and 12, and the parents worked out of town 4 days a week. I was “technically” their parent Sunday-Thursday after I sent them off to school. I was 23, so this was TOUGH. Having no children of my own and suddenly I was in charge of 2 (almost) teenagers?!- yikes! It was a learning experience, for sure. The parents really trusted me because I came from a healthcare background and had prior childcare experience. Also, her children were old enough to know right from wrong and were pretty independent so this is much different than taking care of an infant. I was really only there to make sure homework and chores were done, they weren’t fighting/trying to kill each other like siblings of that age do, and they had food in their bellies. They said I was like their big sister. In the end it didn’t work out, because unlike your nanny, I couldn’t see eye to eye with their parenting skills. They let their 16 year old smoke cigarettes and drink and I just couldn’t agree with that. Not when he was my responsibility and I could get in trouble should he be caught under my care. Anyway…this was long, but I had to share. Wishing you guys all the best with your nanny!! 🙂