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Good Advice for Interviewing Nannies

May 28, 2015 Nanny Background Checks, Resources, Tip Sheets, Uncategorized

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Whether you are hiring your nanny through an agency, or going it alone, there are certain steps you want to make sure you take properly. The first step is to make sure you give yourself plenty of time to locate good candidates. Give yourself some lead in time to consider and discuss your musts and your must nots. Hiring someone as integral to the family dynamic as a nanny will be is every bit as important as a large purchase- know in advance what elements you are not willing to compromise on- but always remember to leave plenty of room to adjust for the unforeseen.

Once you have a decent pool of potentials, gradually narrow them down, based upon your needs and their abilities, by a process of interviews. The idea is to not only fully understand the range of the nanny’s abilities, availability and adaptability- but to get a good feel for who the person is.

There are many good resources online and elsewhere that a family looking to hire can find lists of good interview questions and other advice on how to hire the best nanny for your family. The list below has been taken from a 2012 Huffington Post article by Helen Moon. This is a very comprehensive list of questions, and while there are certainly no hard and fast rules about how many questions must asked in any particular interview, it gives you a good idea of how relevant some things might be under certain circumstances. It can act as an excellent guide for determining those must and must nots, and provide direction for structuring your interviews.

The final step is that, at some point in the candidate narrowing process, it is critical that you run background checks on your best options (according to FCRA regulations, which can be found here) Obviously, you don’t want to run a background check on every person you interview, but it is recommended that you have about three candidates who fit your needs well enough, so that you have some room to compare histories and references prior to making a decision.

Questions About Being a Nanny

Why do you want to be a nanny or why did you choose to become a nanny?

What do you think the difference is between a babysitter and a nanny?

What qualities do you think are important in a nanny?

What kind of professional development in childcare do you have?

Do you have CPR certification or first aid training?

How is your driving record? Have you had any accidents and if so, please describe.

If our roles were reversed, what would you look for in hiring a nanny?

What appeals to you about taking care of children in their own home (vs. a day care center or your home)?

During the hours my children are in school, what do you consider your role and responsibilities to be?

How do you see a nanny’s role changing as the children get older?

What do you want from me as a potential employer? What are you looking for in an employer?

How are you at voicing your concerns about unexpected issues that may arise? Are you able to do this, or do you tend to defer to the parents?

How have you responded when a former boss has brought up unexpected issues
with you?

Can you give me some examples of unexpected issues that have come up in your previous jobs and how you and your former employer worked things out?

How would you feel if I brought up an issue with the children and I felt very strongly that I wanted it handled a certain way? In other words, if I couldn’t see a way to compromise on an issue, do you think you could work with that?

Are you willing to do occasional overnight stays with the children?

Are you willing to stay with the children for a week or more if we (the parents) go out of town?

How do you feel about having friends over during work time or overnights?

What do you see as a nanny’s responsibilities when traveling with the family?

How would you find ways to be helpful when traveling with children? What would you pack in a carry-on for children for a long plane flight?

Are you a member of any nanny associations?

When do you think it would be appropriate for a nanny to sleep during a child’s nap? To make personal phone calls during work?

Would you be willing to sign a confidentiality clause? What does confidentiality mean to you?

Questions About the Nanny’s Experience

Describe your childcare experiences and why they ended.

How many children have you cared for at a time in your previous positions?

What were the pros and cons to caring for different numbers of children?

What would your references say about you?

What were the best parts of your previous jobs?

What do you find to be the most challenging part of working with children?

What was your worst experience when caring for a child and how did you resolve it?

What was your worst experience with a family and how did you resolve it?

Can you tell me a time when you felt like you lost motivation in a job?

Can you tell me about the most difficult child/family/ parent you worked with?

Have you ever abused a child or been accused of abusing a child? If you were accused, how did you handle it? What was the outcome?

Have you ever had to handle an emergency? If so, what happened and what action did you take?

How many hours at a time are you used to caring for a child? What would be the maximum number of hours you could care for a child before needing a break?

How do you like to communicate with your employer about the child’s day? Do you use a log? Talk about the day in person? Make phone calls throughout the day?

What additional household responsibilities are you comfortable taking on as a nanny? For example: meal prep, laundry, cleaning, setting up appointments, pet care, etc.

Would you care for a sick child?

What would you do if a child made a real mess with diapers, vomiting, etc.?

How would you keep my child safe out in public?

How would you keep my child safe at home?

How do you handle stopping at the gas station, bank or convenience store for a quick errand when you have children in the car? What is your rule for the children being able to stay in the car?

Have you worked with other household staff before? Please describe some positives and negatives you’ve experienced working with household staff.

Have you ever been part of a nanny team? Please describe the pros and cons of that experience.

If you have guns in your household, ask this: Are you comfortable working in a household with guns? Do you know gun safety and are you able to shoot? If not, do you want to learn?

If you work at home, ask this: Have you ever worked for parents who work at home? Are you comfortable with that? What pros and cons do you see working for WAH parents?

Questions on the Nanny’s Views on Child Rearing and Discipline Style

In a nutshell, what is your overall child rearing philosophy?

What child development books/authors do you like?

What is your view on nutrition for children?

What is your general philosophy on etiquette for children?

What is your basic philosophy on discipline?

If you feel comfortable discussing, how were you disciplined as a child? What would you do (or did you do) differently with your own children?

What is your opinion on spanking?

How do you feel about imaginative play that includes the use of toy guns as props?

What are your thoughts about masturbation? How would you handle it if you noticed that my (insert age) was masturbating?

What would you do if my child bit another child? What would you do if my child bit you?

What would you do if my child hit or hurt another child? What would you do if my child hit or hurt you?

How would you handle it if my child lied to you?

What are your thoughts on sunscreen and protection from the sun for children?

Do you feel comfortable arranging play dates? How would you go about setting them up?

Age Group-Appropriate Questions

Newborn to age 1

How do you handle a crying baby?

What would you do if the baby won’t stop crying?

How long do you think a baby should be left to cry?

How long do you think a newborn should be left before being fed?

How long do you think a newborn should be held?

What about rocking to sleep?

What methods do you like to use to help a baby learn to sleep through the night?

Do you know baby massage?

What would you do to encourage the baby to bond to you?

Children 1 to 2 years old

What do you think is your primary responsibility to a child this age?

What activities would you engage in with a child this age?

How much television do you think is appropriate for this age? What kinds of shows?

What is your general philosophy on discipline at this age?

How would you handle the following: throwing things or tearing books.

If our child wanted to play/read/etc while you were cleaning up something, what would you do?

How would you handle a temper tantrum in a grocery store? In our home?

What is your philosophy on letting children explore their surroundings?

What would you do to encourage the child to bond to you?

Children 2 to 3 years old

What role should outdoor play and interaction with other toddlers have in a child’s day?

What types of educational activities would you engage a child this age in?

How much television do you think is appropriate for this age? What kinds of shows?

What indoor/rainy day activities would you engage a child this age in?

What is your general philosophy on discipline at this age?

How would you handle a temper tantrum in a grocery store? In our home?

How do you feel toilet training should be approached?

What would you do to encourage the child to bond to you?

Children 3 to 5 years old

What methods of limit setting or discipline do you find effective for this age?

What types of educational activities would you engage a child this age in?

What is your opinion on preschool for children this age?

If you are interested in homeschooling ask about it: What is your opinion on homeschooling?

What television shows do you feel are appropriate for this age child?

Are you willing to supervise playtime with other children in our home and/or take our child to gymnastics/activity groups, which may or may not require your active participation?

How would you handle it if you walked in on our 4-5yr old and a playmate playing without clothing on?

Children 5 to 12 years old

What are your feelings about outdoor play without direct supervision (i.e., the child is outside and the caregiver is in the house with a younger
child)?

Are you comfortable reviewing and assisting with homework?

Are you willing to supervise friends of our child who are invited to our home while you are in charge?

When children are in school, how many extra-curricular activities per week do you think is appropriate for them? What kinds of activities would you suggest for different age groups?

Personal Questions

How do you think your closest friends would describe you and your personality?

Tell me whatever you feel comfortable sharing about your childhood and your current relationship with your family.

What do you like to do in your free time?

What television shows do you enjoy watching?

What books do you enjoy reading?

What kind of music do you like?

What would you consider the ideal vacation?

Where would your dream place to live be?

Where have you traveled and what was one of your favorite places and why?

What kind of a housemate are you? (for live-in nannies)

Do you smoke, drink, use drugs, or swear a lot?

So… Your Final Question

Why are you interested in this job? (Asked again at the end. Because now the nanny knows the job and family and if she is still interested, she can really make her best case at this point.)

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