A critical piece of the nanny hiring process is the in-person interview. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate your candidates in a number of areas including communication skills, ability to mesh with your family, and child caregiving talents.
Ideally, you’ve had phone conversations with your top applicants and narrowed down the candidate pool to a handful who will be interviewed.
But what’s the best way to conduct a nanny interview?
Here are some tips to get the most out of your interviews:
- Ask open-ended questions to create more of a dialogue between you and your candidate rather than a strict Q&A.
- Use a prepared list of interview questions to help keep the discussion on track and ensure that all topics are covered.
- Structure your interview the same way for all candidates. That way you’re comparing the same answers for all potential nannies.
- Encourage your candidate to ask questions during the interview. Again, this helps with creating a dialogue. Or save some time at the end of the meeting for your potential nanny to ask their questions.
- Be prepared. Experienced nannies will likely be ready with questions about job details and your family. They’re evaluating you just as much as you’re assessing them.
- Plan to meet with your candidates without your children being present to help both you and your potential nanny focus on the interview
- Introduce your children to the candidate at the end of the interview if you’d like
Also, check the labor laws in your state. There may be some questions you can’t ask. For example, in New York State and other states and cities, you are prohibited from inquiring about a candidate’s salary history.
In general, even though it may not be illegal for an employer hiring just one worker, you may want to avoid questions about a candidate’s age, race, ethnic background, religious views, sexual orientation, marital status, disability or arrest record.
Topics to cover include:
- Employment details and job description
- Being a nanny
- Experience, education, trainings, and skills
- Childcare philosophy and approach
- Discipline style
- Learning and development activities
- Medical emergencies and other scenarios
- Food and meal preparation
- Household chores
- Transportation and logistics
Let’s go through each of these areas with suggested questions for each topic.
Employment details and job description
Review details of the job including start date, schedule, duties and responsibilities, routines, hours, and ages of your children. Go over the expectations of the position so everyone is on the same page and give your candidate an opportunity to ask questions. Also, be upfront about your family requirements including religious or cultural practices, and dietary restrictions as well as anything unique about your children such as special needs, medications, and allergies.
- Does this schedule work for you? Will you have any trouble arriving on time in the morning?
- Would you be available if we occasionally needed you to stay late?
- We have a pet. Are you fine with having a pet in the house? Are you allergic?
- Besides childcare, we would like you to prepare meals for the children and perform light housework (cleaning up from your day). Are you ok with that?
- We would like you to take our children to the park and playground or play with them outside in our yard when the weather is nice. Are you agreeable to the physical demands of the position?
Being a nanny
Your interview should be like a naturally flowing conversation. Ask some general background questions about being a nanny that should be easy to answer and get both of you comfortable.
- How would you describe your personality?
- How long have you been a nanny?
- What made you choose this field of work?
- What do you think are the qualities of an exceptional nanny?
- What do you enjoy most about being a nanny and caring for children?
- What are your strengths as a nanny?
- What do you find most challenging?
- What other childcare experiences do have?
- What other life or work experiences have helped you become a better nanny?
- What would your role as a nanny be in our family?
- What are you looking for in a nanny job?
Experience, education, credentials, and training
You may be aware of their background and credentials as you reviewed resumes. It’s good to go over this again and confirm what type of experiences they’re bringing to your job.
- Tell me about your previous nanny and childcare positions.
- What are the ages of children you’ve cared for in previous jobs?
- What is your experience in caring for children of the same age as mine?
- What were some of the things you liked/disliked about previous positions?
- Do you have CPR and/or first aid training?
- What types of childcare classes or courses have you taken?
- What do you do to develop your childcare knowledge and skills?
- What is your educational background?
- Do you have any special skills like fluency in a language other than English? Or do you play an instrument or like to paint?
- Do you know how to swim?
- Are you experienced in potty training? (if applicable)
- What past childcare experience are you most proud of and why?
Childcare philosophy and approach
You’ll want to understand how a prospective nanny will care for your children. Your candidate’s approach doesn’t have to exactly match yours but should be compatible.
- How would you plan a typical day? What would a typical day be like for my children?
- How much structure do you build into your day?
- What types of activities do you enjoy with children? What about rainy day fun?
- What types of activities do you find engaging for newborns, infants and/or toddlers?
- How will you help my children learn?
- How do you work with parents to help raise their children?
- In view of our children’s ages what areas of development would you be concentrating on and what sort of activities would be suitable?
- What types of books do you think would be appropriate for our children?
- How do you feel about children watching television or screen time in general?
- Will you assist with homework? (if applicable)
As with a candidate’s childcare philosophy, you’ll want to be sure their discipline style aligns with your approach.
- What are your views on disciplining children?
- Tell me of a time when you needed to discipline a child. What prompted your action and what did you do?
- My toddler throws a temper tantrum in public. How do you respond?
- How do you introduce/emphasize good manners with children?
- My infant keeps pulling your hair after you’ve gently indicated to them “no” and to stop. What do you do?
Medical emergencies and other scenarios
Find out how will your candidate handle situations that require quick thinking, immediate response, and thoughtful communication. Talk about scenarios your prospective nanny may find themselves with your children. You may also want to mention your house rules on the nanny having friends or other nannies visit, smoking, phone use while driving, etc.
- Has a child in your care ever needed medical attention? What happened and how did you respond?
- Have you ever had to react during an emergency (medical or otherwise) while on the job? What did you do?
- What would you do if a child locked themselves inside a car?
- A baby in your care is crying uncontrollably. What do you do?
- What would you do if my child had a fever?
- An older child is talking back to you, not listening or showing disrespect. How do handle it?
- How do you deal with a toddler who doesn’t want to go down for a nap?
- How would you address my child’s behavioral, educational or other situation with me?
- What was your toughest day as a caregiver? What did you learn from it?
- How do handle negative work situations?
- Your friend drops by while you’re caring for my children for a non-work related matter. What do you do?
Food and meal preparation
If you expect your nanny to prepare meals or snacks for your children, you’ll want to make sure they will provide appropriate foods for the ages of your children and meals with balanced nutrition.
- What would you prepare for breakfast/lunch/dinner for my pre-schooler?
- What is your approach to planning meals and/or menus?
- What are appropriate snacks for children?
- Are you experienced in preparing bottles for a baby and adhering to a feeding schedule? (if applicable)
- Have you ever weaned a baby onto solid food? (if applicable)
Take a few moments to talk about your nanny’s life outside of work.
- What kind of things do you like doing when you are off work?
- What are your hobbies?
- What interests do you have outside of childcare?
Transportation and logistics
Review your expectations on punctuality and transporting your children – either using a family car or their own vehicle.
- Do you have a reasonable morning commute? How do you plan on getting to work? Will there be issues of arriving on time?
- We’ll provide a family car for transporting our children. Do you have a valid driver’s license, and will you be comfortable driving with children in the car?
- You’ll need to drive your own car when transporting our children. We’ll provide mileage reimbursement. Has your car been inspected recently? Do you have adequate insurance?
After the interview
After your interviews, if you’ve narrowed your choices to one candidate you can move forward with a background check and calling references. You could set up a time when your potential nanny would meet your children. You may also want to set up a nanny trial to your candidate “in action.” Both are opportunities to confirm you have made the right choice or may need to look at other applicants.
You could also discuss wages and benefits during the interview or follow up with the candidate on those details if you’re interested in hiring them for the job.
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