When you’ve decided on the nanny you would like to hire or have narrowed your choices down to two or three candidates, you may want to conduct a nanny trial period. It could be for a day or longer but you’ll want to see a potential hire “in action” before making an offer.
Seeing a prospective caregiver in your home and interacting with your children will provide valuable information that you may not have gotten from resumes, interviews or references.
A nanny trial will help you confirm that you’re hiring a competent, loving caregiver that meshes with your family and fits your children’s needs. If it works out, then the transition from trial to “on-the-job” just got a little easier since they’re already familiar with your home and children.
Or it could show that the caregiver you wish to bring onboard isn’t up for the job.
It’s better the figure out if your candidate is right for the position before the start of employment. If they’re hired and don’t work out, you’re back to the drawing board and have wasted a lot of time and effort on the wrong caregiver.
A nanny trial is also an opportunity for your candidate to evaluate you and your family. They could decide that it may not work out for whatever reason and decline to move forward. Again, better to find out that it might not be a good fit during a trial then after the hire.
With all that in mind, here’s how you can conduct a successful nanny trial.
How long should a nanny trial last
If, after initial interviews, you’ve narrowed down your candidates to a single applicant, you can likely set up a trial period of a day or two to as long as an entire week.
If you’re deciding between two or three candidates, then you may want to bring them in each for a day or two. Sometimes this is called a working interview.
Once you’ve eliminated all but one prospect, then you can bring that person back for a longer trial period if needed.
With some caregivers, you’ll know right away that they’re not a good fit. In those cases, you can cut the trial short. There is no need to waste everyone’s time.
And with others, it may take a little longer to decide. A candidate may have a great resume and interview well but not meet your expectations during the trial.
How to pay a candidate
You should agree ahead of time with your prospective caregivers on an hourly rate of pay for the trial period. The rate should be close to what you’ll offer if they decide to take your job. Candidates should be paid for all hours they’re “working” during the trial.
How to prepare
Besides deciding on the length of the trial and rate of pay, you and your prospective caregiver should also align on expectations. There should be no surprises for your candidate. That may reflect poorly on you and your prospect may be hesitant to move forward if offered the job. Provide as much detail as possible to what your caregiver will be doing during the trial and what you’ll be observing. They should know if they’ll be driving the kids to activities, doing light housework, preparing meals, or expected to do arts and crafts or other activities with your children.
Prepare your children as well. Let them know that someone new is coming over to play with them. Help get them as comfortable and relaxed as possible before the nanny trial.
What to do during a nanny trial
A nanny trial introduces your caregiver to your home and family members and familiarizes them with your schedule. It should mirror a typical day in your household that your nanny would expect to experience when “on the job.” You want to see how they can handle a “day in the life” of your family.
After you review daily schedules, safety procedures, house rules, and other instructions, your candidate should take the lead in caring for your children. You can be in the home to observe but you’ll want to be in the background. Give your prospective caregiver some space. This provides your candidate with a chance to connect one-on-one with your children. By hovering, you may make your candidate more nervous than they may already be.
It also allows you to get out of the way and prep dinner or do some laundry or even run errands.
If you’re comfortable with your candidate, have them take your children on activities. You could accompany them on a trip to see how your nanny drives, understands car safety with children and manages your kids in a public setting.
Or you can leave the house for a period of time and evaluate how your home seems when you get back. How does your prospective caregiver seem? Are they in control? How are your children? Do they seem safe and content? What’s the mood of the situation?
Keep a notebook with you throughout the trial to capture your observations both positive and negative. These will be valuable to you as you review the day and assess your candidates. Your notes could also be helpful for your partner or spouse who may not have been able to be part of the trial day.
At the end of each day of the trial period, take 10 to 15 minutes to just talk with your candidate. The children shouldn’t be present, so you’re not distracted. Ask questions about the day and focus on what’s important to you. Let your candidate also ask questions. This will help clear up any confusion or misunderstandings.
What to look for in your caregiver
During the trial you should get a sense that your nanny will fit comfortably with your home life, interacts well with your children and has the skills and awareness you desire in someone caring for your children.
What is their caregiving style? Do they have nurturing skills? What is their temperament? How do they manage their time? How did they put your child down for a nap?
Try not to be overly critical – your prospective caregivers won’t be perfect. Maybe there are areas where they needed more direction or, with time, will become a little easier for them. But also, don’t dismiss any red flags or major concerns that come up during the trial.
If they’re old enough, you may also want to get your children’s feedback. They’re not going to make the final decision but they could provide some insights that you may have missed.
Review your job description. Were the qualities you want in a caregiver evident during the trial? Did they meet your expectations?
Even with your notes and observations, you may need to just listen to your gut. If there seems to be something not quite right with a candidate, you may need to move on even if they looked good on paper or handled themselves well during the trial. Your nanny is going to be caring for your most loved possession and you need to be 100% certain they’re the right person for the job.
A final step in the hiring process
If your candidate works out, great! Make an offer of employment. But even if a candidate knocks it out of the park during their trial, you’ll still want to conduct background checks and call references. A successful nanny trial doesn’t replace your due diligence on applicants.
If it doesn’t seem like a good fit, be as honest as possible and kind. Thank them for their time and share reasons why you don’t think it will work out. They may learn and grow from the experience. Always follow up, whether you tell them at the end of the trial or contact them a few days later. Don’t avoid closing the loop with candidates you’re rejecting.
GTM can help
Once your caregiver accepts an offer of employment, you’ll want to make sure you pay them accurately and follow all household employment tax, wage, and labor laws. GTM Payroll Services provides an easy way to be compliant, pay your employee, and handle tax responsibilities. All without the risks, hassles, and worries of trying to do it yourself. Call (800) 929-9213 for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a household employment expert.
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