Choosing a nanny is one of the most important things that you'll do as a parent. After all, you want your little one to be watched by someone who you trust – as well as someone with all of the necessary skills to soothe temper tantrums and take control in case of an emergency.
A nanny is more than just someone who just watches your child. If you select the right one, they'll be like a member of your family. To that end, you need to ask the right questions while interviewing a nanny, just to make sure that you wind up hiring the very best fit for your family. That’s why Paperclip is here to help.
Ready to begin your nanny interview journey? Here are some questions to ask – and why you should ask them.
Education and Training
The first set of questions that you need to ask pertains to education and training. You need a nanny that is well-qualified for the job, and many potential ones, especially if you choose to use a nanny agency, will have degrees in things like early childhood development. You might also find a few candidates that are currently in school.
Before you ask these questions, you need to determine exactly what educational levels and training courses that you want your child's nanny to have.
Where Did You Go to School and What Degrees Do You Have?
Many nannies have a college degree or are currently in the process of getting one. However, you might come across a candidate with many years of experience who has only a high school diploma. If this is the case, then treat those years of experience as if they had gone to college, since they've learned quite a bit on the job.
Going beyond that, if you want a nanny that has very specific credentials, such as being fluent in a foreign language or having a solid aptitude in math – all things that you hope your child will learn as well, you'll need to ask about their college major and any specific degrees and certificates that they obtained while in school that will help them meet your unique needs.
What Kind of Training Do You Have?
Many nannies have additional training on top of their official degrees. For example, they may be a certified yogi (which could come in handy if you want to do some mother-baby yoga) or have a first aid certification that includes CPR. This means that they know what they're doing when your child hurts themselves or has an accident.
Asking about this extra training is perfectly fine, and it shows just how dedicated to the job your interviewee really is. Those who want to be better nannies will have taken the time to gain extra certificates in various related topics, as it will help them do their job better. Keep in mind, though, that you may have to pay a bit more for a nanny with extra schooling.
In addition to questions about training and education, you'll need to ask your potential nanny about their past employment. Yes, that information will be on their resume, but it's crucial to get the details beyond that to show just what they did in previous positions and what types of situations they had to deal with.
Can You Describe Your Past Work as a Nanny?
A nanny who has plenty of experience will be able to easily answer this question. They might talk about the children that they watched, including their ages, and spend some time discussing their daily activities.
This will show just how much experience the nanny candidate has and what they did with the children in their care. As they're answering, pay attention to the language that they use and how they describe what they did, as this will show just how attached they became to their charges. You want a nanny who treats your child as if it is their own, as that means they will take better care of them.
Why Did You Leave Your Previous Job?
This is a very important question to ask. In most cases, the response is something like "the child grew up/a parent stopped working/the family didn't need me anymore." In others, the family or the nanny might have moved away, leaving the nanny looking for more work.
There are numerous scenarios here, and you'll need to check with that previous family to verify their story. That leads to one more thing: always check their references to ensure that they are telling the truth and aren't hiding anything from you. If hired, they will be taking care of your most precious cargo, so you don’t want any surprises.
Working with Children in Various Scenarios
Another round of questioning involves specific scenarios. You need a nanny who is good under pressure, not one who will panic in an emergency situation. By asking these questions, you'll be able to gauge their responses and really get a feel for who they are and if they are trustworthy enough to take good care of your child.
If a Child Under Your Care Were Choking, What Would You Do?
This is just an example question of something that could happen that would be deemed an emergency. Of course, the right response would be, "I would do the Heimlich maneuver, call 911, and then call you – the parent."
There are many other situations that can arise, such as "what would you do if the child that you're watching disappears at the park?" Or "what happens if a child breaks their leg?" Or "what would you do in case our home catches on fire?" Knowing the right responses to these questions shows just how prepared your future nanny will be.
What Would You Put in a Diaper Bag?
Speaking of preparations, a good nanny needs to be prepared for just about anything, and since they'll be out and about with your child, taking them to the playground or park, they need to have all of the right supplies on hand.
By asking about what they would put in a diaper bag, you're asking them to prove their experience and preparation skills. Those who are unable to answer this question obviously haven't been around a lot of infants or toddlers.
Job Related Questions
There are many questions related to the job that you need to ask your potential candidates. For example, you'll need to find out what their future plans are, especially since you're looking for a nanny who will be there as your child grows. That bond is important.
Also, you have to ask about work hours and salary, as these are typical employer questions – and you need to know if your new nanny is affordable.
Are You Able to Make a Long-Term Commitment?
While things happen out of someone's control, it's important to find a nanny that can make the right kind of commitment to your family. You don't want to hire someone only to have them move out of state two months later, because that move was planned before you hired them, and they didn't say anything. By asking about the type of commitment that they are able to make, you'll be able to gauge their long-term plans.
What Kind of Hours and Salary Are You Looking For?
Finding a nanny that fits in with your family personality-wise is one thing. Finding one who is affordable and who can work the hours that you need them to is a whole other story.
There's nothing worse than interviewing that perfect nanny only to find that they require a salary that is $5 more an hour above your budget or finding one who can only work certain hours due to other commitments, like school. Going over all of this in the interview clears things up nicely.
Things to Avoid Asking
On top of the many questions that you need to ask, there are a number of things that you simply shouldn't bring up. For example, inquiries about age, sexual orientation, race, and religion cannot be asked, as that will violate labor laws that are intended to prevent discrimination.
You also can't ask anything about the potential nanny's family, even if you're worried that their family obligations may interfere with the job. This is something that you would have to discuss after you have chosen to hire the person that you're interviewing.
One Last Note
You need to remember that as you're interviewing candidates to find that perfect nanny for your family, you're technically interviewing potential employees. That’s right - you're about to become an employer, even if you go through a nanny agency. This means that you'll need to plan out things like work hours, time off, sick days, vacations, and more, as your nanny won't be on duty 24/7, and you need to follow the labor laws of the country and state that you're in.
Asking the right questions when you’re interviewing potential nannies is definitely a critical part of the process. So, think about what’s important to you (and the wellbeing of your child) and ask the pointed questions that you want answers to. By doing so, you’re sure to find a nanny who will care for your child as you do.