In my last post I covered the basics for starting your nanny search. In this post I’ll cover how to screen the candidates that respond to your ad to determine the best fit for your family.
In my own experience, I had quite a number of candidates respond to the ad I posted on care.com. I then had to figure out the best way to screen the candidates. In my ad, I asked the candidates to respond to the ad with some information about themselves and their experience. I was able to eliminate a few of the candidates based on their responses or lack thereof, narrowing the field of candidates I wanted to interview.
Next, I came up with a list of standard questions to ask each of the candidates. I scoured the Internet and picked the brains of friends that had interviewed nannies to work with their families. Again, I would urge you to be honest and up-front about your expectations and thorough in your screening to save yourself the work of repeating the process. Remember to build extra time into your schedule to account for multiple interviews and reference checks. Coordinating schedules for interviews and synching up with references often takes longer than anticipated. In the interest of safety, I heeded the sage advice to conduct all interviews away from my home and waited until I had narrowed my search to the top two candidates before introducing them to my kids.
I conducted the first round of interviews via phone. I spent the first 5 – 10 minutes outlining the responsibilities and then quickly moved on to asking them questions. I have included the list of questions that I asked below. There are many resources on the Internet for potential interview questions. Keep in mind what is most important to you and your family and be sure to thoroughly cover those issues (i.e., flexibility, discipline, education).
- How long have you been in childcare? Can you tell me about your various jobs in childcare?
- What is your favorite age to care for and why?
- Are you first aid/CPR certified?
- What do you like most about childcare?
- What do you like least about childcare?
- Why are you leaving your current job? or Why did you leave your last job?
- Can you flex your schedule if we occasionally need you to arrive early or stay late? If so, how much advance notice do you require?
- What kind of activities would you do with children my kids’ age?
- What is your philosophy on discipline?
- Do you have experience with potty training?
- What are your compensation requirements? Vacation time/holidays?
I specifically asked about potty training because this was something we were in the process of tackling when we were looking for a nanny. I knew I needed someone that would help with the process and carry out our potty training routine in our absence. In the future I will ask what their preferred method of communication is and if they check texts/emails often. This was a bit of an issue for us with our nanny, so I’ll be sure to clearly outline my expectations in the future.
If you need the nanny to transport your children to activities, be sure to ask if they are comfortable doing so and let them know if they will be using their personal vehicle or your vehicle. If you expect the nanny to perform other duties (i.e., laundry, cooking, light cleaning), be sure to let them know and make sure they are comfortable with those duties. Vacation time and holidays are two issues that probably deserve further attention as well. When you lay out your policy on vacation time, be sure to indicate whether the nanny’s vacation time must coincide with your own vacation time or whether it can be taken outside of yours. This can be a big gotcha if not addressed ahead of time. You also must consider how you plan to handle holidays. Are there certain holidays your nanny will be expected to work? Will holidays off be paid or unpaid?
After completing the phone interviews, I narrowed the candidates to two and contacted them for references. I contacted each of their references and asked them a few questions about the candidate to get a feel for how they interacted with their family, what they liked most/least about the candidate, why the candidate left the position, and if they would hire them again. I then contacted the candidates for a second meeting at a local coffee shop to discuss any remaining questions they had and tie up any loose ends on my part. For the last step, I asked them to our home so they could meet with my kids and spend a bit of time with them to see how they interact. Once I made my final decision, I contacted both candidates to let them know and then got to work drafting a Nanny Contract and some House Rules. I will cover these in my next post. Best of luck with your nanny interviews!
by Carrie Vallance