As someone who will be spending a lot of time with your children, your nanny or babysitter is one of the biggest influences on their upbringing -- aside from you and your partner, of course. It is vital that you pick the right caregiver for your family, but with so many fantastic candidates available in your area, how will you know which one is the best match for your family?
Take a look at the list of helpful questions we've put together in our article on How to Interview a Nanny »
But what if you want to dig a little deeper? These moms from popular parenting blogs and forums weighed in on their best interview questions, and how they separate a good nanny from a great one.
What Would You Do With My Child on a Rainy Day?
Hopefully, this bad weather query will give you some insight into a potential nanny's creativity and playfulness. Having an imaginative nanny is a great asset for precocious, antsy or active children who need a lot of stimulation. Nannies with a wide array of interests or interesting hobbies will be most likely to keep your family entertained for the long haul, and possibly even help your children form new interests of their own.
May I Visit Your Home?
One mom on DC Urban Moms and Dads says, "I have asked potential applicants if they minded if we came over and saw where they lived. I saw it as (1) a good way to see someone in their own element and (2) to see if they are really as neat/orderly/clean as they claim to be. Seeing where someone lives tells you a lot about them." If they are meticulous with their home and belongings, there's a great chance they will be meticulous in caring for your children and your home, too. If this is a little too intrusive for you, maybe ask to see their car.
Do You Blog?
Is your prospective nanny glued to Facebook and her phone? If she's always online, then your children might also start showing up online as well. Care.com message board mom, Tara F., asks candidates about their online usage because otherwise, "how does a family protect its privacy and especially protect the children?" To get a better understanding of someone's Internet habits, ask to see their Facebook page or check out their blog. Do you really want someone with questionable comments or pictures watching over your children? If the prospective candidate does not want to be transparent with you about their posting habits, there's a chance they have something to hide and you might want to rethink using their services.
What's Your Blood Type?
One Washington, D.C. nanny on Urban Moms and Dads recounts what she thought was the strangest question she'd ever been asked: "What is your blood type?" After answering, the mother explained that she wanted to get a better understanding of the candidates' awareness of their own health, and wanted only nannies who were aware of their own medical state. She figured nannies who were conscious of their own health would be most likely to notice health changes in the kids. These nannies might be more likely to bring mom up to speed on any potential health issues before they become problematic.
How Would You Handle a Temper Tantrum in a Store?
TheNannyForum.com member Karinne always asks this question in interviews. It gives some good insight into the nanny's temperament and her care philosophy. If a nanny has a vastly differing care philosophy and manner of dealing with discipline issues than the parents, children can become more unruly due to lack of consistent messaging from authority figures. Ask them questions about how they deal with children and discipline, but make sure that your questions aren't leading -- you don't want to hint at what your ideas are and affect their answers.
How Do You Get Along With Your Parents?
Another mom on DC Urban Moms and Dads always asks about prospective nannies' childhoods and their relationships with parents and any siblings. The nanny's family dynamics and childhood experiences have shaped who she is today, and will give you more information about how she will interact with your children.
What Do You Know About This Neighborhood?
Mom blogger Mrs. Bee asks her nanny interview candidates what they know about local activities and the neighborhood in general. Finding a nanny who is already familiar with the area means time saved teaching her how to get around, and she may already be aware of fun places to explore with your kids.
Would You Like to Come Over for Dinner?
Once you get down to the final few top candidates, have each come over for a few hours for a trial period with the whole family around. Ann Andersen of MomMD says that a trial period is key. Even if it's for a short time, knowing how your potential nanny reacts to your children upon first meeting -- especially when you are there to witness it firsthand -- is very helpful in making the final decision. See how comfortable she is playing with your kids and dealing with typical squabbles. If your children don't get along with her, it wasn't meant to be.
What's on Your Playlist?
Mrs. Bee also asks "Nickelback or Nirvana?" Knowing about someone's music or movie tastes can give you a good sense of her personality and what kinds of pop culture references she might be making around your children. Knowing your nanny's entertainment tastes can also give you a good insight into whether her values (and interests) line up with those of your family.
What's Your Five Year Plan?
Mac Strider of Better Parenting always asks how long candidates plan to work as a nanny. Knowing if this is a few month process, or a life-long venture for them, will go a long way toward finding the best fit for your family. If you're looking for someone to stay with your family for multiple years, the college senior looking to end their nannying career upon graduation probably isn't the best choice. He also notes that "An applicant who is caught entirely off-guard by the question or who struggles to give a coherent answer may not be a desirable candidate."
Do you have any great questions to add to the list? What's the most off-the-wall question you've ever asked -- or been asked -- in a nanny interview?
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston.