Real Moms Share Their Best Interview Questions
Get inspiration for what to ask when hiring a nanny with these 10 creative and unusual questions.
Gillian Kruse, Contributor
Articles> Real Moms Share Their Best Interview Questions
nanny interview questions

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. How Would You Handle a Temper Tantrum in a Store? 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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(20) Comments
Christie P.
Christie P.
These are awesome, thanks so much!!! Caring for my kids is TOP priority if a potential nanny doesn't want me "seeing" her FB or friending me is a problem I would NEVVVVER hire her EVER, in fact, I'd run and run fast!! This tells me she has something to hide. No way.
June 23, 2015 at 3:47 AM
Amanda C.
Amanda C.
I agree that boundaries are a very crucial aspect that needs to be respected. Asking to visit their home seems a bit forward and intrusive to me.
May 25, 2015 at 10:49 PM
Claudia W.
Claudia W.
I may have missed this one in all of the comments but a good question I like to ask is "How would you manage a personal 'emergency' that occurred during the care/work day?"

I ask this question #1 because it happens and I want to know if the Nanny has a plan B for personal emergencies and how to plan for the children's care should an unexpected situation arise.
April 8, 2015 at 10:28 AM
Mary L.
Mary L.
I think it is very important to respect personal boundaries. Everyone has a right to privacy. That includes parents, nannies, and children too. The idea is that if you respect the other person, that person will respect you; however, respect sometimes means different things to different people. People are raised differently and as a result, may have different concepts of what is considered polite. A person needs to have standards and values in order to establish personal boundaries.

It usually takes time to get to know someone. Rather than asking off the wall questions in order to catch the nanny by surprise, it is better to be direct, simply tell her what you want for your children.

Also, believing that if the nanny is aware of her blood type, she will be better able to detect any illnesses in your child, is a vague assumption. A nanny is not a doctor, and this way of thinking can be detrimental. You're talking about two completely different people, and certain conditions that are considered mild in adults may be considered serious for children. With this way of thinking, your child say, might have a fever, but the nanny thinks it's no big deal because she herself gets fevers all the time, so she doesn't mention it to you. Although it's always good to be knowledgeable about childhood illnesses, the nanny may not be aware that the child is sick. The good thing is, she spends time with the child regularly; therefore, she is in a good position to notice changes in behavior that may indicate an illness, but she may not always be able to do so. Even doctors miss things from time to time, and often, determining a diagnosis, is a matter of trial and error. If the parent has a particular concern, she needs to let it be known. It will help eliminate the guesswork.

On a final note, the father probably asked the potential nanny if she had health insurance because he needed to know if (as her employer) he was going to be required to pay for it or not.
May 31, 2014 at 3:52 PM
John P.
John P.
I'm only speaking of what my parents would have done when I was a child... But someone watching their children I know would outweigh any potential rudeness they might exhibit when meeting the person. It's easy to think these questions are intrusive until it is your kids that need a babysitter. Then you will be much more curious about the car they drive and how clean they keep their apartment/house. If someone drove up with vulgar lyrics in a beat up old car, legally you can't discriminate, but on this planet we all do so just be appropriate when meeting a family for the first time.
May 29, 2014 at 4:26 AM
Georgia A.
Georgia A.
I am appalled at the rudeness and the entitlement of some of these questions! A potential employer asking if they are able to see where I live is completely intrusive and, in my opinion, flat out ridiculous. I completely understand that a parent wants to take much care in finding an appropriate and safe nanny for their child. However, boundaries people! Boundaries.
April 21, 2014 at 6:22 PM
I see the more personal questions as intrusive, and something that doesn't relate to my ability to do my own job. Parents relationships has no impact on how I will react to your children. If i want you looking at my blog or my FB, I will invite you to it, not let you look at my profile while I'm logged into it! What I post online and what's in my blog are my business, and for my friends and family only! NOT for any stranger who happens across my profile, which is why its set to private. I also don't agree with the blood type question and would be very uncomfortable if they wanted to visit my home, since its not mine, but is my employers. I'd only allow for a home visit if I was taking care of the children within my home, as parents have the right to view the areas the children would be spending their time in, but my bedroom would be off limits. I guess I value my privacy. Music taste? Huh, I would just ask the parents what shows and type of music they don't want their kids hearing and watching and go by that. Part of the job is accommodating the family, and what I view and listen to on my own time is my business, even as a live in.

Drug test, I wouldn't mind taking a professional one for them if they are willing to pay for it, but I'm not into a home drug test. Letting them handle my sample is a little too intimate in my opinion, but I'd also want to be aware of the Family's own drug usage. Not really into the idea of working for someone who keep illegal drugs in the house themselves.
February 5, 2014 at 9:57 PM
Dayna Lyn K.
Dayna Lyn K.
Sorry - the questions are no good. Sure there are idiots out there that don't understand how to interview, but most know at least what NOT to say... who'd say "yeah, I'll be ignoring your kid while I text and tweet while listening to mega death rock or gangsta rap" or "Hey I really hate cleaning, cooking, touching sticky stuff, hearing the question 'why?' too often... but I think you should pay me $50/hr plus bennys" -- you'd have to be worse off than an idiot... these questions in this article aren't really see what the answers are but to jolt the "idiots" into screwing up. These questions are to get the interviewee to be on their toes, act professionally and think.
Sure these questions may be a bit unlawful in most situations, but working for a private person/possibly living with them.

It's a job, but it's also being part of a family... you'll be a parent in proxy. If you aren't treated with respect (either party) at any stage from the interview to unexpected changes to the original agreement you MUST stop and take the time to communicate... "why are you asking such a personal question?" or "why do you feel telling me your preferred music likes is too personal?" (like I said, goes either way) then you best get out before you get in too deep.

If you are very religious, write so in your job posting but don't specify which religion... then you don't discuss which religion when interviewing... would you fire this so called perfect person (except for the religion) because of it? You may be catholic they may be jewish... personally I would love to see, learn, and be part of another religion... it would open my eyes and strengthen my faith. I could and would do it without judgement or argument on who's religion is "right". Just as with music... who's music is "right"? how about food? Is sugar (in moderation) ok? let's say no - but how about allowing the child to eat only their favorite food... well now their diet is not well rounded & unhealthy.

EVERYTHING in life is a matter of cost. Parents go to work at the cost, not of just the pay to the sitter but the emotional cost of leaving their child. People go to interviews maybe discluding certain elements that are very important to them for fear of the cost of NOT getting the job.
So argue what questions are right or wrong... in the end it's what cost will you pay (usually not monetary) to argue your point and "win?"
November 9, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Jennifer T.
Jennifer T.
I know some people feel these questions are inappropriate, but don't forget that you aren't applying to a job at a restaurant or office. You're working with someone's child and possibly living with them. Imagine if it was you and your child. Sometimes putting yourself in their shoes helps.

As a nanny, I have no problem answering just about anything. The main problem I have is that I wouldn't know how to answer some questions. Like the blood type. Or discipline. I generally ask the parents how they would prefer I handle discipline, since every family is different. I'd hate to think that I'd be judged on my own personal style simply because it doesn't match theirs. Especially since, as a nanny, you are trained to adapt to your family's wishes. That's a huge part of the job.

To the people commenting on unfair pay... you should always negotiate price before taking a job. Having a contract is perfectly acceptable. But even if you haven't made one, if you've agreed to a certain number of hours for a certain amount of pay and you aren't getting it, then the next time they come home tell them you're leaving. It's their own fault for not honoring your agreement. And if you don't have a contract, at least keep a written log of each day you get there and when you leave, and have the parent sign it daily so that they know they won't get away with not paying you. This will generally hold up in a court as well.

I'm generally pretty lenient about hours. Most day care centers will charge for each minute you're late because they have to in order to not be in default of state requirements. But as a nanny, you can't get mad about every 10 minutes over the hour they're late. Especially as a live-in. As a live-in, I'm usually fine with anything as long as they call me and let me know.

If you feel it's becoming egregious and they're taking advantage, then pull them aside and tell them so. You can't be afraid to talk to them. Let them know it's not acceptable. And ALWAYS be wary of anyone who doesn't pay you in full or asks you to wait on payment. You did the job and require payment for your services, like any other job. Don't continue working with them until they pay you.

As for how much to charge, I would say that you should take your monthly bills and the location of the job into account. No matter what, always get at LEAST minimum wage, even as a live-in. You can feel free to negotiate if you want, but minimum wage protects you. If you're a live-in nanny and you suddenly get fired or the family decides to move and you need to find a place to live within a month, if you're making minimum wage you should at least be able to save for an apartment in the area. If you're making 5 dollars an hour, chances are slim that you'll be able to have any real savings put aside. However, if they offer to pay for health insurance, a car stipend, a phone, or any other bonuses, then it might be worth it to you to accept such a small offer. So just use common sense and do research on what other sitters and day care centers are charging in the area.
October 19, 2013 at 5:16 PM
Kristen V.
Kristen V.
When looking for someone to care for the most important person in my life I ALWAYS ask them if they would be willing to take a drug test. Almost EVERY job now a days requires you to take a drug test upon hire so why would it be any different when I am about to hire you to care for my child? This question is in no way violating anyones rights. I absolutely do NOT want someone that even is on anti anxiety meds that makes them drowsy anywhere near my child.
September 24, 2013 at 8:46 PM
Margherita B.
Margherita B.
from this site I often see familes willing to pay $5.00 per hr looking for childcare for 2 or3 children, in addition someone to takecare pest, house work, grocieries shopping cook meals, laundry .....and so on and on ....I have been asking my self who can live off in this days working just for $5.00 per hr ?? I know I can't!!
September 13, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Ashley B.
Ashley B.
What is your blood type?
Just had to laugh at this question. All I can think is say "A positive" to conjure the image of the happy "A+" mostly because no one wants to hear an interviewee say "be negative" LOL. "How often did you miss a day of work due to illness in your last position" is a much more appropriate question! You'll find it in plenty of corporate interviews too.

How do you get along with your parents?
Great! They were wonderful, loved them.
Because why would I tell someone I was interviewing for that my parents were alcoholics, my mom died when I was 18 and my dad is in Hospice care now? I don't want to make you sad at an interview telling you how I had to learn how to self parent and my crappy childhood made me feel like the best thing I can do with my life is give some other kids a happy childhood. Its my story of overcoming life's hardships, not my bright first-impression smile while I impress you with my skills and experience.

While these may be great intimate getting to know you questions, some are a bit harsh for a first date. You should always have two interviews at least with any candidate so both of you has the chance to ask all the questions and get all the answers. In the first interview, you want to impress each other so keep the mood light. Then have a family dinner to see how the caregiver interacts with your kids, then a second interview can get a little more serious. If you really need to know about some closet skeletons before you hire someone to care for your kids, set the tone appropriately. Just try not to do that right off the bat.
September 6, 2013 at 12:36 AM
Gina V.
Gina V.
Ultimately, as a parent, i think these questions would create a terrible relationship between you and the person with whom you are working to create a support system for your child. I would never ask a question for which I wouldn't be willing to volunteer my own information, and there are many here I would qualify as not just intrusive but quite rude. Just imagine saying: "I had an absentee father figure, but I still think I'm pretty qualified to caretake a child. By the way, how was your relationship with your parents?" Mutual respect-the respect you have for the person with whom you work, and the respect that person should have for your child's sense of autonomy and boundaries-does not begin by making that person feel as if you have the right to demand information they would probably only tell an intimate. They should be asked questions that pertain to their role as professionals, out of respect for fine people they tend to be-which means limiting questions to their specific role...not their taste in music.
August 19, 2013 at 9:45 PM
Sasha W.
Sasha W.
I agree, nobody needs to know theirblood type, it is not imperative to their health. I'm a doctor and I don't know my blood type.
August 11, 2013 at 7:24 AM
Shoshanna S.
Shoshanna S.
I thought a lot of the questions are overly intrusive and would scare off a potentially qualified babysitter. You can ask, what steps would you take to ensure my child's health? but asking about blood type is freakish. As a parent you are entitled to ask about their work history, but you are not entitled to peek in their bedrooms or read their facebook posts. This line of questioning is just inviting a relationship with poor boundaries. And I'm speaking as a parent, not a nanny.
August 1, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Yvonne J.
Yvonne J.
I'm reading some of the comments and I'm thinking to myself did some of you even take the time to create a Nanny Contract for your family? You can't just go into these type agreements without the proper legal precautions, because things do happen, promises do get broken and you definitely don't wan't to end up in court over something you could've prevented in the first place if you'd just taken the time to crate a nanny/caregiver document. It covers you and the family. As far as the questions, it is a bit strange, but the family is entrusting you, a complete stranger to their children,so I personally think it's ok to ask those questions. Unless there is some law that says otherwise...
April 3, 2013 at 10:49 AM
Pauline H.
Pauline H.
If had a sitter Answer, interview and accept a job only to quit 6 days later via Text with less than 24 hrs notice!!! (Stating the drive was long and the hours too early) I not only leave for work at 6:30 am , I have a son with autism! So sitters aren't busting down the door!!! ( just a two hour daily job) ! Well when I rated her with one star!!!!, she had the nerve to reply, that I could have said it to her face, ( duh! You quit via text!) she also said maybe I should pay more than $10.00 an hour for two kids especially when one is handicapped ( her words) he is pretty independent I must add. Should I add her profile detailed her experience with children with disabilities?!! Sitters, Please give parents advance notice and time to secure safe, loving replacements. We understand our families sometimes are not good matches for you! But this is a job and if you want good references , this is a good way to get them!
March 16, 2013 at 8:26 PM
Bailey D.
Bailey D.
I think some of these questions would be a little inappropriate, but I can see why families would want that kind of insight into their children's potential caretaker's life.
1. What Would You Do with My Child on a Rainy Day?
This is a great question for getting to know not only your nanny's or babysitter's interests but also how she/he would get the kids involved and busy during a day when playing outside isn't an option.

2. May I Visit Your Home?
This one is a little strange, and I think a bit too intrusive. There are other ways to tell if a person is organized during the interview process. Are they taking notes? Do they seem focused on the interview or are they staring off and getting sidetracked? Did they come prepared? How does their resume look, regarding organization of skills, jobs, etc?

3. Do You Blog?
A more appropriate question might be something along the lines of "How much time do you spend using a computer/smartphone/tablet on a typical day?" This will give you a better view of how they spend their time, and if they have a smartphone or camera you are more than welcome to tell them they are not permitted to post pictures of your children on any online forum without your permission. I spend time on several online forums, including this one (, but that is because a lot of my friends (especially overseas) are most easily contactable online. Furthermore, I know that when I'm with the kids they should have my full attention.

4. What is Your Blood Type?
I would probably answer this question, but I would also answer a question about my general awareness of my health. You don't usually have to be sneaky like this with questions--a nanny or babysitter should be able to answer a straight question with a straight answer. A better way to address the issue might be to ask your candidate's references whether they thought their former employee was aware of and reported any health issues the children had.

5.How Would You Handle a Temper Tantrum in a Store?
This question runs along the same lines as a question about discipline. You could also just ask your candidate what their philosophy is on discipline, and if the answer is too general then throw this one out there.

6. How Do You Get Along with Your Parents?
I think this question is too intimate and extremely inappropriate. Your interview should give you a good enough feel for your candidate that you don't need a question like this. My family dynamics are my own business, and how I care for your children has more to do with what I have been taught by experience as a nanny/babysitter/caretaker and what you ask of me than anything from my family history would.

7. What Do You Know About This Neighborhood?
This is a great question! I would not use this question to rule out a candidate, but it would be nice to know that a candidate has some idea of what to do in the area. However, with The Internet everywhere we go, it will not be hard for a nanny or babysitter new to the area to find something awesome for your kids to do even if they are unfamiliar with the neighborhood.

8. Would You Like to Come Over For Dinner?
I agree with a trial period, but I think maybe just having them over for an hour or two under your light supervision would be fine. Dinner with the family can get awkward quickly, but if you let the candidate interact with the kids in a way that would be commonplace if they were hired (say, playing in the backyard or going to a park or to a playgroup or reading a book or naptime) you will see what you need to see of her ability to care for your children. A dinner will not give you nearly as much of the same kind of insight, in my opinion, but it might give your candidate a chance to get to talk to the family a little more.

9. What's on Your iPod?
Musical tastes can be misleading. I have a preference for the kind of music played at renaissance fairs, for soundtracks, for music I can dance and sing to, but I also really enjoy classical and orchestral music. Stereotyping your candidate based on the music they have in their collection is not going to get you very far. If you want to know what they might talk about with your kids, maybe ask them what they've seen or heard in the news lately, or what television shows they like, or what movies or books they have enjoyed recently and why.

10. What's Your Five Year Plan?
This is a great question for families who are looking for a long-term candidate. There is no reason I would not answer this question to the best of my ability, but it is also a risky question. Your candidate does not know any more than you do what will actually be happening in their life in 5 years. However, you will get a good feel for how long this candidate plans to stick around.
December 20, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Carol B.
Carol B.
I don't see anything wrong with these questions! As a nanny, I would feel completely comfortable with letting the family I work for to come see inside my home or see what tastes in music I have. I don't have kids but if I did and I was letting someone take care of my kid (whether I'm with them while their babysitting or if I'm not there) I would like to know what kind of person I am bringing around my child, and also that, that person is not just b/sing their way into a job! This list is great for mothers to see, and also nannies so their not caught off guard when a family asks, very smart!
November 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM
Patricia M.
Patricia M.
I am a mature , educated person who is looking for a nanny/housekeeper job for over a month I am looking to work in NYC since I worked in the area for 7 years so far no luck I see everyday so many jobs in the mention area I responded to so many but I have rcvd only 2 responses . Beleive me I do not understand I know my blood type, my children, and my husband , my car is so clean and so is my home , I have 3 cats and 2 children . I am not so fit I am average but beleive me I have seem so many young nannies at the park sitting and talking to other nannies or on the phone while the children are playing unattended I am not saying that everyone is doing that but I have seem many. I can tell you my experience sometimes the parents are too busy that they forget they have children . I have an example to tell you I worked with a rich family in the late 80' I was totally in charge of the 2 childrem from 3 to whenever. On Wednesday was my day off from 6pm to 11pm because I was going to school. The little girl was suppossed to go on wednesday after school to iceskating lessons and she will return home at 6 pm at this time I was already gone . One day the parents were so caught up in the exercise room with the trainer that they forgot about the child around 8pm someone call to tell them that they found a child crying in a school bus parked God knows where. At that moment they realize that child had to be home at 6pm. To make the story short the next day the lady told what happened I was the one who was upset because I knew everything about this 2 kids and when the were a little late I will be making phone calls to the school to find out why they were late ,but imagine if this would be the opposite probably I would be in jail now. I tell you this is only one thing about the families. Some of them do not have a good insight and judgement . I was the mother of 2 children from 6 years . They were 1 and 3 when I took care of them now they are in their 30's and they are still in my life and so the other 3 I took care. I just wanted to share with you this story . I see the adds people asking for College education , teachers, and also they have to do housekeeping jobs, and take care of the pets , but yet the salary they offer is $10 an hour. Hard to beleive.
November 13, 2012 at 8:59 AM

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