Most families don’t look upon a nanny search as an exciting adventure. However, bringing the right nanny into your home can be just that.
1) Write out a Job Description
Prior to beginning the interviewing process, Jordan suggests spending some time clarifying what you expect from a nanny.
“Are you looking for full-time or part-time help? Mornings or afternoons? Will your nanny be responsible for household chores? By spending a little time writing down a simple job description, which includes work days and hours, expected duties and the rules of your home you expect the nanny to follow, you will save yourself a headache in the long run,” she says.
For more advice: 6 Tips for Writing a Babysitter Job Description
2) Connect via Phone
Interview your top 10 candidates over the phone. This gives you the opportunity to weed out the definite no’s and also gives you a peek into the personality of potential hires. Keep the call short — about five minutes each. Mention whether you have pets, in case allergies are a concern.
“This is the easiest way to narrow down candidates,” says Blaine. “For example, you need a nanny who can regularly stay late, but you’re talking to a candidate who must be done by 6 every day. Over the phone, you can also get a feel for someone and a sense of her style and experience. If it clicks, you can move forward to an in-person interview.”
3) Choose Your Candidates
Narrow the pool to between five and seven potential candidates. Keep in mind, not everyone is comfortable speaking over the phone and trust your intuition when weeding out the no’s. If you think someone may fit the bill, but you’re not 100 percent sure, consider a next-step interview to learn more about them and their qualifications. Don’t waste your time or that of a potential hire by asking to meet with someone who doesn’t pass your gut-instinct test.
4) Meet for Coffee
For a first in-person interview, connect with potential hires in a public place, such as a coffee shop.
“Ideally, this first meeting should include the people regularly involved with the care of the child, who will be in direct communication with the child care provider, such as both parents,” says Jordan. “I cannot stress enough the need to pay attention, not only to what the potential nanny is saying, but also to how they are dressed, their connection with you and what is on their resume.”
This meeting should last less than half an hour and yield information that will help you get to the next step. This is your opportunity to get a sense of the person you will be entrusting your children to and ask general interview questions, as well as those most specific to your family.
Here are some nanny interview questions to get you started.
Use this time to nail down the basics of hours and salary, as well as how the potential hire will handle certain situations with your child, says Jordan. “Sometimes, it’s the regular conversation and the chemistry you have with a person that brings the most clarity,” she adds. This is also your chance to ask for a list of references.
5) Interview References
“References are essential!” says Blaine. “They’ll not only bring you peace of mind, but give you a deeper sense of your nanny. What another family says about her — whether it’s positive or negative — may shed some light on aspects of the job you hadn’t thought of before.”
This is also your chance to get a deeper sense of the nanny’s parenting philosophy, as well as a gauge her work skills and habits, such as chronic tardiness and communication style.
Read up on How to Handle Reference Checks.
6) Do a Background Check
A pre-employment background check, such as those offered through Care.com, will be most beneficial. Pre-employment background checks can also be done directly through a consumer reporting agency. If the nanny will be required to do any driving, check traffic records for unpaid parking tickets and violations, such as speeding. It’s also is a good idea to check out social media sites like Twitter and look for past rants about other families or signs the nanny’s life is filled with drama or irresponsible behavior.
7) Prepare for the Next Step
Once you’ve narrowed your choice to three or four potential candidates, invite them to your home. Before you schedule this all-important round of interviews, take a few moments to prepare the questions you’ll ask, as well as do a self-check about the traits that are most important to you.
“Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions,” says Jordan. Write everything down so you’re prepared and include questions about drug and alcohol use, criminal records and their home life both now and as a child, she suggests. “These questions, at first glance, may seem intrusive, but when you are entrusting your child to someone else it’s not the time to be shy. A true professional will welcome and answer questions like these with comfort and ease.”
8) Perform the At-Home Interview
This interview will be more in-depth, giving you an opportunity to ask probing questions about discipline style and child-rearing ideology. It is another chance for you to get a sense of your own feelings about this person and how it feels to have them in your space. Take notes to refer to later on.
“You’ll be looking to see if she is responsible, caring, organized and loves what she does,” says Blaine. “But you should also pay attention to how you communicate with each other. Does the conversation flow easily? Are you comfortable? Sometimes the best person for your family on paper doesn’t quite fit in person.”
MOMS ALSO READ: How To Interview a Nanny In Person
9) Bring in Your Child
Once you’re done asking questions, bring your child into the room to meet the candidate. You want to see how the nanny interacts with him or her. Based upon their age, your child may be standoffish. You should, however, be able to gauge the nanny’s comfort level and engagement style with your child.
10) Trust Your Gut
If that little voice in your head tells you something’s not right, it probably isn’t. A nanny who is perfect for another family may not be perfect for yours, and at the end of this process, you want to have complete confidence in your choice.
Learn more about Trusting Your Instincts When Hiring a Caregiver.
11) Make a Choice
Resist the urge to make an on-the-spot offer to any candidate and give yourself 24 hours to think it over. Make sure every important point has been covered, so there are no loose ends. These include the nuts and bolts of salary, benefits, vacation time, evaluations, and also job responsibilities, like dog walking, dish washing or light cleaning.
At this point you should have a very strong understanding of how your nanny will handle discipline issues, reporting, scheduling and the daily routine. Once you have made a choice, it’s time to make an offer to the nanny and to make a brief courtesy call or send an email to the other candidates, thanking them and letting them know you have made another choice.
Hiring a nanny is one of the most important decisions you will make. With time, enthusiasm and communication, this all-important hire can become a wonderful asset to your family and supply you with confidence and peace of mind.
Read the whole “How to Interview a Nanny” series:
Corey Whelan is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work can be found here.