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The Nanny Guide: How to Handle Nanny Interviews

In Part 6 of "The Nanny Guide," we share our tips for how to handle the process of interviewing nannies once you've screened your candidates.

The Nanny Guide: Nanny Interviews
Image via Unsplash.com/Seemi Samuel

Interviews can be stressful, no matter which side of the table you're on. If you’re unsure of how to start the screening and selection process, check out this great nanny-screening resource. Once you’ve selected your interviewees, you'll need to schedule a time and place to start your interviews.

Where and When to Interview Candidates

Many families create a “two-part” interview process. If you feel more comfortable, you can schedule to meet candidates at a coffee shop, café, or public space close to your house for the first interview. This creates a neutral environment and you don’t have to worry about taking the kids elsewhere. This also eliminates risks if the nanny candidate turns out to be undesirable.

If you can, schedule your nanny interviews in batches of two to three, all in the same day. Schedule them far enough apart (30-45 minutes) in case someone is running late or you chat over your time slot. This helps you get a feel for the candidates so you can compare them easily in your mind.

But before the first interview takes place, you need to create questions to ask. These questions should be designed to help you find a nanny who is the best fit for your needs.

What to Ask

Here's a high-level overview of the types of questions you'll want to ask a potential nanny during your initial interview. If you'd like a more detailed list of questions to ask during phone and in-person interviews, make sure to check out our "How to Interview a Nanny" article series!

  • The Nanny's Experience: 
    • What do you enjoy most about being a nanny?
    • What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts about being a nanny?
    • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a nanny?
    • What is your favorite thing to do with your charges? Your least favorite?
    • Why did your previous position come to an end?
  • Child-Rearing Philosophies: 
    • Do you have a teaching philosophy (e.g. academic vs. “learn through play”)?
    • How do you comfort children?
    • What role will you take in disciplining the children?
    • How have you handled crying children and temper tantrums in the past?
  • Activities: 
    • What are your favorite activities to do with (insert age group of your child/children)?
    • Are you willing to take children to library, museums, parks, etc. and engage in/supervise play dates?
    • Do you have crafts, games, or lessons you like to use with your charges?
  • Taking Direction: 
    • Have you had problems with previous families regarding discipline, development, daily routines, etc.?
    • Are you comfortable with our religious/parenting/(insert other lifestyle) requirements?
    • How will you connect with us if there is a problem you want to address?
  • Handling Emergencies: 
    • Have you ever had to handle a child emergency?
    • What did you do and what was the outcome?
    • What would you do if my child were to choke/get injured/(insert any scenario)?
    • Do you have infant and child CPR certification?
    • Would you be willing to receive such training if not?
  • Nutrition: 
    • What types of meals and snacks would you prepare at home, or select for the child if eating out of the home?
    • Are you comfortable providing our children with sugar-free/gluten-free/vegetarian/(insert other food restriction) meal options?
    • Do you have any experience with food allergies? (if applicable)
  • Personal: 
    • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
    • Are there short- or long-term personal goals you’re working towards?
    • How long are you planning to be a nanny?
    • Do you live close and have a way to get here everyday?

After the Interview

If the interview goes well, you should follow it up by contacting the nanny’s references and ordering a background check. When contacting references, ask about the nanny’s dependability, communication skills, and child care style. Also ask what the parents felt her strengths and weaknesses were and why she is no longer working for them.

Here are a few other questions to ask when calling references.

Also keep in mind that a background check can take 24 to 72 hours, so order it as soon as you know she’s a final candidate. You can also order a motor-vehicle record check, which is a good idea if the nanny will be driving your children a lot.

Note: Stay attuned to whether your candidate hesitated or refused a background check. You may want to continue your nanny search.

The Final "Interview"

The most important part of hiring a nanny is knowing that she is comfortable with your family (and vice versa). Invite “finalists” to come meet your child at your home as their “second interview,” before officially hiring anyone.

Ask your favorite candidates to spend some time with your child(ren) on separate days, if possible. This lets your kids recover from the excitement of meeting someone new and also gives you more time with each candidate.

When a nanny is in your home, watch how she interacts, how comfortable she seems with you supervising, and remember to always trust your instincts. Also ask your child(ren) or anyone else who lives in your household about their impressions.

Time to Say “You’re Hired”

Once you’ve found your nanny, it’s time to officially offer her the position. You can create a nanny contract, negotiate salary, and offer benefits. Once she’s accepted, decide on a start date.

Make yourself available to answer questions, give her a tour of the house, and check in with her before and after work. You might also consider a 2-week “trial period” to make sure that you’re a correct fit for one another.

As your nanny becomes more and more a part of your family, continue to keep the channels of communication open. Knowing what you expect of her and how she thinks your children are developing will make your life (and her job) much easier.


Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for Care.com. She is also the editor of BostonMamas.com.

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