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How to interview a nanny: Screening your applicants

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Let’s be honest -- hiring a nanny is a big decision and you don’t want to mess it up by choosing the wrong person. If you’re new to hiring a household employee or you’re on the hunt for a new nanny, there are a few things you should keep in mind throughout the screening process.

Here are some tips to help you select the nanny candidates who might be a good fit for your family.

Your newfound popularity

Start your nanny search by posting a job on Care.com. Keep in mind that you don’t have to choose just one potential nanny; find as many candidates as you want, but only interview the ones that you feel would be worth your time to interview. Begin with your top choices, then start screening!

Five things to consider when evaluating candidates

  1. Availability
    Do your schedules match up? Is she going to be available consistently? Be realistic - if she can't stay past 5pm and you don't get home until 6pm, you should move on to other applicants.
  2. Skills 
    Decide what important skills you want your ideal nanny to have. Is it First Aid training, tutoring experience, a degree in early childhood development, a love of crafts? Look at what skills each nanny offers and make sure they align with what’s important to your family.
  3. Experience
    Make sure the nanny candidate has relevant experience for your kids' needs. Experience with newborns, multiples, or special needs are just a few options. Some nannies even have degrees in education or childhood development. You can also search for candidates who have a certain length of experience working as a nanny (and who have the references to prove it.)
  4. Proximity
    Having a nanny who lives nearby can make all the difference in the quality of care she provides. It prevents those “Traffic is horrible” calls on days where you really can’t run late and increases the odds a nanny will stay with you for the long run. If she’s close, she might even help with last-minute care needs on sick days or snow days.
  5. Initial impression
    Did the nanny include a message in her application? In the nanny world, this is like a cover letter that gives you a glimpse into your potential nanny's true personality. She might include bits about her experience, why she’s applying for your position, and how to reach her if you’re interested in speaking further.

    When you read her application message and then review her resume and/or profile, you should trust your intuition. First impressions aren't everything, but they are important.

Along with these considerations, you should also know what you want well before you start interviewing candidates. You might consider creating a list of “Must Have’s” before reviewing applications. As you look at each application, commit to your list and don’t compromise. If a nanny candidate doesn’t have your “Must Have’s,” move on to the next.

Stay organized (and sane)

As you narrow down your list of potential nannies, remember to stay organized. Use our simple hiring tools to make life easier. For instance:

  • Label your favorite child care providers for quick reference
  • Send a quick "No Thank You" note to applicants who don't fit your needs
  • Use the Notes field to remind you of details throughout the hiring process

Once you’ve selected a handful of qualified applications (the number is up to you), you're ready to move on to phone interviews!

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