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How to interview a nanny: Questions to ask during phone interviews

How to Interview a Nanny: Questions to Ask During Phone Interviews
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You've narrowed down your applicants to a few potential nannies. Now it's time to pick up the phone and ask a few questions to further decide if each candidate is worth meeting in person.

Here are a three general topics to cover during your call with each nanny:

The basics

Start with a few general questions, like “How long have you been a nanny?” and “What made you apply for my position?” to get the conversation flowing. Also make sure to ask, “Why are you leaving your current position?” if she is currently employed. This will tell you a lot about her and her professionalism.

 Once you get a feel for her personality, make sure to cover these key topics:

  • Name, Email Address, and Phone Number: This makes it easier to contact her in the future.
  • Language Requirements: Whether she is not a native English speaker or you want her to be fluent in another language, this is a good time to bring up the subject.
  • Salary Requirements: Ask her "What salary range are you looking for?" or "We will be paying $X, are you comfortable with that?" Don’t be shy about this; salary is often the deciding factor for both parties so get it out of the way.  
  • Non-Negotiables: If you need a nanny who will be available to start ASAP, who has a degree in education, who has X years of experience, or any other “non-negotiable,” ask her immediately. This makes sure you’re not wasting your time or hers.

If she doesn’t meet your non-negotiables or you instinctively feel she’s not a good fit, politely end the call by saying something like, “Thanks so much for your time. I’ll let you know my decision in a few days.”

If you like the way the conversation is going, continue with:

Job requirements

You'll want to review the general requirements of the job and determine if the candidate will be able to meet your needs. Don't forget to cover the points listed in your job post, including her experience with children similar in age to yours, comfort transporting kids, etc. Also ask about how she feels about your schedule or any additional duties you’d need her to perform (housekeeping, cooking, etc.).

Ask questions that let the nanny confirm her application or resume, such as “You’ve been a nanny for X years, right?” and “Do you have experience with housekeeping/cooking/____ for your previous families?” This lets the nanny expand on her experience and gives you a feel for how extensive her background is.

If you like her, it’s time to invite her to meet in person.

The next stage

Once you’ve decided that you like her responses to your previous questions, you can start setting up the next in-person interview. You can decide in advance whether you want to meet alone (without the kids) or if you want the candidates to meet the kids. Many families prefer a public place, like a coffee shop, without the kids to make sure that their children only meet the nannies who are the best fit for them.  

But before you get an interview scheduled, ask each interviewee for:

  • Her references’ contact information
  • Permission to access to her background check
  • Any follow up information, such as CPR Certification verification or school schedule

Then you can say, “I’d really like to meet you in person. If you’re still interested, can we set up a time to meet this week?” Note: Give her a chance to decide if she wants to meet (and don’t be upset if she declines). Give her a few options for times to meet up, blocking out a morning or afternoon to schedule a few candidates.

The gut check

Most importantly, listen to your gut. When you’re on the phone with a nanny, you’ll usually know if it’s a good idea to meet or not. She’ll provide thorough answers, check all your “Must Have’s,” and connect well with you. If you don’t feel that connection, don’t waste your time (or hers). You can always revisit your applications again if you don’t find your nanny during the in-person interviews.

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