7 questions every nanny should ask during an interview

June 27, 2018

Congratulations! You just scored an interview for a great new nanny job. The interview is the most important part of the process, for both parents and child care providers.

"I was surprised at how much the interview process was more important to me than the resume," says Rhonda McRae, a mom from Seattle. "There were a few [applicants] I remember who looked perfect on paper but didn’t impress me when I met them."

What many some nannies forget, too, is that interviews are a two-way street. The meeting is also an opportunity for you to interview the family, says Carrie Hillen, president of Town + Country Resources. “Keep your ideal job in mind, and ask questions that will help you determine if this one is a good fit. You want to find out what it will take to be successful in the job.”

While some topics such as hours, wages and responsibilities should always be covered during an interview, you should try to dig a little deeper. Here are seven questions you might not have thought of that will help illuminate important details of the job:

Question #1: Have you had a nanny before?

Finding out how much experience a prospective employer has with hiring is important. Someone who has never had a nanny might need some more hand-holding to ensure a smooth relationship. Conversely, it might be a red flag if you encounter someone who has hired a lot of nannies who haven’t stayed. It could’ve been the nannies, but it also could be the job or expectations.

Question #2: What could have been better about the experience?

If they've worked with a nanny before, what did the family like or dislike about the previous person or having a nanny in general? This shouldn't turn into a gossip-fest. You're just trying to learn what the pain points were.

According to career coach Kolby Goodman, of TheJobHuntr.com, this question will help you determine which characteristics are most important to the potential employer and will in turn allow you to better position yourself to get the job. “Was the last nanny unreliable and always late?" Goodman says. "Focus on your punctuality."

Question #3: What is the daily schedule?

“Asking more in-depth questions about the schedule will help you uncover details that might not be readily apparent,” Hillen says. For example, perhaps the parents have a weekly date night on Fridays that they'll need you to stay late for or they need you to take their daughter to band practice early on Tuesdays.

And ask how that schedule may change: 

  • Is spring a busy time for the mom's company, so she may need to work longer hours?
  • Will they still need you during the summer or do they send their child to camp?

Question #4: Who will be my boss?

Hillen says it’s important to find out exactly who the responsible party is so that you aren’t receiving conflicting instructions from different parents, or others involved in household management.

Question #5: Will there be regular check-ins?

Conducting regular check-ins shows that your potential employer will treat your input as valuable and helpful. “These meetings are important to the success of you as a caregiver, since you can receive up-to-date feedback on your services,” says Goodman. “They will also bolster the relationship between you and the family and ensure you are meeting expectations.”

Question #6: Do you have a nanny contract?

Written agreements, also called nanny contracts, are another way to ensure that you and your employers are on the same page ... literally! If the parent doesn’t have one, consider developing one together so that expectations and duties are clear. “Knowing exactly what they are looking for allows you to assess whether the family’s expectations are reasonable or completely exaggerated,” Goodman says. “You need to know right off the bat if the position will be manageable for you.”

Question #7: What is your parenting style?

And how should you be interacting with that style? You don’t want to find out too late that the family expects you to let the child “cry it out,” if that goes against your personal child care beliefs. Consequently, a nanny who is used to having more control might feel uncomfortable in a situation where the child has more leeway to make decisions. Finding out the family’s general parenting philosophies and discipline styles can help you decide whether the job will be a good match.

Interviews are the best way to get a real feel for the position and family dynamics. Take the time during the interview to make sure you're comfortable with the details of a job so that you can accept it with full confidence.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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