Having a trial with a family is a crucial part of the selection process. The main point of a trial is to see how you work, so it is likely you will have to stand on your own two feet and be autonomous. Don’t expect to be “onboarded” first. Onboarding -- and getting to know all the details about the family, children and their home -- comes after you’ve successfully passed a trial.
Trials are also a great opportunity for you to get to know the family and their routines better. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to ace the nanny trial.
1. Be on time and wear suitable clothing
This may sound obvious, but it is very important to arrive promptly to the family’s house. Check the route and traffic before leaving just in case it might take slightly longer.
When meeting anyone, their first judgement will be on appearance, so make sure you look presentable. Don’t over do it with heavy make up or hot pants as this can really put a parent off. Make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing you can move around in but also still looking professional. Wear trainers or other sturdy shoes. It’s very hard to kick a football around in flip flops, heels or ballet flats!
2. Come prepared with activities for you and the children to do together
This is a brilliant way to build rapport with the children and get to know their interests. Plan to do some activities that are age appropriate such as puzzles, reading books, peek-a-boo, or football.
Depending on the family, you may be asked to remain in the house or to go in the garden so don’t rely on a trip to the park but also be prepared if they want you to take the children out. Bring (small) toys, games and books with you as this shows that you are fun and organised.
3. Listen, follow instructions and ask questions
During a trial, if you ask questions, the relationship grows with the children and the parents. Prepare a few questions around routine, discipline, likes, interests etc. But don’t ask what exactly to do with the children - that’s your job. If for example they ask you to play with the children for an hour, don’t ask “what should we play”, instead suggest what you should play. You may ask where is the best place in the house to play, and where is there water if they get thirsty, but show that you actually know what the age appropriate activities are.
We recommend avoiding salary or holidays discussions at this stage. First, make sure you like them, and that they like you. (Often it’s good to sleep on it!) Once that is established, you can proceed with contract negotiations.
As a general rule of thumb, mimicking their behaviour and reading the room is a good way to make sure you don’t overstep but also show off your strengths.
4. Be organised and proactive
Often, parents will give you tasks to achieve during the trial so be organised and think about how to use the time best. If for example one of the tasks is to do a load of laundry, consider doing it early in the day as it can be washing and drying whilst you are playing with the children. Even better, engage the children and make it fun for them to participate, if they are old enough.
Also, if you see a plate on the side, put it in the dishwasher and show you are happy to help the family as much as you can. If you have a can-do attitude, parents are more likely going to hire you.
5. Don’t forget that you’re a guest in someone’s home
Remember to be polite and respectful. You are in someone’s home so respect their space and their rules.
Offer to take your shoes off when you enter the house, and make sure you wash your hands. Trials usually last a few hours or even a full day, so it’s advisable for you to bring a snack or drink for yourself - don’t expect the family to cook a meal for you.
If you take a game out with the children then make sure you put it away after or even better, encourage the children to tidy in a fun way. If you feed children, ensure that the dining table, high chair and kitchen are left in the same state as you found them.
6. Show interest in the children
However, when children are shy, sleeping, or clingy, it’s easy to prioritize them and spend more time with parents. Although you are employed by the parents, your main focus are the children. They might not accept you straight away so it’s time to show your skills as a nanny and get them excited and engaged with you. Rather than asking the parents for a house tour, try asking the children to show you to their playroom...
7) Don’t give up!
Children can be difficult when they say they don’t want to do an activity, but it’s your job as a nanny to find out why and motivate them to do it.
Rather than asking if they want to go to the park, ask if they would like to go to the park on a scooter or a bike?
This helps the children feel like they have a choice whilst also doing the planned activity. The more you excite a child with an option, the more likely they are going to engage and have fun. We have also seen that some nannies will give up easily if the baby is fussing when you try to put them down so make sure you keep trying. Although the parents might be able to provide help, it’s important to show that you are confident and can handle anything thrown your way, on your own.
Bottom line, you need to demonstrate that you can handle the children, and are genuinely enjoying your work!
If you have any questions about interviewing or any other aspect of being a nanny, we’d be happy to help at myTamarin. Just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, why not check out our open jobs.
For more general tips, read our blog Getting your nanny job off to a good start: Our 5 top tips.
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