How to interview a nanny

Published: 10/02/2020

There are hundreds of questions you could, and probably want to ask your potential nanny in an interview. But let’s face it, the baby needs a nappy change soon, the toddler can only do so many puzzles in a row, and those meals don’t cook on their own.

Above all, the interview with the nanny shouldn’t come across as one long interrogation. It’s a two-way street – nannies choose families as much as families choose nannies.

You won’t necessarily turn into a professional nanny interviewer overnight, but these 7 recommendations will show you how to interview a nanny, setting you both up for success in the long run. 

1.      Start off the interview with an easy question

Let’s face it, interviews can be very stressful for anyone and nannies are no exception. You’ll make her feel comfortable and ease her into the interview by starting off with an ice-breaker. Questions such as: Why did you become a nanny? or What do you like most about your job (and what least)? should encourage nannies to share their motivations, likes and dislikes. No one likes dealing with toddler tantrums, (right?). So, don’t expect nannies to like every single aspect of their job – but on balance, the likes should far outweigh the dislikes! Ask follow-up questions if necessary, to encourage her to elaborate. And remember, if she struggles with these easy questions, then that can be telling too!

2.      Try to get a good sense of if your parenting mantra resonates with her

Try to get a good sense of how nannies structure their days, and whether it reflects your parenting mantra. And if not, whether you feel they could easily adjust to your preferred way of doing things. Make sure you probe on dislikes as well as reasons for leaving previous families. There’s nothing wrong with leaving a job because it wasn’t right. It takes two to tango after all! As with romantic relationships, a good match is based on compatibility beyond just availability, experience and geographic proximity. This is why we match parents with nannies based on parenting style, character, values and beliefs at myTamarin.

3.      Give her the opportunity to share her dreams and hopes for the future

Who doesn’t like to dream?! Give nannies you interview the opportunity to share their ambitions, goals and plans for the future – in terms of both career and life generally. Asked in the right way and without any pressure, the answers will reveal how committed nannies are to a specific type of job and/or location.

4.     You can tell a lot about a person from asking questions about family or how they were raised

Give the nannies you interview the opportunity to talk about their family and ask about their upbringing or family values. This may or may not resonate with you. If they have small children or an elderly parent to look after it might put constraints on her availability and flexibility.

5.     Find out what she expects from you as an employer

Questions like What kind of families make you happy? Or, What does it take for you to feel comfortable in a job? will encourage nannies to share their expectations of you as an employer. And, of course, it’s your prerogative to decide if you can live up to those expectations, or not. And if you can’t, then that’s ok too. For example, you may work unpredictable hours and travel a lot for work. If a nanny needs predictability and dislikes last-minute changes to her own working hours, be honest about your ability to deliver on this expectation.

6.     Asking what she doesn’t like can be very revealing

People like the opportunity to complain. And it’s a great chance for you to assess your compatibility. It’s perfectly acceptable to say something along the lines of What are the types of things families do that annoy you (the most)? If the answer is “when a family leave dirty dishes in the sink in the morning, and I have to put them into the dishwasher”, for example... Leaving the dirty dishes isn’t exactly a felony, but if that person is you, then you’re not going to be a good match!

7.     End the interview with something positive

End your interview with something positive. Give nannies one last chance to express themselves fully and tell you more about their lifestyles, values and beliefs by asking questions about what they like doing in their free time. Finally, be prepared to answer these, and similar questions yourself. Nannies choose families as much as families choose nannies.

Now you've aced the interview, have a look at the other nanny hiring tips in our "How to" guides:

How to interpret nanny CVs and profiles

How to trial a nanny

How to reference check a nanny

How to onboard a nanny

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