Hiring a nanny is a great option for a lot of families. It allows your child to enjoy the comfort of their own home during the day, they get access to familiar foods, toys, and environments, and it prevents some of the stress that comes along with using a daycare. And above all, it ensures that your little one gets the one-on-one care and attention that so many parents desire. But how do you interview a nanny and what should you be looking for?
Making the decision about trusting one person to look after your child is a big one. Nannies vary widely in background, experience, attitude, and approaches to looking after those in their care. Finding the right one for your family can make or break a lot of the success you have as busy parents. If an interview is done thoroughly, you can feel more confident about your decision and prevent having to do it all over again in a few months.
Here’s how to interview a nanny, what questions to ask, and how to ask them.
Preparing to interview a nanny
The best way to start preparing for the interview is by letting go of the assumption that nannies are all the same or that you’re the one being interviewed. Some families feel unprepared and sometimes self-conscious about their own knowledge as parents, which leaves them feeling shy and vulnerable. And if you aren’t used to conducting interviews, doing so with a stranger in your home can be a bit uncomfortable.
Here are some tips on how to conduct the best interview no matter how new you are to things:
1. If your partner is more confident or experienced in interviewing people, make sure they are there when you meet potential nannies.
2. Make a list of things that are important to you as a family. Do this together so that you agree on what you’re looking for. Examples could be things like:
- Having fun and laughing is important. We want someone with a great sense of humor who is also creative.
- We’re a quiet household. We’re looking for someone who is quiet and loving.
- We speak a second language at home and we would like our caregiver to speak the same language.
- We want a daycare that is progressive with lots of art projects and local musicians from the neighborhood.
- We want a daycare with a certain philosophy like Montessori.
Bonus: this is a great exercise to do whether or not you are looking for childcare!
3. Practice your interview questions so they don’t seem scripted and you feel comfortable asking them.
How to interview a nanny: selecting the perfect questions
So, what should you actually talk about during a nanny interview? Because there is such a diversity in available nannies, it is possible to find one that you will love and who will be a great match for your family. But it will take some work and will take knowing what to ask and bring up so that you can make the best decision.
Avoid “yes” or “no” questions
Come up with ten questions related to your priorities that require answers other than “yes” or “no.” For instance, if you are looking for a creative person, avoid asking something like “Do you find yourself to be a creative person?” Instead, ask about their creativity in a way that will draw out a story, such as “Tell us about a time in your life when you used humor and creativity to make someone feel better or safe.” A person who loves to use their creativity will have a story about the time they came up with a game to make their new nanny kids feel more comfortable with them or when they built a fort in the living room on a rainy day.
You will be able to tell a lot from these stories and how excited they are about answering the questions!
Find out their philosophies on discipline, screen time, breastfeeding, food, getting out of the house, experience, independent play, and gender norms. Some questions could include:
- Why/how did you begin work as a nanny?
- What is your favorite thing to do with a child on a rainy day? On a summer day?
- What was your typical routine like with your last family?
- Have you worked with a family who breastfeeds before? What did that look like?
- How have you dealt with discipline issues in previous families?
- What are your favorite activities to do in this area outside of the house that children would also enjoy?
- What have you found to be the hardest part about being a nanny?
- What do you think some great activities would be for a child my child’s age? How about a year from now?
- What is a typical lunch that you might prepare for this age group? A typical dinner?
As you interview nannies, think a year or so ahead. You’ll want to hire a nanny to care for your infant but also the toddler they become who has likes and dislikes, plays with friends, eats food, and is developing their own sense of self. Keep this in mind as you form your questions and also as you find out about each nanny’s background working with children.