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 Deliciouslly Ella recipes sadly don’t cook on their own. Above all, your interview shouldn’t come across as one long interrogation. It’s a two way street – nannies choose families as much as families choose nannies.
So here is your life saver! Based on hundreds of interviews that we conduct through myTamarin Childcare Matchmaker, here are seven most effective questions to ask your prospective nanny (or any other type of child carer).
1. The icebreaker: Why did you become a nanny? What do you like most about your job (and what the least)?
This should be easy to start with. And if not, it’s telling too. But keep in mind that job interviews can be very stressful and nannies are no exceptions in this regard. So ease them into an interview, kindly and patiently. Ask follow up questions if needed.
This question should nevertheless encourage nannies to share their motivations, likes and dislikes. No one likes dealing with toddler tantrums. (Right?) Don’t expect nannies to like every single aspect of their jobs, though on balance it’s hopefully still their favourite job.
2. The obvious: Tell me about your last job. And the one before, etc. (The number and age of children, your hours and duties, your daily routine.) What did you like about this job, and what not? Why did you leave?
Try to get a good sense of how nannies structure their days, and whether that resonates with your parenting mantra, or alternatively 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. There is nothing wrong with leaving a job because it wasn’t right. It takes two to tango. As with romantic relationships, a good match is based on compatibility beyond just availability and geographic proximity. And this is why at myTamarin we match parents with nannies based on parenting style, character, values and beliefs.
3. The future: What are your dreams and hopes for the future in terms of your career, and life generally?
Who doesn’t like to dream?! Give your potential nanny an opportunity to share with you her ambitions, goals and plans. The other day, I loved hearing about one nanny’s plan to save money to start her own nursery. Without any pressure, the answers will reveal how committed nannies are to any particular kind of job and/or location.
4. The personal: Tell me about your own family. How did you grow up and/or how did you raise your family?
Your potential nanny will have an opportunity to share her family values, which may or may not resonate with you, as well as any constraints for working, for example if she has small children herself, or an elderly to look after.
A nanny once told me, “I grew up in a rather formal household with lots of help in our home. I feel much more comfortable working with people who grew up with help as well.” Fair enough.
5. The happy: What kind of families make you happy? What is most important for you to feel comfortable in a job?
This is nanny’s opportunity to share her expectations of you as her employer. And of course your opportunity to decide whether you can live up to those expectations, or not.
For example, you may work unpredictable hours and travel a lot for work. If nanny needs predictability and dislikes last-minute changes to her own working hours, be honest about your ability to deliver on this expectation.
6. The annoying: No one is perfect. What type of things that families do annoy you (the most)?
People like the opportunity to complain. And it’s a great chance for you to assess compatibility.
When I was hiring a nanny for our family, one nanny’s answer was “when family leave dirty dishes in the sink in the morning, and I have to put them into a dishwasher.” You can judge my housekeeping habits me as much as you want, but I knew immediately she wouldn’t be a good match for us.
7. The closing: What do you like doing in your free time?
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.
Finally, be prepared to answer these, and similar questions yourself. Nannies choose families as much as families choose nannies.