Finding a good nanny can be an extremely overwhelming process. You want to look for a caretaker you can trust but you don’t know where to start. A few years ago I shared my experience with my friends by writing an email including the method I tried and the types of questions to interview nannies. That email was eventually circulated to their friends and now I decided I should blog about it to help more parents.
When I was looking for a nanny, I felt like it was impossible to find one. I was thinking “how am I going to trust a stranger to take care of my daughter when I’m at work?” I had to try so I posted an ad in the newspaper. This resulted in an enormous amount of phone calls (about 60-70 a day). I was actually getting really annoyed when the phone was ringing nonstop so I let them go to voicemail. Then I listened to the voicemails and filtered by how they sounded (professionalism, politeness, etc). Obviously this was not a good way to judge the applicants but I couldn’t possibly pick up 70 calls a day while taking care of baby duties. I responded to only about 20% of the voicemails. The ad ran for 7 days. I didn’t hire anyone even after speaking to them in person. I felt very disappointed and discouraged so I stopped looking all together. Two weeks later, I posted an ad again. This time, it ran for 3 days and I responded to 50% of the voicemails but still nothing. Third time, I decided to change the strategy. I ran the ad for 7 days and I asked my husband to help me with the interview process. We responded to every single voicemail and missed calls. I divided the process into 2 rounds. First round, my husband would ask the applicants on the phone a list of questions I prepared. Then he gave me the names of the ones he liked and I reached out to them to schedule the second round, in person interview. I had a different list of questions for the second round (the list of questions are below the article). For the ones I liked, I asked them to stay for a trial run and agreed with them on the number of hours and the pay in advance. Having the trial run is incredibly useful in determining how good of a fit they would be. Observe how they interact with your child and how well they understand your instructions. You can have them work 1-2 hours or a whole day if you want. Just make sure it’s something you both agree upon so there are no surprises. Once you find someone that you decide to hire, you need to iron out the compensation details and the job responsibilities. It’s best to have everything in writing before the nanny starts working for you.
Here are the questions I prepared that helped me narrow down my search.
First Round - phone interview
1) how many years of experience do you have?
2) what are the ages of the children you cared for?
3) where do you live? (important to take the nanny’s commute time into consideration if you hire a live-out)
4) do you drive? (useful if you need the nanny to drop off/pick up kids)
5) do you know CPR?
6) do you have any references?
7) why are you looking for a new job?
Second Round - in person interview
Some of these questions may seem very corporate but their answer may give you more insight to their personality. It’s not always a right or wrong answer. It’s the way they answer that’s important.
1) why are you a nanny?
2) what do you like most about being a nanny?
3) what do you like least about being a nanny?
4) what will you teach my child?
5) what activities will you do with my child?
6) what do children like most about you?
7) how do you comfort children when they cry? (provide an example)
8) what would you do if our opinions or methods differ?
9) can you provide the names/numbers of families I can call for references?
There are other options besides posting ad in newspaper. You can contact nanny agencies or check online bulletin boards/mommy groups for your neighborhood to see if anyone is trying to find jobs for their nannies (many times families help their nannies find new jobs if they have to move or when their kids start going to school full day).
I hope these tips will help you navigate this stressful process easier and smoother. For parents returning back to work, I highly recommend starting the search 2 months beforehand if possible. You need time to find a nanny as well as have enough time to spend with the hired nanny throughout the transition period.
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