December 20, 2010,
M.J. asks from Dundee, IL on December 16, 2010
What Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Nanny?
We are in the process of hiring someone to come into our home to provide childcare for our 3 children. This is the first time we are going through this interviewing process and would like to know what are some good questions to ask? What things should we be looking out for, etc. If you have any advice on this subject I would love to hear it. Thanks!
M.3. answers from Chicago on December 16, 2010
I agree with Leslee. In my opinion the best way to see how a nanny will fit with your kids and family is to watch how she is interacts with your kids. Is she warm and freindly? Does she get down to their level? Does she seem interested in them? Does she ask them questions...what do they like?, can they show her their room?, etc. Most important...Do your kids seem to like like her? Do they want to go by her when she's over? Do they want to talk to her? Do they want to show her their toys?
*What do you antcipate your day looking like when your here?
*What are her thoughts/philosophies on disipline? - If they are different from yours is she willing to to follow your plan?
*Is she willing to follow your daily plans (nap times, meal times, actvities, etc.)?
*How does she handle fighting between siblings?
*How much tv does she allow?
*Agree on pay,days off,vaction,sick days,calling in sick ---make sure you discuss and have it all setteled on so there is no confusion when it happens down the road. I always signed contracts so we could refer to it if needed.
Overall...go with your gut. If you feel like it's a good fit it probably is. If you get a feeling that something is off...don't use that person. Check references as well. Good luck!
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A.G. answers from Boston on December 16, 2010
I would add how she would handle a sick kid? Same as daycare policy or will she still watch them
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L.L. answers from Topeka on December 16, 2010
A.K. answers from Minneapolis on December 16, 2010
here's an interview sheet, but I would highlight the ones that are most important, because it is a lot of questions:
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H.W. answers from Portland on December 16, 2010
I liked Lesley's list of questions ( although I personally would have let the boy wear the dress at home and then change if we needed to go out... but I'm pretty loose about that...)
I think I would ask about situations that regularly happen in your house. Do you have two kids that tend to go at each other, or a child who gets upset easily? "What would you do...." questions can be helpful. Recently, when I started my preschool, one parent came right out and asked me "What do you do when you need to use the bathroom?", which I actually thought was a great question. ("Wait until I can see the children are settled, that there are no potential conflicts, and then I use it, wash my hands and get right back out there")
I'd also ask about cellphone/texting use during work. This is hard to monitor, but if the interviewee can't separate from their phone, you've got trouble. A question like "How often during the day do you usually need to text or talk on the phone?" or "How do you feel about texting friends when the kids are busy playing, at home or at the park?" The reason I suggest this is because as a former nanny I met *a lot* of other nannies who were on their phones or texting while the kids played at the park. Instead of keeping their eyes on the children, they were looking down, and a lot can happen in a flash, depending on where you are at and the other people there.
I'd also be on the lookout for drama. If it's apparent during the interview (or if they have to reschedule more than once), you might choose to be wary. Drama usually signifies days missed, calling in sick, etc., and overall, a distracted caregiver who may not have good boundaries.
Ask about personal interests/hobbies. If she has few, or if partying is one of them, consider how much she can offer your children as a person. If she likes to travel, will that effect her work for you? Is she working on a degree, and if so, does this require being out of town to complete the coursework?
And if she has children, what is her back-up plan if the kids are sick?
I hope you find a great match for your family. Best wishes.
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L.S. answers from Spokane on December 16, 2010
Hours of work, pay, holidays, evenings (if not part of contract).
Does she have her own vehicle to get to and from your house?
Is she willing to drive the children to and from activities, playdates, etc?
Ask for references and CHECK THEM OUT!
What is her experience with other children, especially those the ages of yours?
Will she bring her own meals?
Will she be doing housework as well?
Does her discipline style match yours?
What kinds of activities will she do with your children? (library, outside, etc)
One question I was asked when interviewing for a nanny position was "if our 3 year old son demands to wear his big sister's dress, what would you do?" My answer was that I'd choose two of his OWN outfits and let him pick from those. (ps. I got the job). By asking a question like this you can find out a lot about how she problem solves, her tolerances, her understanding of young children, whether or not she'd treat your children with respect, etc.
Also if possible, have her meet your children and see how she interacts with them. Does she get down to their level and introduce herself? Does she seem genuinely interested in your children and ask them about themselves?
Good luck with your search. Remember to follow your gut too....someone may look great on paper and say all the right things, but if you just get bad vibes from them then they're not right for your family.
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J.Y. answers from Chicago on December 17, 2010
I would recommend asking open-ended questions that don't "give away" the answers you would like to hear. How would you handle the situation if...? What types of discipline do you use and give examples of the behaviors that you would use them on? What do you imagine a typical day to look like in the summer? In the winter? What were the best qualities of your past employers? What was most frustrating about your past employers? What are your ideal working hours? What can we do to help you feel appreciated if you worked for us? Have you ever had to handle an emergency and tell me about it? What do you feel would be your responsibilities as a nanny? What kind of household responsibilities are you comfortable performing? Do you like to set a schedule for the kids, have the parents set the schedule, or go with a mostly unstructured day and why? What are your favorite things to do with kids? What part of being a nanny is your least favorite or most stressful?
I highly recommend you discuss and put in writing all aspects of her duties, as well as all information about pay, taxes, sick days, and vacations. I worked as a nanny for several years, and it was very helpful to have everything we agreed upon in writing. It was much easier for me to bring things to their attention when I had a contract to refer to.
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L.S. answers from Chicago on December 20, 2010
We have 3 kids, ages 2, 5 and 7, and have had several live-in and live-out nannies over the past 7 years. I feel like somewhat of a pro at this point at interviewing and selecting nannies - and, believe me, some of that "expertise" has come by learning from past mistakes.
First though, to respond to something incorrect that Chris S. wrote (and I am an attorney) - you can lawfully ask ANY question you want of a prospective nanny. There are no unlawful or "off limits" questions since you are not considered to be an employer covered by the provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which prohibits job discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin). Title VII applies only to employers with 15 or more employees. In any event, even if Title VII did apply, an employer can ask or discriminate based on bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQs) reasonably necessary to normal business operations. Certainly asking a prospective nanny if they are on any medications or if they are legal to work in the U.S. is legitimately related to their ability to be trusted to care for your children, so Title VII wouldn't even prohibit these types of questions.
Back to your question though ... Do some research in advance to see if they have a Facebook and/or MySpace page, and also Google their name and, separately, their e-mail address to see if you can learn anything about them on your own. Ask them whether they have a Facebook and/or MySpace page. If they say they do, ask them to show it to you since this will give you a pretty good look at who they really are behind the interview facade. The last time we were interviewing prospective nannies, we discovered through independent research that one young woman had been arrested in another state for prostitution, but we thought it could be another person by the same name. When we asked her about it, she admitted to the arrest, but claimed that she had been released without being charged since it was all a mistake. We had no desire to consider her further at that point, but even if we had, the photos that she posted of herself on her MySpace page were so inappropriate (i.e., slutty) that we would never have hired her as our nanny.
As for any specific questions you should ask, you've already gotten some good advice from other moms about that, so I'll limit my advice to the 2 points I made and leave it at that. Good luck to you!