Interviewing a potential nanny can be a daunting, stressful task. But this person will be caring for your child out of your sight every day, and the impact your nanny can have on your child’s emotional, physical, and intellectual well-being can be profound. Conducting an effective and thorough interview is the first step toward making sure that impact is profoundly good and not profoundly damaging. Here are some suggestions for questions to ask a potential nanny during an interview.
Aim to learn as much as you can about your potential nanny’s previous childcare experience. It’s helpful to know what kinds of issues she has dealt with, which issues she might be unfamiliar with, and whether she’s had any problems with any charges or with bosses. Some important childcare questions include:
-Tell me about your previous nanny jobs. How old were the children, how long did you have the jobs, and what kinds of hours did you work?
-What was your favorite nanny job?
-Have you ever had a conflict with a boss? How was it resolved?
-What’s your favorite part about being a nanny? Least favorite?
-Can I contact your previous employers?
-What do you think your previous employers would say your best qualities were? Your worst?
-What was the most stressful day you ever had on the job as a nanny?
A nanny with a master’s degree is by no means a necessity, but a nanny who can read, write, help your child with homework, and intelligently answer your child’s questions absolutely is. Find out about your nanny’s educational achievements and skills in order to see if she is a good match for your family. Some educational questions to ask:
-What kind of education have you had?
-Have you taken any classes on child development or early childhood education?
-Are you CPR and First Aid certified? If not, are you willing to become certified before you begin to work? (NEVER hire a nanny who is not CPR certified — it may put your child’s life in danger).
A good nanny is one who will be fully devoted to your child. While this does not mean your nanny has to be making nannying her career, at the very least you need a nanny who will take the job seriously. Some questions to ask in this regard include:
-How did you get into nannying?
-Why do you want to be a nanny?
-What do you like most about being a nanny? Least?
-Where do you expect to be in one year? In five years?
-Can you commit to this job for at least a year?
A nanny who shows up on time, who gives as much notice as possible when sick, and who is good at being an employee is an absolute must when your ability to go to work each day hangs in the balance. Important questions to ask about this topic include:
-What do you do to make sure you’re on time even if there’s traffic?
-What do you think is an acceptable number of times to be late to a job?
-How much notice would you give if you were sick? If you were taking a vacation? If you were quitting?
-What do you do to ensure that there’s good communication between yourself and the parents of the child you’re nannying for?
These questions are perhaps the most important questions to ask a potential nanny and are the most often overlooked. You need to make sure that your nanny shares your childcare and parenting philosophy and will be a supportive team member for your family. Some questions to ask about childcare philosophy include:
-How do you feel about spanking?
-What discipline methods do you use?
-What would you do if a baby would not stop screaming?
-How would you handle a temper tantrum in a store?
-How much children should children under two be allowed to watch? (Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics says they should watch none)
-How much time should children spend watching television a day?
-Are you comfortable helping with homework?
-Are you comfortable driving the kids?
-What kinds of activities do you like to do with kids?
-How do you deal with picky eaters?
-Is there anything you often see parents do that you dislike?
-Would you be comfortable telling me if you had a suggestion for changing the way we do something? (a nanny who says no is a nanny who will not be an assertive and helpful team member)
-How would you answer difficult questions about sex, god, morality, or other controversial issues?
For most questions, there is no single one right answer unless the question pertains to your child’s safety. The goal is to find a nanny who is the best fit for your particular family dynamic, who is aware of developmentally appropriate behavior, discipline, learning, etc., who will add order and love to your home, who will respect you but still be willing to speak up, and who will help your child grow and develop morally, academically, physically, and psychologically.