Hiring a Nanny: The Top Ten Questions to Ask

Choosing a nanny can be a very daunting experience; you are essentially choosing someone to take care of your most precious possession. Catrina Linz guides us through the top ten questions you should be asking

Interviewing a nanny can be tricky as nannies generally relate to children more than adults and can feel nervous in an interview situation. Consider that a nanny doesn’t have to be amazing in an interview to be an amazing nanny to your child. The goal of your interview is not to cross examine her on child development knowledge (though that is important) but instead question her on things that will help you to understand her values and get to know her as a person. Be open and honest with your nanny and tell her to do the same, learn about her likes and dislikes, her approach to routines, weaning and discipline, so that together you can discuss expectations and decide if you’re a good match for each other. Also decide if you want a nanny that is going to take direction from you or if you would like a nanny that is going to be able to guide you. Regardless of the interview, you’re a mother and you know what you want so your gut and maternal instincts will guide you.

Key questions to cover:

1. Background/experience/qualifications

Tell me about yourself (interests/family situation/relationship) what is your childcare experience and do you have any qualifications?

The first question you want to ask your nanny is about her background, this is how you’ll get to know her and help gauge her knowledge, reliability, commitment and values. Childcare qualifications aren’t necessarily a necessity depending on your preferences; so much knowledge can be gained purely from work experience. Consider how long she has stayed with each family and how many children she is used to dealing with and what her role was. Your nanny should be comfortable with you contacting her references.

2. Safeguarding/first aid

What is your knowledge on safeguarding, child protection and first aid?

Safety is a top priority. Her answer should reflect a good understanding of safeguarding your little one, and demonstrate that your child’s safety is her main concern at all times. She should be aware of child protection; for example, will she be taking photos? If this is a concern for you consider having a “nanny mobile” that she could use. Does she have current, up-to-date first aid training and feel confident dealing with an emergency, should one arise?

3. Expectations

What are your job and salary expectations? Are you happy to do child-related household duties and have sole charge?

This will be personal to your situation and what you need but these expectations need to be laid out from the start so that everyone is on the same page and knows who is responsible for what. You also need to decide what is important to you as there will be moments when household duties will need to be weighed up against childcare – you never want childcare duties to be neglected due to household duties. Salary should be based on experience, working hours, duties and contract type. Identify who will be in control; sole charge nanny generally means the nanny will have sole care for the child, but the parent can have the control over the schedule and structure of the day.

4. Discipline / positive guidance

How would you deal with discipline and giving positive guidance?

You want your nanny to be on board with your discipline expectations and methods. Your nanny should approach discipline in a very positive manner so that your child learns and understands that actions have consequences. She should want to guide your child to show love, respect and care not only for people but surroundings as well.

5. Healthy eating / cooking

What is your understanding of healthy eating habits and how competent are you at cooking, different approaches to weaning, and do you have any favourite recipes?

Think about if you would like your nanny writing up a menu and cooking from scratch, or if you would like to guide her or even prepare some of the food yourself. Your nanny should have a basic understanding of healthy eating and snacking, as well as ways to encourage good eating habits. Discussing her favourite recipes will help you understand her level of cooking ability (bear in mind there are lovely cooking courses you can send her on). If she is with your child over meal times it would be good if she sat down and ate with your child as this is great for learning social graces and interaction.

6. Smart phone literate / daily diary / contact

How would you like to communicate during the day?

Would you like your nanny to be smart phone literate so she can send you photos (ask her to capture “Kodak moments” that you might miss), texts and daily updates? Perhaps you would prefer to have a daily diary (nap times, meals, focus of the day) that she writes in or just a verbal catch up at the end of the day.

7. Scenarios

How would you deal with typical scenarios personal to our family?

Give your nanny typical/personal scenario that might happen in your home and see how she may deal with it. You nanny’s answer may be totally different to how you would deal with a situation normally but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right way, you may be surprised and learn something!

8. Activities

What activities would you do with my child?

This is a question that they know what answers you will want to hear. In their answer see if they are giving you generic typical answers (Going to the park, playgroups…etc.) or if they come up with anything different and unique. Perhaps they have some lovely messy play ideas and aren’t afraid to let your child have sensory experiences, are they willing to expose your child to the wonders around them like going to the theatre or linking home activities like painting to visiting an art gallery. Look for initiative, excitement and eagerness in their answer.

9. Contract

What you happy to sign a contract?

Your nanny will be an employee so create a contract that states salary, hours, sick days, paid vacation, potential raises, and any rules/guides you want them to follow. You can always download a contract online if you need to. It feels extreme, but it’s best to set expectations from the start. Remember you will need to register your nanny for “nanny tax” as well.

10. Values

Why are you a nanny and what are your personal values and beliefs?

In her answer you should be able to hear that she is passionate and has a love for children, she should find joy in caring for and nurturing children and that is why she has chosen this career. Her values and beliefs will be personal but as long as they align with yours that is the answer you’ll be looking for.