Hiring a qualified and trustworthy nanny will take a load off your mind and free up your schedule. Whether you’re a work-from-home professional or a stay-at-home mother earning your master’s degree, bringing a nanny into your household will enable you to carve out some free time for yourself or meet other commitments outside the home.
The media is full of news stories that highlight the dangers of choosing the wrong nanny, as well as the perils that can befall families that do not thoroughly screen nannies before hiring them.
Fortunately, hiring the right nanny does not have to be an anxiety-ridden process. Listed below are the steps that will help you choose the right nanny for your children.
1. Define your nanny’s role in the family.
Before you start calling nanny agencies and asking fellow parents for recommendations, decide on the role your future nanny will play in the family as well as your expectations from your nanny.
Do you want a nanny who just stays at home and looks after children, or will your nanny also take the children to the park, kindergarten, play dates, and other places? Will your nanny have to drive to these places?
Do you expect your nanny to perform additional tasks, like cooking for your children, doing their laundry, cleaning their room, and disinfecting their toys?
Think also about your requirements for the nanny’s training and experience Do you want a nanny who’s certified in CPR, qualified in first aid, and trained in child development? How many years of experience should your nanny have? Based on your expectations, you’ll also need to determine the salary range and benefits you’ll offer your nanny.
Consider also the working arrangements. Will the nanny work part-time or full-time? Can she live with your family, or should she live nearby? If your nanny won’t live with your family, should she be flexible enough to work extra hours, weekends, or stay overnight when necessary? Will you require your nanny to travel with you and your family?
2. Start searching for prospective nannies.
Once you’re done outlining your expectations, you may start looking for candidates. You can advertise on your own, ask fellow parents for suitable recommendations, or contact an agency that specializes in nanny placements. Ideally, the nanny agency should be affiliated with the International Nanny Association. If you use an agency, you will need to pay a fee for the application and placement process.
3. Interview the prospective nannies and ask the right questions.
You’ll soon have a pool of candidates to interview. Write a list of questions and ask each nanny the same questions. Don’t forget to take detailed notes when interviewing each nanny, as it can be hard to remember which nanny said what later on.
Some parents and guardians prefer to conduct phone interviews followed by interviews in person, while others prefer to conduct thorough in-person interviews only. Whichever process you choose, don’t skip the in-person interview, as this will help you really get to know each candidate.
Here are some questions you can ask each prospective nanny:
- Why did you decide to become a nanny?
- What qualities do you think are important in a nanny?
- Describe your previous work with children and past employers.
- What do you love most about taking care of children?
- Do you have any training in child development?
- Are you proficient in CPR and first aid?
- What are your favorite activities with infants/toddlers/children?
- How do you handle children when they have temper tantrums?
- How do you discipline naughty children?
- (If the applicant is a foreigner) Are you legally permitted to work in the United States?
- How do you handle crises/injuries/accidents involving children in your care? Please give specific examples.
- Have you ever disagreed with an employer? How did you resolve the issue?
- Are you willing to undergo a background check and reference check?
- (If the applicant will drive) Will you allow me to check your driving record?
- What do you expect from me as a potential employer?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions that might make the candidate uncomfortable:
- Do you have a criminal record?
- Do you have any driving convictions?
- Have you been blacklisted by any past employer?
Ask each prospective nanny as many relevant questions as necessary. Gauge each applicant’s response, and take note if some questions make applicants uncomfortable or evasive. Also, don’t forget to let each candidate ask as many questions as needed in turn.
4. Conduct thorough background and reference checks.
Following the in-person interviews, you’ll have a tighter pool of finalists to choose from. You can remove candidates who refuse to consent to background and reference checks from your hiring pool. Those who do consent to background and reference checks should sign a statement that authorizes you to do so.
Even if your nanny agency states that it conducts background checks, make it a point to conduct your own. You may use reputable people search websites to obtain background reports on each nanny.
Background reports collect all publicly available information about individuals and present them in bio pages. The information that can be found in these reports include social media posts, financial information, criminal records, and employment information, etc. If the background report contains overly negative information about the candidate, you may remove that candidate from your hiring pool.
Background reports from reputable people search websites may also contain testimonials written by the individual’s family, friends, colleagues, employers, and others in their circle. Read these testimonials to gain a better understanding of each candidate’s character traits.
Just as importantly, contact the candidates’ references, especially their past employers. Ask past employers if the candidates were reliable, if they took good care of their charges, and if they would employ the same nannies again.
5. Let the finalists meet your children.
Candidates that have passed all stages in the hiring process should be allowed to meet your children. Consider hiring each nanny for a full day or weekend, and observe how well they bond with your children and how efficiently they perform their duties.
If there is a genuine connection between the nanny and your children, and if she performs her duties well, then you’ve found the ideal secondary caregiver for your children. If your children are old enough, ask them if they like the nanny and if they want to be looked after by her.
You need to be very thorough in the screening process when choosing a nanny. After all, you’re entrusting the care and well-being of your beloved children to someone else. Hence, you should do everything in your power to ensure that you’ve entrusted the right person with this task.