The interview process for hiring a nanny is hard. I’ve only been on one side of it, but over the years parents have shared with me how they decide if they want to hear from a nanny again.
Most of the time, a nanny is hired after a single interview and maybe a trial day. This isn’t a lot of time to figure out if you can trust this girl with your children. There are, however, six signs during your initial time with your potential nanny that indicate you’ve found a good nanny.
The potential nanny should arrive on time. I myself have trouble with this. I’m not late – that would be super unprofessional – but I do have a bad habit of being very early to new interviews. It’s nerves for me, but most of the time I end up driving around the block or knocking on the door ten minutes before I should. The ideal candidate will arrive no earlier than five minutes before your agreed upon interview time, and she will not be late.
If she is late, give her a chance to explain, but it is definitely a mark down. Unless there was an earthquake that brought down all the bridges onto your privately owned island, she should have planned for issues like traffic or a class running late.
Regardless of her profession or the proposed job, this is still an interview. The nanny should be dressed in conservative business-casual clothes. I usually wear grey slacks (black picks up dog hair super easily), a casual blouse, and nice sneakers or flats. Unless you’re hiring a part-time sitter under the age of eighteen, a nanny who shows up to an interview in jeans and a tee-shirt might not value the job as much as you want her to.
She should great you and the children, but make it very clear that you are her focus.
This usually goes along with professionalism, but I believe it deserves it’s own category. This involves showing up ready for an interview. She should have a list of questions, a notepad for notes about the children, and have her own pens and other supplies.
If she has a business card, hire her on the spot.
Four: Reacts Well to the Children
There is absolutely no guarantee that your kids will run to the nanny immediately like a moment from Mary Poppins. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had parents tell me that “the kids just ran away” so they didn’t hire the nanny. If your kids run away, that’s a GOOD THING! This nanny you’re interviewing is a stranger. Don’t you tell you kids to run away from strangers?
The trick is for the nanny to react well to this. If she’s worth her salt, she’ll know that kids act strangely around, well, strangers. She won’t get upset or try to entice them. She’ll introduce herself, and pay attention to them if the child demands it, but she will continue to focus on the interview at hand.
Five: Positive Demeanor
There’s a common misconception that a nanny should always be smiling. This isn’t true. Do you want to hire a laughing, carefree nanny, or a serious one? Her smile (or lack of it) should not be your focus in an interview; instead, look for warmth and care. I promise those traits shine in a good nanny. Look for how she interacts with you, your pets, and your kids. Does she make eye-contact? Does she ask real questions, not just smile and nod? Does she come across as honest and hard-working? If she does, chances are you’ve found the right girl for you.
Six: Your Gut Says Yes
Hiring a nanny or finding childcare for your kids really does come down to your gut. Even if the girl has perfect qualifications, comes highly recommended, and aced the interview; if you just don’t feel right about her, that’s a legitimate reason to say “I’m sorry, I just don’t think we’re the right fit.”
I’ll be writing more about interviews (on both sides) later on, but for now, if your nanny meets the six signs above, hang on to her! Great nannies are hard to find!