This piece is in response to my last post, Six Signs You’ve Found the Right Nanny.
In the interview process, both parties are evaluating each other. These six things are good signs that you will enjoy working with the family you’re interviewing with.
Just like you should be ready for the interview, so should the parent you are interviewing with. They should be ready to welcome you into their home when you arrive. A level of chaos is okay – after all, they are hiring a nanny – but the interviewer should be prepared to interview you. She should have a list of questions, ask about your previous work experience, and try to understand your situation. An interview with time constraints or where she seems distracted is not a good sign.
Two: Un-Flustered Demeanor
Regardless of crazy kids or a messy house, the mother should still feel like the authority figure in the home. She should not get upset when her kid spills his food in front of the interviewing nanny, or if the dog runs through the house. It’s her house, and she has nothing to apologize for. If it feels to you like she doesn’t know how to handle her children or her house, it might be better to look for a different family.
Three: Safe Working Environment
There are many facets to this, but the main one is that you feel you can keep the children safe in their home. Look for cords, choking hazards, or overly nice furniture that the children are not allowed on. Does the home seem kid-friendly? Trust me, you don’t want to spend the majority of your working hours demanding that Timmy spit out something that was most definitely not a toy. If the house doesn’t feel safe, for any reason at all, you don’t want to be working there. Period.
Four: Fair Compensation (Not Just Money!)
Money can be a fabulous incentive to work with a family, but remember that cash is not all there is. Working fifty hours a week with a family you can’t stand is not a good situation for you – even if you do bring home $1200 a week. Instead, ask about vacation days, weekends off, and what happens when you’re sick. Will the family reimburse mileage? What about food costs? Fair compensation isn’t just about who throws the most money at you; it should be about creating an agreement that both of you can handle and are happy with.
Five: Reasonable Expectations
I recently interviewed with a family who said online they were seeking a “Hands-On Nanny for One Child.” The pay was decent, and the woman sounded nice over the phone, so I went ahead and did the interview.
They were most certainly not looking for a nanny.
The family was made up of three children, all under the age of two. I was expected to care for the eldest, a sweet 18 month old girl who just wanted to play. The mother, however, had different ideas. She had a schedule for every fifteen minutes of that child’s day, down to the amount of time regularly allotted for play doh and craft time. I was expected to take the girl to gymnastics lessons, piano lessons (for a toddler?!), and participate in all of those with her. I was also expected to build lesson plans for the child as well as preforming the normal duties of feeding, playing, and cleaning up after ourselves.
For that kind of work, the pay and benefits needed to be much, much higher.
When you’re interviewing, make sure you understand what the parents want from you. If the expectations are too high, it’s better to communicate that immediately and see if they’re flexible. If they’re not, it’s time to move on.
Six: Your Gut Says Yes!
Your gut feeling about a family is your strongest asset. A family can meet all the qualifications above and way more, but if you just don’t feel right about them, you have the right to say “I’m sorry, I just don’t think I’m a good fit for your family,” and move on. There are plenty of families out there and the worst thing you can do is settle with a family that you have a bad feeling about. Chances are, the relationship will fall apart and you’ll be right back out there job hunting. If you do get a great feeling about the family, though, then go for it!