Hiring a nanny is super stressful. I know, I’ve been there. These are a few helpful questions to ask when in search of Mary Poppins:
Start with a telephone interview. State the start date, hours and salary. If your alarm bell is going off or this person is not a good fit, move on. If you like the answers the prospective nanny is giving you, discuss the responsibilities you’re looking for. You’ll go into greater detail in person when you meet face-to-face.
General Questions and Topics to Discuss with Your Potential Nanny:
Describe your ideal family/employer.
How do you comfort children? How do you deal with separation anxiety?
How do you discipline a child? Give me an example of a previous discipline problem and how you handled it.
How do you feel about playdates, and what are your favorite activities to do with a child?
Discuss your expectations on the types of activities that you want your child to be involved with throughout the week.
Do you smoke? If so, bye bye.
Are you willing to do light chores while the child is sleeping? Be very clear what housework you would like to be done if they’re willing to do any. This can get sticky once you hire a nanny if they were not expecting to take on the required housework. Tension can mount very quickly. Note that it is typical for a full-time nanny to straighten and/or clean the child’s space.
Will you stay late? Babysit on the weekend?
It is imperative that you (the employer) make a personal copy of their driver’s license and/or passport. This allows you to do a criminal search online before hiring, and if there were ever to be a problem, you have copies to provide to the authorities.
Questions About Safety:
CPR and Infant/Child First Aid certifications
Address safety concerns such as car seat installation and helmet use (scooters and bikes for older kids)—and for those mamas in NYC or an equivalent metro, taxi safety needs to be addressed
Choking hazards—cut food into strips to avoid choking (hot dogs and grapes, this is a huge requirement for my nanny)
Familiar with 911, Poison Control numbers, local hospitals—where to go in the neighborhood in general
Questions About Previous Experience:
What previous experience do you have?
How many families have you regularly babysat for in the past?
Describe your last childcare experience and why it ended?
What are the ages of the children you’ve looked after?
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your previous experience?
Can you provide me with the names and addresses of two previous employers? If not, why?
Use references to confirm facts that your potential nanny has told you. Verify details of employment, job title, year in school or when graduated, and other fact-based questions. This helps to validate the truthfulness of the reference. I once had a reference call, and the nanny had lied. Not smart.
Specify your schedule
Discuss pay schedule
Will you pay for holidays?
Number of sick days
Metro Card for those NYC-ers
Required start date
Discuss any probationary period
I’ve also had several friends audition the finalists to observe the chemistry between the child and the nanny. If any of you mamas want to add to this list, we would love to hear from you.