Screening And Interviewing Tips For Hiring An In-Home Childcare Provider
The task sounds easy – ask a potential nanny some questions and pick the right person for the job. But when your children are involved, you want to be extra cautious. Your favorite candidate may have all the right answers, but will she be the right replacement for you when you're at work? Does "Super Nanny" really exist? If so, how do you find her and not "Stinky Nanny"? Here, some nanny-seeking interrogation tactics to get you closer to "Super."
Turn the tables
Genevieve Thiers, childcare expert founder and CEO of Sittercity.com, which provides parents and sitters with a central location to find each other, suggests to ask, "What do you look for in an employer/family?" The nanny-to-be is the one on the spot – sure – but it's nice to know if she has requirements of her own. While you're the one looking to hire, it's important to know you're on the same page and have mutual things in common.
Speaking of being on the same page, though it may be a sensitive subject, Thiers points out that you should look into your potential nanny's religious affiliation. Ask, "Do you have any particular religious affiliation that might affect the way you care for our children?" Since it is such a sensitive issue, it's one that must be addressed. You don't want any misunderstandings when it comes to beliefs and values.
Discipline and patience are two other big factors, ones not always measurable by a simple conversation. In the event of your child's (rare) tantrum, though, you want to be assured she can handle it -- and how. Thiers advises you pointedly ask what disciplinary tactics your nanny interviewee has implemented in the past. Ask about spanking, for starters. If your nanny-to-be and you don't see eye to eye on this issue, but you believe she is still a strong candidate, ask "Are you willing to change if we ask?"
Interview tips to keep in mind
It's easy to get caught up in the moment. You may have been mulling over the nanny-hiring process for quite some time now and even fear you're becoming obsessed. We don't blame you ... your little one is a priority and you want to make sure your baby is in good hands when you go to work. When it comes to setting up interview appointments, though, be practical, not emotional. Having every applicant come out to your house is not only unnecessary, it's also a time suck you do not need.
Phone interviews: Instead, says Stacy DeBroff, author of The Mom Book; 4,278 Tips for Moms, narrow your candidates for in-person interviews to two or three through vigorous phone conversations. During this time (and at the actual interview itself, as well), DeBroff warns not to make the mistake of doing all of the talking. "Ask open-ended questions and try not to appear critical of her answers," she says. "Also, the more comfortable your tone, the more information a candidate will share about herself." You're not the focus of the interview, the potential hire is.
Check references: If you find that you absolutely adore a candidate and there's no need to go further, think again! Someone can be wonderful in person, but not necessarily in action. "Ask your candidate for the names and numbers of at least three references, preferably families she has worked for as a nanny or babysitter," DeBroff explains. Use those calls to verify information you received from the potential nanny, such as the length of employment, reason for leaving and strengths and weaknesses.
Do a gut check: Trust your instincts, too. The minute your interviewee opens his or her mouth, write down your first impression. These feelings are very important, as is the way your child interacts with her. "Make time for your child to meet your top candidates and observe the interaction," DeBroff adds.