Hiring a nanny is a big decision. A nanny is someone who will be coming into your home, many days a week, and will be providing care for the most precious part of your life - your child. So of course the hiring process can be an overwhelming prospect for parents. This is doubly so if you don’t have much experience interviewing and hiring people. As we all know, someone can interview well but not be the great candidate they seemed to be at first.
So, how do you find the best nanny? What should you be looking out for during the interview process to make sure you hire the right person? Which questions should you be asking during the first (and second) nanny interview? In Inceptive's course ‘Interviewing Tips to Hire the Best Fit Nanny,’ Alyce Desrosiers, LCSW, goes over these questions, and more, to help parents master the art of hiring the right nanny. Ms. Desrosiers has over 24 years of experience helping parents find the right nanny for their family and founded The Institute for Families and Nannies, a nonprofit focused on providing education, training, resources, and advocacy for everyone invested in a child’s development.
The decision to hire a nanny is both pragmatic and emotional. Your family has a need for someone to assist with childcare, and so you are going to hire someone to fill that need. But, hiring someone for childcare is not the same as hiring a gardener - this is someone who will be stepping into a parenting role. This can cause a lot of emotional reactions in parents, and understandably so! In fact, how you feel about hiring a nanny will influence your hiring decisions.
The fact that this decision is pragmatic and emotional means that you will be using two parts of yourself to make this decision - your pragmatic head and your emotional heart. Together, these two parts will inform your ‘gut’. According to Ms. Desrosiers, learning to trust your gut is a key part of the hiring decision.
Before beginning the search for your nanny, you need to understand your priorities and preferences. Consider carefully exactly what role you would like your nanny to have, what are the absolute must-haves and deal breakers for you? What key skills and traits would your perfect nanny have? These answers will inform the questions you will ask potential nannies.
The interview process itself should be a three-stage process:
- First interview: This is where you get to know your nanny’s experience, learn about why they work as a nanny, their communication style, and delve into their style of childcare. This more formal interview should give you insight into whether or not this particular nanny is a fit for your family. This is where the questions you asked yourself before starting the hiring process will come in very handy.
- Second interview: This will be a more informal second interview, for the candidates that passed the first stage. In this one, there will be some direct care for your child involved, getting to know each other better, and any questions that you may have forgotten to ask in the first interview can be answered.
- The trial: The third stage, for the best one or two candidates, is a paid trial that should last one or two weeks.
In the course, Ms. Desrosiers goes over some of the questions that you could use to effectively get to know your nanny during each stage of this process, but at each stage, she stresses that the most important thing you can do is use your mind and heart in concert to make your decision. In short, trusting your gut is the key to hiring the right nanny.
Ms. Desrosiers recommends taking the time after each part of the process to check in with yourself. How do you feel that the candidate performed? She provides two scales to rate the candidate on-- one for the heart and one for the head. The heart scale, your emotional reaction to this person, includes rating the candidate on traits like warmth, empathy, and if they are genuine, reasonable and trustworthy. The head scale, your logical and pragmatic side, includes ratings on experience (especially with children similar to your own in age or needs), knowledge, consistency, communication and collaboration. Giving each candidate a rating on both scales, this system will allow you to take a look at each candidate in a holistic manner. How do you feel that they would perform as your child’s nanny? Do you think that there are any potential issues with their particular style of childcare?
The important thing to do is to check in with these heart and head ratings after each stage of the interview process. As you get to know your candidates better, you will have more insight into these traits and values, and you will be able to adjust your scale accordingly. Remember, though - keep your expectations reasonable! No one is perfect, and sometimes we have to adjust what we want. The number one priority is finding a person who will keep your child safe and care for them well.
In this article, we covered the importance of your heart, mind, and gut in the hiring process. To learn more about the questions you should be asking during the hiring process, enroll in Inceptive's course ‘Interviewing Tips to Hire the Best Fit Nanny’ and get great expert advice.