How To Interview A Nanny

9 min read

Executive Summary

The interview is a key part of choosing the right nanny for your household. This article includes detailed tips to ensure you ask the right questions. Click each bullet point to skip to that section for more details.

Finding the right nanny to bring into your home is a big decision! After all, this person will be in your space and taking care of your kids and household. A key part of finding a nanny who’s the right fit for your family is the interview process. 

Whether you’re hiring on your own or using a nanny agency, by the time you get to the final interview all the administrative work is complete. You’ve reviewed their resumes, contacted references, and they’ve gone through an initial screening interview. Basics like schedule, location, and compensation have already been addressed. 

So think of the in-person interview as a meeting that’s all about your needs. The interview is where you get a sense of their “vibe.” Is this a person you want in your house? Does it seem like you can communicate well with them? 

“When [parents] interview, it’s really for what their gut is telling them,” says Jacey O’Neill with Westside Nannies. “Is this someone that they feel really comfortable talking to?”

O’Neill says these interviews are usually at your house and last about 45 minutes to an hour, or more. With that in mind, here are some more tips on how to interview a nanny, including sample questions.

How To Interview A Nanny: Clearly Define Your Needs

One of the main tips for how to interview a nanny is to go in with clear goals in mind. This will make the interview process more efficient. Dara Yates with Seaside Staffing says the main reason nanny placements don’t work out is because of “totally mismatched expectations.” So it’s important you know what you want and communicate it clearly!

If you work with a nanny agency, they’ll have helped you define your needs and schedule when crafting your job description. Whether or not you have an agency to help you, here are some questions I recommend you and your partner ask yourselves before the interview. 

  • What kind of relationship do you want with your nanny? Do you want them to be part of the family or do you see it as strictly a business relationship (ie: you only talk about the kids)? Or maybe somewhere in the middle?
  • Do you want them to have input and advise you, or stay quiet and do what you want when it comes to raising your kids?
  • Beyond childcare, do you want them to take on additional household tasks?

After thinking about these questions, I started interviewing nannies with three distinct goals in mind:

  1. Help to foster my child’s health, care, and development: Play with him while making him feel supported and safe.
  1. Be a household manager: Help with grocery shopping, keeping basic household supplies stocked, making baby food, doing extra laundry, and unloading the dishwasher. I wanted someone with natural problem-solving skills who could pick up other personal errands and tasks as needed.  
  1. Support my marriage and sanity: Be available for designated date nights (Wednesday and Friday nights) so my partner and I could plan nights away with friends or just be with each other.

How To Interview A Nanny: What Questions To Ask & How To Structure The Interview

nanny on picnic with kids, how to interview a nanny

Dara Yates with Seaside Staffing says the interview will be different for each family, since each household’s situation is unique. “Your questions are not going to be the same as other families’ questions —  it’s all very specific to the household,” she says. 

Even still, below are some sample questions I found helpful, along with how I structured the interview. 

Part 1: Get to know the applicant

General questions:

  • Tell us about yourself
  • Do you have family in the area?
  • What are your hobbies/interests?
  • Do you have a special diet or anything we should know about?

Work History:

  • What is the longest amount of time you have spent with one family?
  • What is your favorite age group and why?
  • Can you give us an example of your daily routine with a baby versus a toddler when nannying for another family?
  • What’s your favorite rainy-day activity?
  • How do you handle difficult situations like a crying baby?
  • Have you ever had a childcare emergency? For example, needing to call 9-1-1 or go to the ER?
  • How do you handle a child with a high fever?
  • How do you discipline children when they’re acting out?

Personality questions:

Jacey O’Neill with Westside Nannies says if you’re trying to get a feel for certain hard-to-measure skills like critical thinking, you could pose a hypothetical situation: “If XYZ were to happen, how would you respond?… If my child is throwing a tantrum, and you’re in the grocery store, and they put themselves on the ground, and they’re kicking and screaming, what do you do? How would you handle that situation?” 

Here are some other personality-based questions she recommends asking:

  • What do you love most about being a nanny?
  • What are the top qualities that children like and respond to in you?
  • What does your dream nanny job look like?
  • What qualities do you look for in the families you work for?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What would you be doing if you weren’t a nanny?

Part 2: Get to Know Us

After getting to know our potential nanny better, we shared some basics about ourselves and our family, such as:

  • How long we’ve been married
  • What our occupations are
  • Whether or not we were planning to have more kids 
  • What some of our interests and hobbies are (i.e. enjoy entertaining, traveling, movies)

Part 3: Talk through the proposed schedule, job expectations, and pay/benefits

A lot of this is already covered in the initial screening, but I still wanted to go over it in person to ensure we were all on the same page with scheduling (especially when it comes to travel and weekend coverage), job expectations (taking on household chores and not using screens for playtime), and pay/benefits. Here are some of the questions I asked when going over these three topics:

  • Are you able to provide Friday night/Saturday morning coverage or Saturday night/Sunday morning coverage?
  • How much of a desire for flexibility do you have?
  • Are you comfortable with staying overnight while we travel for an additional fee?
  • Are you comfortable traveling with us to locations for 3-5 consecutive days for an additional fee?
  • What time of year do you typically take vacations?

Part 4: Their turn to ask questions

Make sure you give the potential nanny a chance to ask you questions as well — ensuring it’s a good fit goes both ways! I made sure to…

  • Ask if they have any questions for us.
  • Ask if they have any concerns about anything we talked about (e.g. schedule, traveling, amount of hours)
  • Ask if there is anything extra they feel they need to share with us or ask us at this point

How To Interview A Nanny: What Questions NOT To Ask

Jacey O’Neill with Westside Nannies says another tip she shares with parents on how to interview a nanny is what questions to stay away from for legal reasons.

“We generally advise that they avoid anything regarding things like race, religion, age, sexual preference, marital status, medical history, things of that nature,” she says.

How To Interview A Nanny: Tap Into Your Intuition

parent talking to nannies how to interview a nanny

Remember, the main goal of the interview is to evaluate your comfort around this person. They’re going to influence your child’s personality, temperament, and behavior so it’s important that they share the same values and/or have a temperament that is agreeable to you.

“It comes down to intuition,” says Dara Yates with Seaside Staffing. 

If you’re having trouble tapping into your intuition, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Can you handle seeing them every day or every other day around your house, touching your things, and inevitably being a part of your family in some fashion?
  • Do you communicate well together?
  • Could you travel with them for 3 – 5 consecutive days?
  • Do they like to stay busy? In other words, will they be helpful with other chores around the house outside of childcare?
  • Would you want your baby to emulate or model their behavior or look in any way?

Need help building a support team at home? Download my parenting guide: 3 Steps to Hiring Support at Home. And don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our latest articles in your inbox.

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