What Questions Should I Ask During a Nanny Interview?

Two women sitting beside table and talking

You’ve sifted through a sea of resumes and narrowed down your search. Now, it’s time to take a closer look at your candidates

Ask them nanny interview questions to get to know them better and see how they’d fit into your family. 

Remember, no question is too small for a nanny interview. From navigating a melt-down in the grocery store to knowing the Heimlich Maneuver, an in-depth interview is key. 

A good nanny interview gives you the confidence to make a job offer or motivates you to keep looking. 

Starting with the nuts and bolts

Start with the deal breakers before moving to the next steps:

  • What’s your rate?
  • Do you have a driver’s license? 
  • When are you available to start?
  • Are you vaccinated against COVID, flu, whooping cough, etc?
  • Will you have to commute?
  • Are you legally permitted to work in the U.S.?
  • How do you feel about pets? Do you have any allergies?

Breaking the ice

With the basics out of the way, get more personal with open-ended interview questions. These types of questions prevent "yes" or "no" answers.

Keep in mind a good nanny might not be a good interviewer and vice-versa.

Examples of open-ended interview questions include:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • What made you want to become a nanny?
  • Do you prefer any one age group and why?
  • How long have you been nannying? Tell us about the moment you’re most proud of since you started caring for children.
  • Tell us about your hobbies and interests.
  • Do you have any questions for us?

Learning about their experience and skills

You’ve melted the ice, and you’re both as relaxed as possible — time to get specific. 

While some nannies hold a Master’s in Early Childhood Education, most don’t.

Think beyond formal education to what other life skills they bring. Maybe they’ve worked in a nursery and can help your kids start a veggie garden. Or maybe they have a drama background and can spearhead a play with your kids as the leads.

You might ask:

  • Tell us a bit about your background.
  • Tell us about some of your other jobs. What skills did you learn?
  • Are you fluent in more than one language? Which ones?
  • Do you have CPR and first aid training? If not, are you willing to get them?
  • Have you taken any courses, or do you have any other certifications?

Understanding what they're looking for

You don’t need eloquent responses to every question.

Keep in mind a good nanny might not be a good interviewer and vice-versa.

Are they personable? Do they make eye contact? Do they light up when they talk about kids? 

Examples of targeted interview questions to ask a nanny during an interview:

What are the most important qualities of a nanny, babysitter, or childcare worker?

  • What are you looking for in an employer?
  • What are your future goals?

Now, add a series of follow up questions to dive deeper:

  • What did you love about working with this position?
  • What was tough about working in this position?
  • Why did you stop working in this position?

Walking the walk

Professionalism, responsibility, and dependability come with the role. Did the nanny arrive on time? Did they come prepared with a resume and some references? 

If they have child care experience, include your job requirements as you ask questions about their past roles to check for fit:

  • Routine is important in our house. Can you describe your everyday routine or bedtime routine with the kids you’ve taken care of?
  • We both work long hours. How have you managed the added responsibilities like cooking and cleaning?
  • Our youngest has a tough time with goodbyes at daycare. How have you handled tough goodbyes with other families?

Whether they have experience or not, consider asking the following questions for a nanny interview:

  • How do you keep your employer in the loop about their child’s day?
  • What are your thoughts on kids and screen time?
  • How would you describe your child care style?
  • What’s your favorite way to interact with kids?
  • Why should we hire you as our nanny?

...And talking the talk

A nanny has to know what to do when the unexpected happens. Run your nanny through a few simulated scenarios and clock their response:

Scenario #1: As you arrive at school, your four-year-old charge complains of a stomach ache. They have no other symptoms. What do you do?

Scenario #2: You’ve just put the baby to sleep when their six-year-old sibling has a tantrum about tooth-brushing. Now, the baby’s screaming too. What do you do?

Scenario #3: You’re putting a newborn down for a nap. How do you place them on the bed and why? 

Scenario #4: A seven-year-old falls off their bike and complains of a sore arm. How do you respond, and in what order?

Scenario #5: A 4-year old has melt-downs when their parents leave for work. How do you defuse the situation?

Knowing what not to ask

There are dozens of interview questions to ask a nanny, but certain subjects are off-limits. In some states, they’re even illegal. 

When it comes to personal or controversial questions, it’s best to steer clear. Things like:

  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Plans for marriage or kids.
  • Whether they’ve been arrested or have a criminal record. (You’ll find this out during the background check.)
  • Whether they have any disabilities
  • Their current or past salary

After the interview

With the interview out of the way, you’re a step closer to finding your nanny. Before you make an offer, invite them for a nanny trial. If all goes well, make sure there are no surprises later with a nanny contract. Then, set up payroll and leave taxes and filings to the experts.

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