Recently, I shared my 10 Steps to Hiring a Nanny, but I just had one short paragraph on interviewing. We ended up doing quite a bit of research on what questions we should be asking during the interview, so I thought it’d be helpful to share more! I also have a background in designing selection systems for large organizations, so in my jobs I’ve created hundreds of interview questions!
Below are 10 questions for you to consider, along with some notes and guidance for how to ask them and judge the responses. Pick and choose the ones that make sense for you!
Starting the Interview
Before you begin asking questions, I recommend giving a brief overview of the job, expectations, and benefits. I’d also suggest sharing what the situation is now with Covid, and what it would be like after (e.g. we both work at home now, but once things are better, we’d both go into the office).
1. Are you legally authorized to work in the United States?
This job question pops up on nearly every application you can find online. If your intent is to have a nanny who can legally work in the US, this is the wording I suggest you use. If you deviate from this, you could find yourself asking something you shouldn’t in an interview! Also, I suggest asking this question as you are coordinating interviews, to make sure you don’t schedule interviews that wouldn’t work out for you.
2. Tell me about your work history.
Only one of my 30+ Nanny applicants provided a resume. This question is a great one to start with to learn more about their experience with children and working in childcare.
3. What experience do you have with CPR certification and First Aid?
If they don’t have a recent certificate, you may want to ask them to take an online class to refresh their knowledge. In person classes may need to wait until after Covid.
4. What questions do you have about the role?
The interview isn’t just for you to select a nanny, it’s also for the nanny to select a family too! So make sure you give you prospective nannies an opportunity to ask questions about expectations and the role.
5. Do you speak any other languages fluently, and if so, would you be willing to speak to my children in another language?
For us, we really want our kids to grow up with exposure to other languages. Anais, my 3-year-old, speaks French, and some Spanish, although she appears to understand it very well. For our twins, they get exposure to French from their father and grandmother, so we wanted to target a native Spanish speaker.
Asking Behavior Based Questions to Gauge Skill and Fit
One of the best ways to interviews candidates to best predict successful job performance is to ask them about situations in the past, and what they said or did in those situations. In HR, this is called Behavioral (or Behavior-Based) Interviewing. This type of structured interview is one of the best ways to assess candidate’s during hiring. It’s also free to use! When asking these questions, listen for the following, and if you don’t get all of the information, ask follow-up questions to learn more about their response.
If you are interviewing multiple prospective nannies, I suggest scoring each of the following questions on a 1-5 scale. If you and your spouse are both participating in the interview, a best practice is to rate them independently, and then discuss the ratings after. If they don’t have a situation to reference, you can also ask them what they would do in a situation like this. This may seem like overkill, but this is one of the most important positions you’ll ever hire for in your life!
Now, for extra credit, if you really want to learn more, the Society for Human Resource Management has a free 97-page guide to Behavior Based Interviewing! In the meantime, here are some Behavior Based Questions we used during our search for a Nanny.
6. Tell me about a challenging experience you had with a child you were taking care of.
7. Have you ever had to handle an emergency, or a child getting hurt or very upset? If so, how did you handle it?
8. Describe a time you had to set up more structure into a child’s day.
9. Tell me about a situation where you had to discipline a child. What did you do or say?
Closing the Interview
It’s time to wrap up! I suggest asking one final question to the candidate to see what concerns or questions they may have.
10. What other questions do you have? Do you have any concerns about the position?
Now it’s time to thank the candidate and let them know when they can expect to hear from you with a decision.
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