10 Hard Hitting But Important Nanny Interview Questions

GUEST COLUMNSubmitted by Sandra McAubre

Asking difficult questions during an interview can be intimidating for both the parents who are asking the questions and the nanny candidates who are answering them. However, you are seeking a person who will be instrumental in the upbringing of your children and therefore you need to get the right answers to all the questions you ask, no matter how difficult they may be. Some of the important and hard hitting questions you may want to consider asking nanny candidates include:
  1. What do you do when you become angry with a child? – Obviously, it is critical that you know how your prospective nanny will handle anger towards your children. Even the best behaved children can, at times, test the mettle of a caretaker. How the caretaker responds is central.
  2. Will you consent to a pre-employment background screening? –If a candidate will not commit to a background check, this should be a red flag. When securing a background check, be aware that some background checks are only national or statewide and only cover felony offenses. Charges that are leveled and then dropped against someone will not show up in most generic background checks. You want to dig a little deeper and run county court checks to find out if there isanything in the person’s history that could have an impact on your children.
  3. What is your philosophy on discipline? – This is another very critical question to ask during the interview process. You want to know how candidates will handle disciplining your kids because it will come up from time to time. Your nanny’s philosophy in this area must be compatible with your own.
  4. What is your educational background? – This person will be responsible for the intellectual stimulation, as well as the general welfare, of your kids in your absence. Therefore, you will want someone who values education and educational pursuits, whether it’s reading to the little ones, engaging in creative play, pursuing musical interests, practicing everyday math, or experimenting with scientific exploration in the kitchen. A nanny who can contribute to the education of your children is a must.
  5. How have you handled sibling rivalry? – If you have more than one child then at some point your nanny will probably need to deal with sibling rivalry. How she has handled it in the past is something you will want to know.
  6. How have you handled a temper tantrum in public? – Even moms can have issues handling their kid’s temper tantrums in public. Will the nanny be firm or will she allow the child to have the upper hand? Exactly what would she do if your little one decided to fall down screaming in the middle of the store?
  7. Have you ever suspected anyone of abusing a child in your care? If so, what did you do? – This question allows you to find out how the candidate will handle serious situations. You want someone who will stand up and protect your kids; not someone who will turn their head and pretend that there is not a problem.
  8. Have you ever been in an emergency situation? How did you handle it? – Knowing that the person you are looking to hire can handle an emergency with quick thinking and a calm demeanor is vital. Should an emergency arise you don’t want someone who may panic and not be able to handle it.
  9. What would you do if my child told you something you knew I wouldn’t approve of? – As children get older, they may confide in the nanny and share things they may not feel comfortable sharing with their parents. You want to know how this person would handle such confessions.
  10. Are there any circumstances in your life that could affect our family’s safety? – This is a crucial question considering that very good and well qualified nannies can have people in their lives that pose a safety or security threat.
These are only some of the hard hitting questions you may want to ask during your nanny interview. As you formulate questions, remember that your paramount concern is how the nanny candidate is going to care for your children. Questions about the person’s background should be directly related to the impact on the care of your children. Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and ask questions that are respectful of their privacy, but get to the heart of the matter, which is the quality of care that they will provide your children.


Manhattan Nanny said...

Numbers 1-9 are some good basic questions. I have never been asked #10. I would like to hear what moms and nannies think of that one. Is it realistic to expect an honest answer if the answer is yes? Would you be offended? Think the employer paranoid or classist?

Bethany said...

Never been asked #10. Don't really see there being a need. If I were asked that it would probably red flag me as a paranoid parent.

Maybe I would counter back with the same question.

Thanks to the OP I bet parents will start asking this question.

gypsy said...

I think #10 is a good question. When I did child care, I wouldn't accept a family where the parents had restraining orders against each other. The last thing I needed was to have to deal with someone elses legal issues. Besides, I don't want a show down in my front yard!

Katydid said...

There's a difference between in home child care and hiring a nanny.

I think #10 is invasive and in the same vein as asking questions of marital status, sexual orientation, medical history etc.

gypsy said...

Of course there is a difference, lol. But the point is the reasoning is the same. Nobody needs a show down. A nanny who has a restraining order against a violent exboyfriend, if hired, may pose a risk to the safety of your family. #10 specifically asks if there is a circumstance that poses a risk to the children's safety. That's a fair question. Safety is important.

Someones marital staus, sexual orientation or medical history poses no risk to the safety of the family. So its nowhere near being the same.

As far as even asking the question, I wouldn't. I think its an awkward thing to ask and it makes the parents look unprepared for having a nanny. Almost like they're digging for an issues. Hard to say. But it rubs me the wrong way.

Katydid said...

The point being it's none of their business.

A medical history could potentially cause a risk to a child. For example a history of seizures or passing out.

Yes it is diggin. I think it's ad advice to suggest parents ask this question. As more than one nanny has daid it's off putting.

gypsy said...

The question was, "are there any circumstances in your life that could affect our families safety?" If something affects the families safety, whether it be a medical condition that could cause the nanny to pass out while driving the kids or a restraining order that could cause a crazy ex to stalk the nanny, if it affects the familys is it NOT their business? The very fact that it affects the familys safety makes it concerning. Yes,, I agreed that I probably don't think its a good question to ask. But that doesn't mean that asking it is anywhere near asking for someones sexual preferences or medical history. Naturally assuming the sexual pref and medical history have no affect on the nanny providiing safe care. That's none of their business because it desnt affect the job the nanny is doing.

wehaveanewannoyingposter said...

Those are the laws of employment and interviews in this country gypsy!

If you don't like it take it up with law makers.

Katydid said...


I never said they were exactly them same only that it should be filed under the same category of questions that are illegal to ask during an interview.

If you want to you can come up with any question and somehow twist to make it about protecting the safety of the family.

I also gave you an example of how a nanny's medical history could be important to the family's safety or the safety of the children in her care.

gypsy said...

Excuse me, if I don't like what exactly? It sounds as tho you are referring to question #10?,"are there any circumstances in your life that could affect our families safety?" I never said it was legal or illegal to ask such a question. In fact, I said twice, that I dont think its a good idea to ask such a question. If you want to know my opinion on the legality of such a question, I have no problem sharing. But until then, you haven't a clue as to what I believe the laws in this country are regarding appropriate & legal interview questions. If you refering to whether or not an interviewer has the legal right to ask questions about ones health, they do. Although I have yet to address the legality of such a question until now, an employer has the legal right to inquire whether or not a potential employee has a medical condition that would affect their basic job duties. Same goes goes for sexual
orientation, I have yet to address the legality of asking such a question, until now. It is my belief that an employer has no legal right to ask such information from a potential employee.

Once again, what laws "of employment & interviews" in this country are you referring to? And what exactly did you ASSume I thought was legal or illegal & "don't like?" Because from where I'm sitting I am far from being "the annoying one." Have a pleasant day.

gypsy said...

@Katydid, "I never said they were exactly the same only that it should be filed under the same category of questions that are illegal to ask during an interview."

Actually, you said.."#10 is invaisive & in the sam vein as asking questions of marital status, sexual orientation,medical history, etc".

So, for clairification, this is the first time(assuming "wehaveanannoyingnewposter" isn't you, *smile*) that you've brough up the legality of such questions. Since you now want to address the legality of such questions. I do believe asking #10 would be perfectly legal, although for the fourth time I don't think its a good idea to ask. Its as legal as asking if someone has a medical condition that would make it unsafe to preform their job duties or make it difficult.

I think #10 is a perfectly reasonable question although for the fifth time, I wouldn't advise asking it. I could find out if someone has a restraining order via a quality background check. If someone has a medical issue that would affect their ability to nanny my child, then I would likely find out after her fitness for duty medical exam.

You may think its an awful question. I might think its reasonable, but with other reasonable pre-employment precautions taken, it becomes useless.

Yes, I think anyone could come up with questions and twist them to be about safety. That's why interviews are good. They give the nanny a chance to see if she & the parents are on the same page and have the same values.

Yes, you did give an example of how a nannys medical history could be impotant to the familys safety, as did I. I am not sure where you're going with that.

It sounds like you think #10 is an awful question. I get that. Completely. I have no issue with your opinions what so ever. That's what makes sites like this interesting-variety. ;-)

katydid. said...

Whatever gypsy!

You are right. Ok. I don't agree with you, but. I'll give in.

notagypsyfan said...

Don't mind gypsy.

She likes to be right.

in real life she's probably someone that loves to hear the sound of her own voice.

She certainly likes to post her every though multiple times in multiple postings.

gypsy said...

@katydid....Nah, we just have different points of view. That doesn't make me right at all. Anymore than it makes you wrong. No big deal. :)

gypsy said...

Awwww, I am not worthy of such attention, I can assure you.

Contrary to your belief, I actually prefer to be wrong because then I've actually learned something new. When I am correct, that just solidifys what I already know.

Yes, I have a soothing voice. Its calming. I don't mind hearing myself one bit.

I do enjoy posting on multiple topics, that is also correct. Although, I certainly don't post my every thought. You meant thought, I assume? I enjoy discussing nanny related topics in lieu of discussing the people who post here. But I am no different than anyone else in that I have my own faults. I can come off harsh, overbearing & far too meticulous than the situation would call for. However, I do my best to keep my thoughts & opinions re: other posters to myself as that would only serve as a distraction to the blogs overall nobel purpose. I'm too old (30 something) to get in a tit for tat internet match. I enjoy discussing my opinion with others, whether they agree or not. However, if you believe you're better than me, your perception is your reality & I am OK with that. Carry on.

Katydid said...

@ gypsy did you get the job and the $20/hr you wanted?

Miss Ross said...

Great post gypsy! I'm not sure why you were dogged but your ability to answer back calmly and maturely is something we should all strive to do, then there wouldn't be so much arguing on this board. Kudos to you girlfriend! ;D

gypsy said...

Awww, thanks Miss Ross! What a thoughtful compliment. Its much appreciated. <3

gypsy said...

I was offered the position, yes. The kids are great & they have a wondeful family. I have nothing against them. However, after careful considersation, I declined. I am just bored. I don't want to work. I need to organize my messy art room & get back into my hobbies. When I want to help out, I can always volunteer a few hours here & there. Sixteen hours a week Sep-Jun is too much of a commitment, for our lifestyle. We like to travel, often last minute. I am accustomed to sleeping in & getting breakfast in bed. I don't think I want to go from that to waking up @ 4:00AM alone. My desire to be a p/t nanny was fleeting. Its just not condusive to our lifestyle. Thank you for your interest. Good day, katydid.

Anonymous said...

Tks very much for your post.

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Source: Interview Questions & Answers:

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