10 Red Flags Parents Should Watch for During a Nanny Interview

GUEST COLUMNSubmitted by Savannah Lee

Finding the right nanny for your family can be a challenge, and the interview is often one of the most telling interactions as to whether a nanny will be a good fit for your family or not. Here are 10 things to look for that might indicate the nanny candidate isn’t the right match for your family.

1. The nanny is more interested in what the job offers than in any details about your children. Of course the nanny should be interested in what the job offers. However, if that seems to be more important than learning about your children and what they’re like, what they enjoy doing, and what struggles they may be facing, there might be a problem.

2. The nanny speaks negatively or shares confidential information about a former or current employer. Not every employment relationship ends well. A candidate may have left a difficult situation and may be feeling angry, frustrated or hurt by what happened. However it’s unprofessional to complain or share private information about a past boss with a potential new boss. If she’ll act that way towards a former employer, how much confidence do you have she won’t act the same way towards you one day?

3. You don’t connect with the nanny’s personality. Getting the right nanny/family match can be tricky. Even if the candidate has all the qualifications you’re looking for, if you don’t connect with her on a personal level chances are it’s not going to be a successful, long-term match.

4. The nanny can’t answer questions about how she handles discipline. Most nanny candidates know the standard answers to discipline questions. However, if she’s not able to describe her discipline approach in detail, she may lack any real experience or expertise. Because how she handles discipline is such an important part of her job, she should be able to easily talk about what’s she’s done in the past, new ideas she has for handling problematic behavior, and how she tailors her approach to fit each individual child.

5. The nanny mentions a past job not listed on her resume. Sometimes, as people get comfortable in a conversation, they let their guard drop and mention something they didn’t intend to. If a nanny candidate casually mentions a past employer that she didn’t list on her resume that may speak directly to her level of honesty. Some nannies don’t list bad references and hope parents won’t notice. But if she’s not honest with you about her full work history, can you trust she’s telling the truth about other things?

6. A nanny job is clearly her second choice. A nanny doesn’t have to be a career nanny to be an excellent caregiver. She can aspire to be a teacher, writer, dancer, or anything else and still be a wonderful caregiver. However, it’s important that while she’s a nanny, she’s fully present and committed to doing a great job. A nanny with one foot out the door before she even starts won’t give your child the love and attention he deserves.

7. She doesn’t take an active interest in your children. The interview is the time to see the nanny interact with your child and see how your child reacts to the nanny. Just because there’s not an instant bond doesn’t mean she’s the wrong nanny for your family. However, if she doesn’t genuinely enjoy talking and playing with your child, it could be an indicator that she’s not a caregiver that’s going to really engage your child day after day.

8. She’s not happy with many of the details about the job. If you need a nanny to travel with your family and she has major reservations about being away from her own family during vacations, it’s probably not a good match. If she really values working independently and you’re a hands-on stay-at-home mom, it’s probably not a good match. You want a nanny who’s flexible but not one who’s sacrificing her needs to land your job. She will quickly grow unhappy and you’ll be back on the nanny hunt.

9. She doesn’t really want to work with the age group your child is heading into. Some nannies love working with babies but not toddlers. Others love working with preschoolers but not school aged kids. If the nanny you’re interviewing is in love with your child right now, but in a year your child will be at an age the nanny struggles with, it’s probably not a good long term solution. It’s always a good idea to find a nanny that can grow and change with your family.

10. Your older child doesn’t like her. If your child is actively involved in choosing the nanny and just doesn’t like the candidate you’re interviewing, it could mean there’s a real problem between them. Personality is an important element to both you and your child. Don’t eliminate a nanny simply because your child doesn’t immediately connect to her, but instead allow more time for the relationship to develop before hiring her.

By paying attention to these red flags during the interview, you can make sure you hire the nanny that’s the best match for your family.


Lyn said...

Number five: Eh, I can see how that would be a red flag for a parent but a Nanny doesn't always list EVERY family she has worked for. Some may have been 5 years ago and she didn't want to hound them with reference calls. Some may have been occasional babysitting jobs. Usually, I give my work history and list all of the families I have worked for and the time spans that I was with them. But out of respect to their time and privacy I'll only list the contact information of the past 3 families I've worked for. And supply letters of recommendation from the previous families. But I wouldn't think too much of a Nanny mentioning a past job because you never know if it was a one night gig or a couple of Friday's a year.

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MissMannah said...

I also thought #10 was odd. Who has their child make that sort of decision? I can understand asking him or her "What did you think of this Nanny?" But he or she shouldn't be "actively involved" in the hiring process.

Also, #7 was odd. I'm assuming this is a first interview, not a working interview. I prefer the first interview to be completely child-free, because at that point they are distracting from business at hand. If you talk to the nanny and decide you like her, do a working interview later on. That is the time to determine if she and your child are a good fit.

♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

I disagree that an older child should assist in making the decision on whether or not to select a certain nanny. Perhaps the child may not even like the "idea" of having a nanny, so they might just not approve of anyone. Or maybe the child doesn't like the nanny's shoes, and automatically makes a decision, etc. I do not think a child should have so much power over his or her own parents on such an important decision.

I also agree that personality is quite vital to the selection process.
No matter how qualified a nanny is, if her personality is not in sync with a family's...it is only a recipe for disaster.

As a nanny, I ONLY work with families who share my child-rearing beliefs and have similar personality traits to my own.

Future Nurse :) said...

I personally think you have to use discretion when it comes to what you consider "negative" about a previous family. For instance I worked for a family who worked me to death with household chores several years ago. I don't phrase it like that, but I have gotten smart enough to inquire about the "light housework" and if they ask why, I say because I worked for a family whose opinion of the term differed from mine, and obviously that created discontentment.. therefore I like to be very upfront prior to beginning a nanny-parent relationship. Same thing for religious views (when you expect the nanny to teach the child), discipline, etc. There is nothing wrong with parents and nannies having differing opinions, I personally think it is very smart to be very upfront about it and make sure the views are similar enough to work.