Interview Horror Stories, Let the red flags arise!!

As I reflect on my move back here eight years ago, I reflect on where I was in my career, and where I wanted to be back then, and being new (sort of) in town. At the time of my move, my work history was in terrible shape, largely due to working in low income childcare centers in a larger city-many of the centers I worked in either closed due to low enrollment, or I resigned, due to the center being a bad fit. Of course I had good jobs too, such as working for my best friend's aunt (we've been friends for nearly 13 years) or working retail, which paid decent money with seniority and time and a half on Sundays and holidays. My work history needing a makeover, I made the best of it, by having a decent resume and carefully choosing my words to answer questions for interviews, a dress rehearsal of sorts.

One of my first "interviews" was with a professor at the university and her attorney husband. I found the job listing as a nanny for their then infant daughter and decided to apply. The mother and I emailed back and forth, and she wanted a resume. I explained to her that I just moved back to town, and had no clue where anything was in terms of my hard drive copy. She said she understood and wanted me to send her what I had, so I did. I got a message back that stated " 'I wouldn't hire you if you were the last person on Earth. You are not qualified to watch my daughter, let alone a fly in my house.' " At the time, I had ten years experience in the field of early childhood education, having worked with all ages of children, including infants. No degree, nothing, but CPR certification.

That was pretty rude of her, considering she didn't even know me. I considered the fact that my crappy background and job hopping needed to be fixed, and I figured maybe it was the work history that bothered her. Understandable. To fix things, I applied for babysitting jobs to build my references and resume. One job in particular involved caring for three children under 7 years for a long Saturday wedding (a friend of the parent was getting married). The family wanted to develop a relationship with someone prior to the wedding so as to overwhelm anyone, making the transition easier. I contacted the family, and the mother answered the phone. During the conversation, she laughed at me the entire time, as she even said she thought it was hilarious that I was contacting her with my ten years experience working with children and families. " 'We're not interested because your way overqualified. I mean it's just babysitting' ". She hung up the phone and contacted me two weeks later, apologizing for hanging up and begging me to babysit, as the person she hired was 19, no experience, the kids were up way past their bedtime until 12a, and the house was a mess. I never called her back, because I was put off by her attitude.I was surprised that she had the nerve to laugh at me. Who does that to a prospective candidate?

The last interview I remember was with a nanny who was helping her NF find her replacement-an admirable thing and a sign of respect. I was interested in the position while emailing this nanny, and once I met this nanny in person (she was doing the interviewing) I was surprised by what I saw: an older nanny, mid to late 30's. Had she not said she was a nanny, I wouldn't have guessed she was a nanny. She was not warm and friendly, and as the interview went on, I was losing interest quickly. The reason for that was because of how she talked to me, her tone and the fact that she seemed like a real bitch. Toward the end of the interview, she asked me if she could offer some advice. Sure, I say, all ears. If you want to be a nanny she says, and taken seriously by agencies and families, you are going to want to change everything from your resume to your appearance. She pauses and looks at my feet. And the shoes too she says. Let's start with your resume. She makes corrections on it, and tells me what to wear, how to wear it. Finally she tells me that if I make those changes, I won't necessarily be hired, but I will have a better chance at being hired. After all, she tells me I have been a nanny for over twenty years, flips her hair, and I have been placed with only the best agencies. This caught my attention. Who have you worked with, I ask. She name drops, and I made it a point not to contact that agency, because I felt that if the nanny was that rude to me, I could only imagine what the owner was like.

And there are the families that don't even bother to take the time. I have gotten a few responses from families like this:


Thanks for your interest. We've had over 200 applications and don't have time to look through everyone. Best of luck in your search.

Yeah, OK. Sounds like a lazy parent. A few months later they are searching again. And again. And again.

And then the red flags:

A family I found in the local paper was searching for a nanny. I called the phone number with the ad, and asked a few questions about the position, such as the start date, etc. The father said he could not divulge that info because he didn't want too much information out there about his family. First interview question was about if his child was naughty, what would I do. Vague question, vague answer. He tells me he believes I am too strict and rigid, and that something must be wrong if I am not working in childcare. He asks what my current job is, and I tell him I work retail as a cashier. He tells me that he cannot believe I am a cashier and I really enjoy it. He then asks if I am single, have a boyfriend and what I look like-fit, fat, athletic. Begins to sound like something is off, and I could see the red flag flying high. I politely hang up the phone and feel weird about the entire thing, yet I learned how to recognize something I wasn't interested in.

Using an online resource, I was offered a babysitting job later that week. The job was decent money, and the parent wanted a background check. I had already been background checked (I have a copy of a background check in my portfolio and it was done prior to meeting this family), and I also understood her concerns. I get a message from the parent through the website requesting my background check. I clicked the button to send it to them. The day before I was supposed to babysit, I get a text message from the mother about how they were going to hold off on leaving me with their baby because they couldn't verify my social security number. OK, so why doesn't not being able to verify such personal info concern you? If I had something in my background, I wouldn't be working in a childcare center. This was a red flag to me, because anyone can sign up for a membership on a website and be duped. What did they really want my social for anyway?

Now, eight years later, I am working in a preschool, I love my class, my co workers and I found a great family that I nanny for part time. I realize now that those other jobs didn't happen for a reason. The family I work for is great-I love them and the kids are great too. DB fixed a minor issue with my car and even ordered the part for me. They offer me hours if one of them are off work, and I am so happy I found them.

So nannies, what have families said during interviews that made you turn down jobs? How did you know that the family you were interviewing with wasn't right for you? Tell me about some of the outrageous things families have said during interviews.


OTNanny said...

I've never had any real "horror" story experiences, but I've definitely met some loo-loos in the past. I once met with a family whose house was a disaster area (kitchen was gross - a pet peeve of mine), whose two giant dogs jumped and slobbered on me the whole time (and I love dogs, esp big ones), whose 4 year old played the Wii the entire time in the same room while I spoke to the parents (I am very anti-tech with kids under kindergarten age), and the youngest, a baby, had a face covered in snot. Needless to say, I declined their offer when they followed up with me later. I met with another family once who essentially opened the interview with the out-of-the-blue statement that "We don't hit our kids, so you won't either". Discipline methods had not even been brought up (and obviously, I'd never hit anyone's kids!), and it was very early on in talking to them, so I'm not sure what their deal was - the mom just gave off a weird vibe and was sort of cold to her children while I was there. They came across as very distrusting and so I wasn't sad when they didn't decide to choose me (and I wasn't going to accept anyway, given the mom's demeanor; I am a very trustworthy and ethical person, but I felt as though I could have been put in a position where I'd be wrongfully accused of god-knows what). I no longer nanny, as it was something I did for some time during academic study, career transition, etc, but I was lucky to have worked for some really great families.

TwinNanny said...

Whoa. I'm thankful to never have encountered any people this crazy. My only weird experience was an interview for a evening nanny position. The family employed two nannies so that the SAHM never had to be with her child if she didn't feel like it. Day nanny worked a full day, but they needed someone to come at 5, when she left, to take over until bed time. They also wanted occasional weekend care.
We met at a public location and mom refused to even come inside and meet me. Weird. We eventually went outside toward the car where she was coerced out by her husband. He told me she is shy. She looked me up and down the whole time, with a disgusted face. I didn't get the job and honestly didn't want it after the interview experience.

Taleia said...

Two years ago when my previous charge started kindergarten I interviewed with a family that I thought might be a good fit. For one thing, they'd had nannies before (rare in my small town) and didn't bat an eye over my salary requirements, etc. We talked for over an hour about hours, childcare philosophy, schedules, disciplibe, etc, then mom casually mentions, "My husband and I both have great jobs and make a lot of money, we had kids because we knew we always have enough to be able to pay someone to raise them. When were home, we want to do the fun stuff. We don't want to deal with any discipline, homework, etc. We had kids knowing that. " I declined the job when they offered it to me a few days later. I'm sure that sort of arrangement works well with some folks, but I work best in a situation where I'm more of a coparent.

Anonymous said...

Well I mean it doesn't sound like you were ever a nanny. While these examples do sound awful, it would be hard to find nannying jobs with your experience. It's hard to go into nannying for the first time past a certain age. Families don't want to see a bunch of daycares and retail experience. They want to see that you have nannying experience since that's the job and very different from daycare.