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.