Fast Exit Interview Etiquette

You search for a nanny job, find a position or two that may interest you, send your resume and/or credentials. The family sets up a phone chat and/or interview, and you are interested in the position. That is, until something tells you it's just not the right fit.

Sometimes it happens during the phone interview. Other times it happens during the interview. And sometimes, it happens within a few minutes of chatting with a family on the phone or meeting with them in person. They may appear not so friendly in person, oblivious to the hiring process or you can tell they are just plain rude. Whatever the case may be, you can feel they aren't the right fit for you.

I had this happen twice: once during the middle of the interview. It was things the parent said that made me want to leave right there. He couldn't believe that someone with my experience, degree and credentials was applying for their nanny job, and insisted I was taking a step backward. After looking at my resume, he didn't even ask me any questions. He kept commenting on the fact that I was overqualified and too experienced to be their nanny.

The second time it happened was a few months ago. This family was hiring their first nanny and the father stated things like they are " 'new to this....not sure what they are doing, do not have a start date yet...not sure who they are looking for in a nanny...exploring options and taking information from candidates for now and getting back to people once they start moving forward...' " As I was sitting there listening to them speak, I was trying to figure out what was going on. I listened to them, answered their questions with a smile, and thought I did very well. I never heard back from them, and when I saw the position was open again, I contacted the family expressing my interest. I got a message from the family stating they didn't feel I was the right fit....Wait. You weren't sure what you were doing, didn't know what you were looking for in a nanny, etc but you knew I'm not the right fit?

As I look back on that experience, something told me to get up and leave within a few minutes of this interview. Of course I ignored that voice.

Has something like this ever happened to you? Have you ever chatted with a family on the phone or met a family in person and figured out within a few minutes they weren't the right fit for you? If so, what did you say to the family to end the interview right there? Is there a way to end an interview politely without being offensive when something like this happens?

I also own a placement agency, so I need to be extra careful.


Anonymous said...

I've had this happen before, when I realize during an interview I definitely don't want the job. I don't think there is a way to politely immediately end the interview, and is not really necessary. I just try to keep the rest of the interview short, don't give long answers, or ask any questions. I had one interview go so long I told the mom I had another appointment to get to.

Anonymous said...

I actually had this happen to me- but on the first day of the job. I saw an add on advertising for an urgent need for a nanny, and I was in urgent need of a job. I met with the mom that day, and something just didn't seem right, it didn't sit well with me, but I needed a job so I ignored that little voice in my head, she wanted me to start the very next day (about 12 hours notice to start). I showed up for the job the next day, she was supposed to be working from home, and kept saying she really needed to go to work, but insisted on being right behind me whenever I did anything, criticizing everything I did (For example, when her son didn't want to eat his breakfast, she said I was feeding him wrong, and she would do it, then he didn't want to eat from her, so she said I let him look at the food to long and it made him want to feed himself, so now he wasn't going to eat). I tried to take her son out for a walk, and she called me, twice, in a fifteen minute period, I didn't hear my phone, so when I saw the calls I headed back to the house, when I got back, she said "Wow, that was a VERY short walk", and acted like she hadn't even called me. The final straw was when she asked me to clean up the dishes after her son was done eating, which I did, and then as I was cleaning them she told me "You know, you're not good with kids are you? Nannies who know what they are doing will actually play with the child.", even though I was washing the dishes per her specific instruction.
So, I told her that I didn't think I was a good fit for the family, and I was sorry but I would not be returning. I knew she had backup care set up, and if she expected me to start with 12 hours notice, I didn't think she could be upset about me giving her two days notice that I would not be returning (It was the end of the week so I wouldn't have been working for the next two days anyways).
Moral of the story, I've found in general your gut instinct about a situation is usually worth listening to. The money isn't worth making yourself miserable.