10 questions to ask when hiring a nanny

10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Nanny

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So you’re hiring a nanny?! Congratulations, hiring a nanny is a wonderful way to support your whole family’s well-being. A professional nanny helps parents feel at ease when returning to work, and the right nanny can have a huge positive impact on your child. Your nanny is someone who will become like a part of your family. You and your child(ren) will look forward to seeing them regulary, and it’s essential that you choose the right nanny for you. Education, experience, personality fit, and availability should all factor into your choice. Here are 10 important questions to ask when hiring a nanny. 

1. How long have you been caring for children?

Everyone needs to start somewhere, but experience with children is essential for a nanny. Many individuals start out first working at a daycare center or babysitting before growing into a career nanny. When discussing your nanny’s experience with children, inquire about what ages they have care for and how many children they’re comfortable caring for at a time.

What childcare settings have they worked in? What is their favorite age group to care for, and why? These are some of the most important questions to ask when hiring a nanny. Whether you have one child or multiple, you need to understand your nanny’s experience level with your child’s age group and upcoming developmental stages. If you’re looking for a longterm caregiver, make sure your nanny is experienced with all ages and enjoys caring for different age groups.

For some families, a brand new nanny might truly be a great fit. Personality, availability, and strong character references can may parents at ease, and a newer nanny might better suit their budget. However for other families, a highly experienced nanny would be the best fit. Your child’s unique needs and your individual comfort level will play into the level of experience you feel best about from your nanny.

2. Why did you pursue a career in childcare?

This question helps parents start to get a feel for the candidate’s ideals. Some candidates will share a longtime calling to work with children, and others may be candid that nanny’s suits them while they pursue other educational and career goals. Some nannies ended up in the field as a direct evolution from teenage babysitting, while others have completely pivoted from other careers to be able to care for children. Understanding your potential nanny’s motives helps you get a feel for if they may be a good fit for your family.

3. What do you enjoy most about being a nanny? What do you enjoy least?

This is another one of the best questions to ask when hiring a nanny, to help you get a good feel for your nanny’s ideals and motives, and to see if there are any incompatible pieces. For example, if you have a preschooler now but are planning to have another child and a nanny says she hates changing diapers, they wouldn’t be a good longterm fit. You want feel out if your nanny will enjoy your home and family environment, so your nanny can do their best work.

4. What is your availability?

Of course, your nanny’s availability must match your own childcare needs. What regular hours does your family need care? It’s important to note that nannies deserve guaranteed hours. That means that your nanny needs to be able to expect consistent work and pay, and if their services aren’t needed due to your schedule, they would still expect to be paid.

Furthermore, you may want a nanny who is sometimes available for extra hours. If your work day runs late or you’d like to plan a date night, it’s helpful to know if your nanny might be available or if they can strictly offer regular hours only.

Lastly, when could they be available to start? How long are they hoping to stay with one family?

5. What relevant education do you have?

There is no standard educational path to become a nanny. Nannies aren’t required to hold degrees or certificates, though many do pursue relevant educational paths. Some individuals became nannies after pursuing higher education in child and family development. Others have pursued continuing education related to the career nanny field. It is expected that all nannies will be up-to-date on CPR, but it’s important to check.

You may have specific educational requirement you’d like from your nanny. For example, if you’d like your nanny to take your child swimming, you may ask that they have additional water safety training.

6. What is your childcare philosophy? 

Some nannies bring specific childcare philosophies to their work, such as RIE, Montessori, or Waldorf. Others may have an eclectic approach. When discussing this topic with nanny candidates, this is one of the best questions to ask when hiring a nanny to help you get a feel for their childcare approach. Does their style mesh or conflict with your own? This topic is so important in order to find the best nanny for your family. Working with a nanny who has a very different approach to childcare and/or discipline is a recipe for conflict.

7. What kinds of activities do you like to do with the children you care for?

How does the nanny generally like to spend their day with children? For example, do they like to plan lots of outings, or do they prefer to stay in and do activities at home? Are they very structured, or more go with the flow?

This question helps you get to know the candidate better and to see if their style jives with your children’s needs. This question may also lead you to learn other interesting facts about the candidate, such as if they speak another language with the children they care for or if they know about the best local library story times.

8. What is your approach to handling stressful situations when caring for children?

Now that you have a sense for the nanny’s philosophy and caregiving style, dive deeper. How do they handle stressful situations like a child having a tantrum? What issues have they encountered in their past work and how how they found solutions? Understanding how the nanny might react under pressure is important when making a decision about hiring a nanny. Undoubtably, caring for children is not always easy, and caregivers must be prepared to react calmly and creatively as issues arise.

9. What additional duties are you comfortable taking on as a nanny?

Are you hoping that the nanny will be able to provide additional household tasks such as laundry or washing dishes? It’s generally understood that the nanny will clean up after themselves and your children throughout the day, but it’s not typically expected that they would do additional household tasks. If you do want to ask your nanny to handle any additional household tasks such as organizing spaces, scheduling appointments, or managing household inventory, you may be seeking a combination nanny/house manager role.

Similarly, do you need the nanny to drive your children to and from activities? Will you provide a family car, or expect them to use their own? It’s important to have an open conversation about expectations and any additional compensation such as a gas stipend or budget for activities.

10. Can you provide references from past clients?

Once you feel like the nanny could be a great fit, it’s time to speak with their references. You’ll want to confirm that the past families they worked with had a wonderful experience. Written letters of recommendation are also helpful, but speaking with references will give you the best feel for the nanny’s prior work experience.

Working with Nightingales

At Nightingales, we understand how complex the nanny hiring process can be. Having a positive working relationship with your nanny is one of the best benefits of hiring a nanny as opposed to other childcare options such as day care with rotating caregivers. We can help you find the best nanny fit for your family and streamline the nanny hiring process. Reach out to us to learn more about our nanny placement services.