Chapter 10: Assess Nanny Candidate

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Nanny

It seems simple enough but picking the right person to hire can be challenging. In some cases, it is easy to disqualify a nanny if they do not meet the desired training, have the years of experience desired, or their hourly wage is higher than your budget. Always disqualify any potential nanny who makes you feel uncomfortable or uncertain. You may be able to articulate why you are not comfortable or it may be a gut feeling, but if you do not think it is a good fit, then do not hire that person. Your goal is to hire someone to take care of your children, so you should feel secure when you have selected the right nanny.

An easy way to organize your thoughts is to list all the job requirements and duties. Then, check your interview notes to confirm the candidates have the desired training, years of experience, and seek an hourly wage that is within your budget.

If all the nanny candidates have the desired backgrounds and experiences and you are still stuck, it may help to think about realistic scenarios and desired behaviors. It is also helpful to think about the characteristics you want your children to learn from their nanny. Children spend a lot of time with nannies, so selecting a nanny with similar traits can help children transition from being nanny supervised to parents taking over after work. If you are very talkative, you may want to hire a nanny who is talkative. Conversely, you may want to hire a nanny who is quiet, so the child can learn how to engage with different personality types.

Some families prefer mathematical and analytical evaluation methods while other families will want more of a personal engagement or subjective approach to help assess candidates. You will likely prefer one method over the other, but we share each to provide you with additional tools to help you assess potential nannies.

“I interviewed 3 candidates recommended by a top nanny agency and they all were great,” shares Ann from Boston. “I didn’t know how to pick the best one for my family.”

Candidate Assessment – Analytical Method

For the analytically minded, you can create a scoring system. Start by ranking each job requirement by importance. Give each job duty an importance ranking number between 1 and 5. Give the job duty a 1 if it is absolutely required, a 3 if it is desired, and 5 if it is nice to have.

Then, rank the candidate from 1 to 5 on how well they meet the job requirement. Give the candidate a 1 if they exceed the requirement, a 3 if they meet the requirement and a 5 if they do not meet the requirement.

Multiply the importance ranking number times the candidate’s assessment ranking for each job requirement. Finally, add the scores to get a total for each candidate. The candidate with the lowest total score will be the best fit for your family. Here is an example:

In this scenario, the first candidate appears to be the best fit for this family. The concern would be that the candidate does not meet the salary requirement. The second candidate meets the salary requirement but is not available for emergencies. These are typical candidate assessment results as it is extremely unusual to find a candidate that meets or exceeds all requirements at a desired hourly rate.

Candidate Assessment – Behavioral Model Method

There are no right or wrong strategies, the goal is to pick the right nanny for you and your children. The decision criteria for one family will be different from every other family. It is a professional but also a deeply personal choice. Here are a few traits to think about when interviewing and assessing a nanny:

  • Leading by example. Did the nanny share a story about how they reacted when another driver cut them off? When you are driving and another car cuts you off, do you yell at the other driver? If your children were in the care with a nanny, would you want the nanny to comment about the rude driver?
  • Listening to the children. Children see the world in wonderful and surprising ways. Because of their curiosity, they often see things that adults overlook. It is easy as an adult to ‘half-listen’ when a child is sharing something. Did the nanny share any stories about how well they listened to a child or that they love learning new jokes from their 7-year-old charge? Do the children seem to like the nanny?
  • Using positive communication techniques. Nannies (and parents) can get into the habit of saying “No” a lot. Of course, in a situation where the child may get hurt – “No” is important and children must be kept safe. Did the nanny share a story that required her to say no? Did the nanny share stories that successfully reframed ‘no’? For example, did the nanny share this story: Johnny wanted to go outside but it was raining. I bent down so I was at his level and said, “Johnny, it’s raining so we can’t go outside right now. Would you rather play with your blocks or train set?” By getting down to Johnny’s level, the nanny showed her knowledge in how to best engage children with open body language. The nanny also shared a story that demonstrate her ability to reframe a ‘no’ answer into a sentence that created two options for Johnny. Instead of throwing a fit about the rain, Johnny is more likely to choose one of the options and begin to play.
  • Managing stress. Everyone has stress in their lives, including children. Having a way to manage stress positively is important for nannies, especially when children may be stressed. During the interview, did the nanny share a time they helped a child through a challenging situation. Was the nanny able to communicate how they helped a child take a few deep breaths or jog in place. Did the nanny share a story about how the nanny recognized stress in a child and helped them cope by playing soft music or making sure they had their favorite animal or blanket?
  • Being confident. Children need to feel safe and secure and if they think an adult is scared or unsure, then they may feel insecure or anxious. Did the nanny communicate confidence when sharing the day-to-day interactions at her old job? Did the nanny use a strong voice and clear sentences to convey confidence in her answers? Did the nanny’s body language match the confidence in her voice? Was the nanny sitting up straight and leaning forward with interest?
  • Having positive relationships. Children will learn how to build relationships with family, friends, and future romantic partners based on their relationships as children. If a family hugs and freely shares their feelings, then children will be comfortable with these behaviors. If friends are treated kindly and show understanding and forgiveness, then children will be better able to adopt these traits. Did the nanny share insights into their relationships with past families and children formerly in her care?
  • Being humble and kind. Teaching children about charity and kindness can help them see past their daily needs and understand more about our world and the power of working together. Children watch our daily interactions with others and we need to make sure they learn humility and politeness. Did the nanny share any volunteer experience or a story about how the nanny taught a child to give up their subway seat to an elderly passenger?

Hiring a nanny provides child care when you are at work or away from the home, but the nanny will also be a role model for your children. As young children learn by watching others, it is important to consider the behaviors you want your children to experience, mimic and learn. If you want children to be patient, then make sure you and the nanny show them how to patiently wait for an appointment. From fist pumping when your favorite football team scores a goal to calming an upset friend, children will mimic you and the nanny. Take a few minutes to think about how each nanny candidate behaved during the interview process.