Chapter 9: Conduct Nanny Interviews

The Ultimate Guide to Hiring a Nanny

Steps of Nanny Interview Process

Before interviewing a Nanny, you should know the requirements and skills needed for the job and have a thorough job description available. A standard interview process has multiple steps:

  1. Review the nanny’s resume, the profile on a job board, or get background information about the nanny from the nanny agency to determine if they meet the minimum requirements and are within the desired compensation range for the job.
  2. Conduct a screening interview via phone or video conferencing to determine the nanny’s level of interest in the position and ask your most important interview questions. This 30-minute call can determine if the candidate is a potential fit for the nanny job.
  3. Meet the nanny in person to get to know them without the children present. Often, families and nannies meet for coffee or tea.
  4. Introduce the nanny to the child or children in a neutral, stress-free environment like a neighborhood park and see how they interact.

“It’s time-consuming to screen and interview potential nannies,” shares Lisa M., a working mother in Los Angeles. “I look for an investment in child care training and I always call their references after conducting a background check.”

Screening Questions to Consider

When interviewing nannies, it is important to remember you are vetting their qualifications to care for your children. You are hiring a nanny, not trying to make a friend or help someone who needs a job. Ask each question in a neutral tone of voice and be careful you do not give them the answer you want. For example, you want to say, “tell me about a time you handled an emergency” instead of, “you have handled an emergency when you had to comfort a child who fell and scraped their knee, right?”

You want to hire a nanny who makes you feel confident that they are qualified to provide great care for your children. Asking about and hearing stories on how nannies interact with children and what ages they have cared for is a great way to learn about their skills. The responses to various questions provide insights and help you learn more about the nanny’s skill set.

Here are a few questions to ask in a screening call:

  • What training and certifications have you completed? An investment in professional development and continuing education can identify nannies who are committed to providing the highest level of child care. Current CPR and First Aid certifications are often required, and a Child Care certification or Nanny Certification may be desired. Lifeguard and car seat installation training is generally a bonus.
  • Tell me about a time you had to handle an emergency. With this question, you can learn about a Nanny’s ability to manage the unexpected. If they have never been in an emergency, then it’s likely they are early in their career and you or someone you trust should be accessible while they care for your kids. If the nanny can share an emergency experience and communicate that they handled it as well as can be expected, the nanny may be ready to care for your children when you are out of town.
  • Tell me about a time a child would not listen to you. What was the situation and how did you respond? With this question, you can get a better idea of how a nanny manages stress and their approach to discipline. Did the nanny send the child to their room for a time out; did they take a different approach and offer a reward; or did the nanny delay and leave the matter for the parents? There is no right answer to this question, just make sure the response is appropriate and that it would be consistent with how the child is managed by you, other daycare workers, or teachers at school.
  • Are you willing to get a flu/covid shot? Vaccinations benefit the young and elderly as these populations are the most at risk of having serious consequences when they get ill. A flu shot may not benefit a healthy adult as much, but a nanny’s willingness to get vaccinated to reduce exposure to the children in their care is an important insight. Vaccinations are a personal decision, but it can be an important topic to cover during the interview.
  • Would you consent to work in a home with cameras? Families are not required to get a nanny’s consent as families are legally allowed to install a nanny camera in their home, except in private areas such as the bathroom or a live-in nanny’s bedroom. Many nannies are uncomfortable with cameras feeling that families should trust them; however, checking in on a nanny can provide a sense of extra security for the family.
  • Do you have any pictures of the children you have cared for on your social media? Ideally, the answer is ‘no’ to protect the privacy of the children. Only the family should post photos of their children. However, if the nanny pulls out their phone and shows you photos, ask them if they have received the parents’ or guardians’ permission prior to posting. Some families may be comfortable with the nanny sharing photos.
  • Do you stay in touch with children that have been in your care? This question is useful when you are looking to hire a long-term nanny. Good nannies develop close bonds with the children and the children care for the nanny. A nanny’s response shares if the nanny has a history of leaving families on good terms and if the nanny appreciates their connections and attachments with the children in their care.
  • Would you consent to work in a home with the parents working from home? Many nannies enjoy working with the children while the parents are working from home and some nannies will refuse to work if the parents are in the home. If you will be in the home while the nanny is caring for the children, make sure the expectations and roles are clear.

Nanny Interview Questions

Here are some in-depth interview questions about the nannies’ qualifications for the role, child care education and training, child care experience, and fit with the family will help you gain insights into the nanny’s character and skills. After asking some but likely not all these interview questions, you will have enough information to assess the nanny’s fit for the position. If you are interviewing several nannies, it will help to print out the questions and take notes as the nanny provides the answer. This will be a huge advantage as you review the nannies, especially if you interview 3-5 nannies in a single week.

Applicants may be nervous during the interview, so it is often beneficial to start with basic background questions. This allows you to restate the requirements for your job and begin with easy-to-answer questions.

  • Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony and/or a misdemeanor? Have you ever been the subject of a substantiated complaint of child or sexual abuse?
  • Are you comfortable completing a background check? What about a drug screen?
  • Are you legally eligible to work in the United States?
  • Do you have a driver’s license, reliable vehicle, and auto insurance? Have you ever had a moving or driving-related violation or traffic accident (including tickets)?
  • Do you have any food allergies? Do you have any pet allergies? Do you have any diet restrictions? Are you comfortable with the physical demands of the position?
  • Do you have a checking account and are you open to direct deposit payments made by a payroll company?
  • Are you available during the days and times needed for the position?
  • Do you have a second obligation such as a part-time job, college, or another child care commitment?
  • How long would you be interested in this position? What is the longest you have stayed with a family or employer?
  • Can you share 3 to 5 professional references that I can call?
  • Would you be willing to travel and help the family during vacations? Do you have a current passport?
  • Are you looking for a nanny position that only supervises and cares for children or are you open to some family assistant duties such as light housekeeping?

Child Care Education and Certifications

All nannies, whether part or full time, should have current CPR and First Aid certifications and invest in childcare training. When nannies share certifications and course completion certificates, take time to check the reputation of the organization. Professional trade schools and most organizations are reputable but there is at least one online website that offers a free “professional nanny certificate.”

  • Do you have current CPR and First Aid Certifications? When do they need to be renewed?
  • Do you have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent?
  • Do you have any post-secondary (college) level childcare training? Have you earned a Childcare Certification? Are you a certified nanny by the US Nanny Association?
  • What formal nanny or childcare training have you completed? If you have not completed formal training, are you open to taking classes?
  • Do you have relevant training such as certified nursing assistant, newborn care specialist, lifeguard, or certified to install child car seats?
  • Are you fluent in a second language such as sign language, Spanish, French, German, or Mandarin?

Child Care Experience

It is helpful to share information about your family and the children before diving into child experience questions. Explain how you see the nanny fitting into the current structure and schedule of the family as well as share some insights on the personalities of the children. Then, use open-ended questions to learn about the candidate’s experience.

  • Can you share your previous nanny experience? Do you have overnight experience?
  • Can you describe each childcare position?
  • What age children have you cared for? How many children have you cared for at one time?
  • Are you available to care for a child that is ill? Can you share a time you cared for a child that was ill?
  • Tell me about a time you had to handle an urgent childcare issue (illness, injury, other). What happened and how did you manage the situation?
  • What was your typical daily routine at your last childcare position?
  • What are your favorite ages to care for and why?
  • What would you do if you got locked out of the house?
  • What would you do if my son fell off the monkey bars and hit his head?
  • What are your strengths as a nanny? What is an area you would like to improve as a nanny?
  • Tell me about a time you taught a child a new behavior, skills, or provided an age-appropriate learning experience.
  • What would you do if a toddler refused to nap and kept getting out of bed?
  • Did you prepare dinner for children in a previous position? If so, what did you prepare? Did the children sit at the table to eat dinner?

Fit with Your Family

Finding a great fit will be important for success with a nanny. The parents, nanny, and all children need to be comfortable. Here are a few questions to help you understand if the connection feels right.

  • What role do you think a nanny should play within a family?
  • What is your working style? What is an example of a style difference you had with a parent and how did you manage it?
  • What would you do if my child disobeyed your request or was not listening to instructions?
  • Can you share a time you handled a difficult situation like a baby crying uncontrollably or a child having a temper tantrum?
  • What type of activities would you do with the child(ren)? What activities would you do on a rainy day?
  • What experiences do you have providing educational activities? Do you have experience helping with homework?
  • What do you think is an appropriate snack for our children, ages 3 and 5?
  • A friend just texted you while you were caring for the children and asked to talk about an unexpected breakup with her boyfriend. What do you do?

Questions NOT to Ask

Being an employer means your home is a workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits discrimination based on the following: race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age or disability.

To be an equal opportunity employer, you cannot ask a nanny if he or she has children of their own or plans to have children in the future. It is okay; however, for a nanny to volunteer they are a nanny mom or that they are planning to have their own children. To be an equal opportunity employer, you cannot ask a nanny if they are a citizen from another country, but you can ask a nanny if they can provide documentation to legally work in the United States.