How to Prepare for a Nanny Interview
Learn interview tips, how to dress and my five must-ask questions.
While nanny interviews are more relaxed than boardroom business meetings, these are still formal interviews! Prepare like you would for any other interview, but remember that “company culture” is even more important in a home. So, be yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask your potential employers plenty of questions. You need to make sure their family is going to be a good fit for you and your values, too.
The Week Before
There are many schools of thought when it comes to childcare, and owning yours is important! Before heading into an interview, determine your child-rearing values. What’s your stance on discipline? Are you comfortable with corporal punishment? Do you see your childcare style as free-spirited or more conservative? Answering these questions for yourself ahead of time will help you better understand your non-negotiables––the deal breakers in a nanny-parent relationship. Remember: You’re interviewing the parents, too! If you feel like it won’t be a good fit, you’re probably right. Go with your gut!
The Morning of
The parents want to know that you take the job of caring for their children very seriously. That doesn’t mean you need to bust out a business suit, though! A good guideline is to dress for breakfast with your grandmother––wear clean clothes that fit properly and avoid any unnecessary skin exposure. (My go-to outfit? Dark-wash jeans and a nice sweater!) You want to project a professional and confident image, so make sure you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. Parents are going to be looking for someone who they think they can get along with, so being relaxed is going to help your personality shine.
Before heading to the interview, reread the job posting and any communication you had with the parents so everything is top of mind. If you recently updated your resume, give that a second glance, too. Parents are going to want someone who is organized, since little ones tend to be wild and messy.
The Interview Process
Be prepared for multiple rounds of interviews. The parents are going to want to introduce their children to only the very best candidates, so they’ll be to get to know each prospective nanny ahead of time. Plan to meet at a local coffee shop for the first interview. If they ask for your input on where to meet, suggest a place where you’ll feel comfortable. Nothing wrong with a little home-court advantage, right?
The First Round
Since the parents can get a lot of this information from your resume, use the first round as an opportunity to dig a little deeper. Be prepared to talk about your experience and your thoughts on discipline and nutrition. This should be an open, honest conversation. If they bring something up that you’re uncomfortable with, say so respectfully and explain that you cannot be an extension of that value.
Come prepared with your own questions, too! These can be as foundational as how many children there are, their ages and if they have any special requirements. Get to know the parents and try to understand the family dynamics. Lastly, be comfortable discussing who you are! Remember to be as transparent as possible, so the parents feel like they can get to know you on a more personal level.
The Second Round
For second- and third-round interviews, the parents are going to dive into deeper conversations. Because your job is to raise their children when they’re away, they need to know that you’ll be comfortable with specific tasks. If you’re uncomfortable with a question, you absolutely do not have to answer it. If you choose not to disclose certain information, you need to understand that it might be a deciding factor and you might not get that job.
This is your time to ask the tougher questions, too. Draw on your previous experience. Was there something that you’d like to avoid in the future? Ask about it. Did you have a disagreement with a former employer? Bring it up, and try to determine if it’ll be an issue in this job.
The Trial Period
The second-round interview is the earliest stage the parents will introduce you to the children. However, if they don’t plan on involving the children until after they’ve identified a nanny, suggest a trial period! This should be one to a few days in which the parents are around to observe how you interact with the children. At the very least, it makes the potential employer trust you more, knowing that you’re willing to go through that extra step.
To make sure the family is one you can see yourself being a part of, ask the parents questions. Here are my five must-ask interview questions for nannies:
1. What is your philosophy of parenting?
Do they identify as disciplinarians, free-spirited, conservative, liberal, etc.? Does their answer align with your philosophy?
2. What are your family values?
What are the parent’s values about education, playtime, discipline, nutrition, etc.? This is an important question that leads perfectly into a broader conversation about non-negotiables.
3. Who will I report to directly?
This is hugely important. Parents can give different directions without realizing it, which can create unnecessary conflict. Establishing a plan for communication early on is the best way to go. Plan to ask this right off the bat, during either first- or second-round interviews.
4. What are your expectations for housework and/or household chores?
If you’re not looking to be a housekeeper, say so, but know that it might disqualify you. As a nanny, I was always happy to do anything child-related. Picking up after kids and cleaning up the messes we made was all fair game. Deep carpet cleaning was not.
5. Have you ever had a nanny before? How was your relationship with him/her, and is there anything you wish went differently?
Ask what happened with that relationship. Did the family move on and the nanny was unable to come along, or was she/he terminated? If they had a nanny previously, they’ll probably use that experience as a measuring stick moving forward, so make sure you understand what they’re looking for in this job.