How to Hire a Nanny

How to Hire a Nanny

April 19, 2017

How to Hire a Nanny

How to Hire a Nanny
Seven simple steps to hiring the best nanny for your familyHow to Hire a Nanny

You’ve done all the research, crunched the numbers and now it’s time for the next step: finding and hiring the right nanny for you and your baby (or babies).

Keep in mind that, for some, this process includes intangibles like feeling doubt or guilt (or both all at the same time!) and learning to trust your gut. It’s not a scientific process, and it’s important to follow your instincts throughout. Here’s everything else you need to know:

Timeline

Give yourself 1 - 2 months to hire a nanny.

How early should you start the nanny hiring process? “The process shouldn’t be rushed,” says Laura Davis, franchise owner of College Nannies + Sitters + Tutors. “You want to plan ahead and give yourself enough time to sort through the candidates. Waiting until the last minute often forces you to settle on someone who doesn’t quite fit your needs or criteria.”

For most people, 1-2 months before they need the nanny is the ideal amount of time. This includes all steps below, but the actual search/interview part will likely take place about one month before you need your nanny to begin.

1. Imagine (and Describe) Your Ideal Nanny

Who and what does your family need? Keep in mind that this person will not just be a caregiver, but will also be your employee, so some crucial aspects of what makes a good worker (open communication, ability to take critique well, time-management skills, etc) should be taken into consideration.

When figuring out who you’re looking for, try this exercise. Make a list of all your wants and needs based on two major categories: Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves.

Must-Haves include all your non-negotiables. These are the basics that every candidate must meet to even be considered for the job. Some questions to help you get started are:

  • What’s your desired level of experience and education? You may want someone that has had at least four years experience taking care of infants.

  • What kind of personality do you prefer or need? Do you need someone who is highly organized, or more laid-back? Do you need someone who will over-communicate and be proactive or do you get along better with someone who lets you take the lead?

  • What schedule do you need, and how flexible must they be? Do you need someone full-time or part-time, and what specific days and times of the week do you need? What start date do you need? How flexible do you need nannies to be about hours, for example, if you often end up working late?

  • Do they need to live somewhere specific? Think about the job location: in your home, or someone else’s home if you’re doing a nanny share, etc. Would you prefer someone local in your neighborhood or surrounding town? A nanny’s commute can be a major factor in their scheduling ability.

  • What are their child-rearing philosophies? What kind of discipline techniques do you want the nanny to follow, and how would you like them to communicate with you about any of these issues when they happen?

  • Will you require any responsibilities beyond standard childcare? Do you expect light housekeeping related to the baby, doing the child’s laundry, cooking, etc?

  • Are there any other special provisions you require specifically? CPR-certification, a driver’s license (to bring kids to and from school), speaking a specific language, experience with a child with special needs, etc?

Nice-to-Haves include anything that would bump one candidate over another seemingly equal candidate. None of these are dealbreakers. These are just a few examples of questions you might consider:

  • Do they have similar interests to your children or yourself? If your children are into baseball, for example, maybe a nanny who has the same favorite team, or one who loves music as much as you do and will also teach your kids to love music.

  • Do you need someone who has extra availability beyond the standard work week? Someone who has Saturday night or date night availability?

  • Do you need someone to do regular housekeeping beyond what the kids need? This may come with a higher rate than a standard nanny.

2. Write a Job Description

This is taking everything you imagined above and putting it into a concise, clear posting for job sites, or to email friends or family when asking for referrals. Most job posts include:

  • A short description: This is usually where the personality you’re looking for comes into play. Include adjectives and keywords about yourself and what you’re looking for here.

  • List of duties and responsibilities: Use straightforward language and list everything you need clearly. Some examples of this would be: driving the kids to activities, cooking all the children’s meals, or following a nap schedule.

  • Job/Education Requirements: If a Bachelor’s degree or CPR certification is non-negotiable, make sure you include that.

  • Salary: Don’t forget to include any benefits or perks that you’ll offer.

If you’re not sure where to start, some good example and templates can be found on MyNannyContract, FulltimeNanny.com, and NannyClassifieds.

3. Post It

Personal recommendations can go a long way to connecting with the right nanny, but if you’ve exhausted your immediate friends and family, check out (keep in mind that some of the websites require membership fees):

4. Interview Your Nanny

Some parents do two interviews: a phone screen to ask big questions for a first round of eliminations, and then an in-person interview to dig further into the details and get to know each other better. Parents highly recommend including your children in this interview to see how they’ll interact.

You’ll want to tailor these questions depending on what’s most important to you, but this list is a great place to get started.

  • It’s so nice to meet you. Can you tell me a few things about yourself? What made you want to be a nanny?

  • Tell me about your work history. (Pick one or two families from her resume to focus on.) What were the kids like? How long did you stay with them? Why did you leave? Are you still in touch with the family?

  • Tell me about a typical day you have with a [insert your child’s age here] 3-year-old? Do you prefer a more structured schedule or one that is more loose?

  • Can you give me examples of a stressful or emergency situation that happened while you were taking care of a baby or child and how you handled it? (Ask follow-up or prodding questions if she doesn’t seem to be specific enough.)

  • Can you give me examples of times you’ve had to discipline a child? What methods did you use and why did you choose those methods? (This question more pertinent for older children, rather than those with infants.) What do you feel is the nanny’s main role here?

  • What’s your favorite part of being a nanny?

  • What do you find challenging/hard about being a nanny?

  • What are you most proud of in your time as a nanny so far?

  • How flexible is your schedule (to discuss what happens if you need to work late or come home early)?

  • Are there any activities/responsibilities you won’t do? (Some nannies will not do any housekeeping – even if it’s related to the children.)

  • If you have specific things you’re looking for (a nanny who will speak to your child in a second language, one that will focus on arts and crafts or bring your child to music class), be sure to ask specifically about her expertise/comfort or skill level related to that.

  • If you want this, ask if they are comfortable giving periodic updates/photos. Some nannies happily text pictures or even send Snapchat stories throughout the day if this is something you’re looking for.

5. References and Background Checks

There’s nothing wrong with double checking that what you’ve been told is fact and not fabrication. “Because you are trusting this person with your children, you should always get a second opinion before hiring a nanny. Do a background check and call all of their references,” advises Davis. “A simple Internet search won’t cut it, even if it’s someone you know. You should run state, criminal, national sexual offender and social security number searches.”

If you’ve found a nanny through an agency, they may have already been screened, but if you found them through a job site or personal referral, it would go a long way in making you feel safe and comfortable if you do your due diligence. Background checks are pretty standard in the nanny industry, according to CriminalWatchdog.com, so don’t worry about offending your potential hire.

To learn more about what kind of background checks to perform and how much they cost, check out these sites that offer different packages and services:

When it comes to calling references, prepare and write down your questions ahead of time so you don’t forget any important details. And since most job candidates will give you the references most likely to give them the best reviews, you can also ask for all previous employer’s contact information and call a select few to get a fuller picture of your job candidate.

Some questions you might ask are:

  • Fact-checking: to ensure that the responsibilities, dates, and salary, for example, your nanny shared with you were true. “How long did [Insert Nanny’s name] work for you?”

  • Performance-based: “What were some of her strengths? How does she handle stress or emergency situations? Is she organized? Pro-active? Communicative?”

  • Advice-seeking: “I’m planning on asking her to do X, Y, and Z. Do you think she can handle those responsibilities?” Or, “Would you hire her again? Why or why not?”

6. Testing, Testing: Doing a Trial Session

A trial day or week is key to figure out can they do this job.

For some, this is the most important step in the entire process. This is when the theoretical becomes reality and you can test your chemistry, as well as the chemistry between your potential nanny and child.

“Some applicants may look great on paper but when they are in your home doing the actual job you may feel that there is something missing,” says Holly Flanders, owner of Choice Parenting. “Having a trial period will give you the opportunity to see if there are any warning signs of lateness, laziness, or certain personality traits that may not work well with your family.”

It’s best to do this, too, if you’re having a hard time picking between two seemingly equal candidates. Doing a trial usually makes the choice clear for you. Keep in mind that most trials are paid, but it’s usually money well spent. They are generally only a week or two long.

7. The Nanny Contract

Once you’ve found the person you’re most excited about, feel comfortable with, and whose background checks and references all cleared beautifully, you’ll want to make the job offer official by putting it down on paper. While creating a nanny contract isn’t legally required (though it is legally binding), it can go a long way in preventing confusion or communication problems down the line.

What should it include? At least the basics like:

  • Standard work hours

  • Childcare duties and any non-childcare duties

  • Wages and pay schedule

  • Benefits (such as paid holidays, vacation, health insurance)

  • Additional payments (like gas reimbursement)

  • Emergency plans

Here are some sample nanny contracts:

… And that’s it! At the end of this exhaustive process, you’ll have a new person in your life to rely on, commiserate with, tell funny kid stories to, and who will understand (and hopefully love) your kids as much as you do.

One Babylist user laid out all the pros beautifully when they said, “Our children get lots of personal attention and their schedule and activities are exactly what we specify. Our nanny is like another parent — we know the babies are getting love all day and we trust her completely.”



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Karell Roxas is a writer, editor and parent who lives in Brooklyn.

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