8 Top Tips for Interviewing a prospective Nanny

Regular readers of this blog will know that prior to having my own children I was a Nanny for 14 years, I always knew from a young age that I wanted to work with children – it was a calling or perhaps a passion.
All of my school work experience placements were taken in schools and Nursery settings and as soon as I was able to choose my school options I geared them towards my already chosen career, studying for my GNVQ in Health and Social Care in the 6th form and then my DNN (Diploma in Nursery Nursing) at college.
During college I worked as a Mother’s help and after leaving spent a year working in a Day Nursery.  After that year I knew it wasn’t the job for me as I was too confined to a job in just one room with a lot of structure and little time for free play and spontaneity – I don’t like rules and regulations so it really didn’t suit me at all.
I left the Day Nursery and went back to work for the family I used work with as a Mother’s help, only this time as a part-time Nanny, and then worked part-time for their friend looking after another little boy.  For 3 days a week I looked after 3 children (2 girls and a boy) and 2 days a week one little boy.  It suited me well as I didn’t get bored in the week – there wasn’t any time for that and I was able to do a wide range of clubs and activities with the different family’s.  Day trips and spontaneous days out were easiest with the one boy, while clubs such as Tumble Tots and craft groups were best for the other family.
When I was no longer needed in my 2 days a week job, I went full time with the first family and here I stayed for 6 years until all those children were in full-time school and I was no longer needed.
I then needed to look for a new job, and having just walked into my previous roles it took a little time to find a family who I gelled with – you see being a Nanny is a two way interview process; not only does the family interview me to see if I would be the perfect fit for their family but I also interview them too – If I am to work that closely within their household I needed to know I not only get on with the children but the family too.
Joining a Nanny Agency for my first port of call and having my CRB check re-done, Nannies will need a new check for each new job so having it ready saves time, I then registered with OFSTED as it made me more attractive to prospective employers as they would be able to use their works childcare voucher scheme as part of my payments.
Once I had filled out my forms, had my clean CRB check returned and told the agency the type of work I was looking for, areas I could work and sold myself so to speak to them, it was then their turn to sell me to the parents who if interested would line up an interview.
Having had many interviews and been offered many jobs during this time I was able to work out which families suited me and know which I would fit into nicely.  The family I then worked with was my last – I started when their daughter was 6 months old and left 7 years later when they had 2 children and I had Emmy – it was with the Mum from this family I then set up my own Nanny Agency for a while.

Top Tips for interviewing a prospective Nanny
When interviewing a prospective Nanny it is important to remember they may be as nervous as you are, even if they have years and years of experience (you are a stranger to them after all and they have just entered your home for the first time).
  1. Try to choose a quiet time to meet with them for the first time, a weekend when you have another pair of hands to look after the children, or an evening when the children are in bed.
    I know you will want to eventually see how they get on with the children but you will get all of your questions answered and remember them if you’ve no distraction.  Use this first meeting to ask your questions and get a feel for the Nanny.
  2. Try to make it as informal/relaxed as you can – yes this is an interview but sitting across a desk with a pile of questions in front of you won’t put either of you at ease.  Move it to the front room or even the garden if a nice summers evening.  Offer a cuppa or a soft drink (cracking open a bottle of wine may not give the right impression for a first meeting)
  3. Interview as a team.  This is if you are a two parent family of course, you parent as a team so may want to interview as one two.  You both may have different questions to ask or can ask the ones the other person forgets.
  4. Check references, try to call and take with the person on the phone whenever possible (not during the interview process – before or after), check both personal ones and work ones, if they don’t have work ones yet ask to speak with their collage tutor or teacher instead or someone from a work placement.  Also check their certificates of qualifications, Qualified Nannies will have to have an up-to-date first aid certificate, a food hygiene certificate as well as her training certificate (mine is a DNN – Diploma in Nursery Nursing) and will need to have a current CRB certificate.
  5. Invite questions.  You will have lots of questions to as but they also will want some answered – you may not have the answer straight away and that’s OK, just say it’s not something you had discussed yet but would do and get back to her/him.
    I always asked about babysitting requirements, holidays (whether I would be required to go with the family), days outs and playdates.  Of course once you have been with a family for sometime these may/will change but having an idea if you are required to babysit weekly/monthly as part of your contract is always handy to know.
  6. Invite them back to meet the children at another time.  If you like them or think you may do you don’t have to make a decision on the spot.  Why not see how they children get alone with them first?  Allow a little time to get to know each other and see if they are happy to get down on the floor with the kids to play, if they suggest things to do and engage with them. 
  7. Be clear on the job roles.  Generally Nannies are responsible for cleaning and clearing areas which the children use – so their bedrooms, keeping the bathroom clean after the children have used it, the kitchen clean after preparing the children’s meals etc. and the children’s laundry however most will be happy to pop your laundry on when doing the children’s washing but if you don’t want this just tell them, or vice versa if you would like to just ask if they mind.  Don’t expect as it isn’t their job but I haven’t yet come across one who does mind.
  8. Clear communication is key – ask your questions, invite them to ask some and try to relax.  You will get a far better idea of a persons personality once they relax and if you do forget to ask something call and ask the following day – they really won’t mind at all.

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