Baby Care

Nanny job interview tips (plus, questions and answers) to help get you hired

An interview with a potential employer is one of the most critical steps in a nanny job search. The answers you give and the questions you ask provide you an opportunity to not only highlight how well you fit a particular job description but also to find out if the job and family is the right fit for you. Interviews can show how professional and qualified you are, and they can help you make a lasting impression. In fact, one survey of 2,000 bosses shows that many employers know within the first 90 seconds whether they will hire you or not, so take some time to prepare yourself for that first impression.

“I could tell right away that our nanny was right for us,” says mom of two Julie Macon. “She was prepared, professional and had thorough responses to everything we asked. She was also warm and seemed at home.”

Professional nanny Allie Borgeson agrees that the best interview advice is to impress the family, feel confident and enjoy yourself. Not every interview will go perfectly, but being prepared will help you make a great first impression and increase your odds of getting hired.

To gear you up for the nanny interview process, here are some tips for what to do ahead of phone and in-person interviews. We outline what questions you should be prepared to answer, what questions you should plan to ask the prospective employer and how to follow up after the interview.

Nanny interview tips from start to finish

The phone interview: Get acquainted, be clear on your job goals

When a family or employer likes your resume or online profile, they’ll often schedule an initial phone interview before an in-person interview.

“I find out everything I can about the family before interviewing,” says professional nanny Jeanette George.

George says she reads the family’s online profile, if they have one, and also searches for them on Google. This, she says, ensures her safety as a nanny and that she’ll have added knowledge of the family ahead of the interview.

In the phone interview, be prepared to discuss your qualifications, availability and expectations:

  • Services you offer. “Be sure to mention your credentials — whether it be a CPR card, a degree in early childhood education, an online course you took and even books you’ve read,” Borgeson says. If you’re fluent in another language or have availability not highlighted in your resume or online profile, this is the perfect time to let them know.
  • Availability: Find out if the position is part- or full-time, and make sure the hours you’re available line up with the hours the family needs you to work.
  • Salary requirements. Ask questions like “What salary/hourly rate are you hoping to stay within?” or “I charge $X, are you comfortable with that?” Salary can be the deciding factor for both parties, so get it out of the way sooner rather than later. Learn more about setting your nanny rates.
  • Any non-negotiables. If you can’t work with someone who smokes or if you’re unable to drive a car, make sure you communicate this so you don’t waste anyone’s time.
  • References. This will likely come after an in-person interview, but have your references ready ahead of time just in case. Ask permission from new references before including them in your list, but try to provide three to five references. If you’re new to nannying, ask for references from families you’ve babysat for, or even provide character references from teachers, neighbors, etc.

The in-person interview: Arrive early, come prepared

If your phone interview goes well, your potential employer will likely schedule an in-person interview with you. The setting for a nanny interview might be slightly more casual than the average job interview. For example, you may meet at a café, park or the family’s home. So you should plan on dressing professionally but comfortably.

“Most families allow some time at the end of the interview for the nanny to interact with the children,” says Natalei Guardiola of Colorado Nanny. “[So] wear something that you would feel comfortable in playing on the floor or in the yard with a child.”

Plan on spending an hour or more with the family, just to be safe. People can run late and conversations can turn into chitchat, and you don’t want your interview cut short as a result. You should also arrive at the interview location 10 to 15 minutes early. This will show your prospective employers that you’re serious about this job and that you can be trusted to be on time when they need you.

“This may mean you will have to sit in your car outside of their house [or meeting place] for a few minutes before going in,” Guardiola says, “but you won’t risk arriving late.”

Have the family’s contact information handy in case you have trouble finding their home or are running late. You should also bring your professional portfolio, which will ideally include:

  • Your resume or CV.
  • Certificates and proof of education (e.g., your CPR certification card, a copy of your diploma, etc.).
  • References with full names and up-to-date contact information.
  • Printed background check information (or permission for them to access it).
  • A list of questions to ask the employer (see below).

Once you arrive at the interview, be friendly and introduce yourself. Allow the employers to get the interview started and guide the direction of the conversation. Try to determine if your personality aligns with the family by getting to know each other a bit before diving into the nitty-gritty of the job itself.

What you might be asked during your nanny interview

Here’s a sampling of some of the more common questions a family might ask. Practice answering these questions ahead of your interview:

Questions about your experience:

  • Tell me about your experience working with children.
  • How long have you been nannying?
  • What age ranges do you have experience working with?
  • Is there a preferred age that you are most comfortable working with? Why?

Questions about activities you do:

  • What activities do you like doing with children?
  • Are you willing to go on short outings (e.g., to nearby parks, museums, etc.)?
  • What activities did you enjoy growing up?
  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Questions about discipline:

  • How do you comfort children?
  • How do you discipline children?
  • Have you had problems in the past following family preferences in terms of discipline?
  • Are you comfortable enforcing routines?
  • Have you had a difficult child care moment? How did you handle the situation?

Questions about safety:

  • Have you ever had to handle an emergency?
  • Are you CPR-certified? Do you have a basic understanding of first-aid skills?
  • Have you ever worked with children with allergies?
  • Would you be willing to do a background check?

Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, it does cover the broader themes that many families may discuss when they’re interviewing a candidate. As your potential employers are asking you questions, feel free to add follow-ups like, “Could you clarify on that?” or “Do you think that will happen a lot when I work with you?”

What you should ask during a nanny interview

Don’t forget that you’re interviewing the family, as well. Come prepared with a list of questions that will help you get a better idea of whether this job is right for you.

“It’s up to the candidate,” Borgeson says, “to use their intuition — and questions — to determine if they could mesh well with a family.”

Ask questions about the role:

  • Can you walk me through a typical day? What are your family routines and who is involved?
  • How many hours per week would you want me to work?
  • What do you expect of me? Will I cook meals/do housework/wash clothes/provide homework help?
  • Are you open to me taking your child to local parks, or would you prefer we stay at or around your home?
  • Will you provide “petty cash” for fun experiences/outings, or do you provide reimbursements?
  • What resources and contacts do you have if there is an emergency?

Ask questions about the child you would be caring for:

  • Are there any medical conditions, such as asthma or allergies? Are they on any medications?
  • Does your child have any chores and responsibilities?
  • What are their favorite activities, books and toys?
  • Does your child have any nicknames or imaginary friends?
  • Is there anything that frightens your child?
  • Are there any unusual habits or behaviors? Should I try to help them break that habit?
  • Is there any behavior you would like me to reinforce?
  • Should I pay special attention to certain issues or behaviors?
  • What sorts of behavioral issues typically arise, and when?

Ask questions about the family:

  • Should I be aware of any religious, political or cultural preferences?
  • How does your family handle discipline issues with children (e.g., redirection, timeout, giving consequences, etc.)?
  • How do you expect me to discipline? At what point should I contact you if a disciplinary issue arises?
  • What are your rules for screen time or talking on the phone?

It helps to bring a list of “must-ask” questions, whether in a notebook or printed, so you can check them off as you go.

“Often times, we don’t think of many of the questions we would like to ask until after the interview,” says Lewahn Wallace, of Modern Nanny. “Do research online the night before so the questions are still on your mind.”

When you’ve asked all your questions, the parent will usually let you know when they’ll make a decision. That said, there are a few things that you should do after the interview that will help you get the job you want.

The follow-up: Send a ‘thank you’ but keep applying

Don’t wait around to hear back from potential employers — even if you feel great about the interview. Instead, send a thank-you message via email to let them know you appreciated their time. If the family asked you to send any additional details or documents, include those in the message. Keep it short, and close with a line like, “I look forward to hearing from you.”

Then, get back to applying for other positions. Having multiple interviews will sharpen your skills and give you a better idea of what “sells” in your specific field. It will also help you find the best fit for you and will ensure that you’re not left without a job should the first family find someone else.

Borgeson also recommends that caregivers stay up to date on early childhood development with books and articles while you wait for the right family to come along.

If you hear back from the family that they’ve found someone else, don’t panic. That just means the situation wasn’t the best fit or they went with a different care option.

If the family does extend a job offer, and before you accept, it’s recommended to have a contract that you’re comfortable with. A nanny contract can include everything from your schedule and pay to the daily duties, routines and expectations while you’re on the job. You should also have a good feeling about working with the family. After all, your job is a major part of your life, and you want to enjoy it.

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