By Emily Louange and Glenda Propst
When you prepare for a job interview, you might rehearse the responses you will give to the questions a potential employer might ask. Just as important are the questions you should ask a potential employer when considering a job position. This is a crucial step in assessing the fit and setting yourself up for success.
The work that you do as a nanny is important. During the interview, it is essential to demonstrate that you value your work and yourself. You teach people how you want to be treated. The key is starting things off on the right foot. These questions will help you to do just that.
Take matters into your own hands. It is your professional responsibility to gather the answers to these questions before you agree to take the job!
Preliminary Questions - Phone Interview
Arrange a quick phone conversation before scheduling an in-person interview to be sure there are no “deal-breakers”. Deal-breakers will be unique to each nanny and family.
Questions to assess common deal-breakers include, but are not limited to:
● What is the rate range for this position?
● Is this a W2 position?
● What is the start date?
● What are the hours?
● Is this a short or long-term position?
● Is this a live-in or live-out position?
● Is this a nanny share position?
Along with a copy of your resume, bring a list of the questions below. At the start of the interview, ask if it is alright if you take notes. This will not only ensure all the appropriate questions are answered but demonstrate that you are a serious and professional candidate.
Many families that you interview with have never employed anyone in their home before. Too often nanny work agreements or contracts are an afterthought. These questions will serve as a great start for developing the details of your work agreement.
About the Child(ren)
● Names and ages?
● Any special needs?
● What are the children’s interests and hobbies?
● What is your discipline plan or child-rearing philosophy?
● Who makes the children’s schedules (parents, nanny, or is setting their schedule a combined effort)?
● What’s your procedure for spontaneous activities, outings, playdates, etc?
● How do you prefer updates or check-ins throughout the day? If so by text, email, or app and at what frequency?
● Do you want a daily record kept of activities, diet, sleep, etc?
Core Values and Religion
● What values do you want to be taught and reinforced in your children?
● Is religion a part of your daily life?
● Do you expect your nanny to participate in any religious teaching or practices (prayers at mealtime, bedtime, holiday practices, etc)? If you incorporate any religious practices or beliefs in the childcare you deliver, be sure this does not clash with the family’s wishes.
● What were your best and worst experiences with your previous childcare?
● If you’ve had a previous nanny, what did your family like most about the nanny? What did you like least?
● May I speak to your previous nannies about their experiences with your family and children?
The Work Environment
● Occupation of the parent(s)?
● Do you work outside the home or from your home? If the parents work at home, guidelines should be established on the structure of things as this can be a tricky dynamic to navigate.
● Are other adults, besides the parents, living in the home?
● Is there other household help? If so, who supervises them?
● Can you describe your home and the neighborhood?
● Do you anticipate moving in the near future?
● Do you have a nanny camera? Will you inform your nanny if you get a camera?
● Is there a house alarm, gated entry or another system that requires a code?
● What are the household rules?
● Are any rooms in your house off-limits to children or nanny?
● Are guests allowed, such as other nannies and moms with age-appropriate children for playdates?
● Are there any other household restrictions due to religion, personal preference, food allergies, or others I should be aware of?
● Is there any sort of dress code for a nanny at work (i.e., no jeans)?
● Will there be a nanny workstation such as a desk area for files, bulletin board, monthly calendar, or computer with a high-speed Internet connection?
● Will Workmans Compensation (required in most states depending on the number of hours worked) be provided or have you added a rider to your homeowner’s insurance policy in case of injury of persons paid to be on your property?
● How would you describe the “ideal nanny”?
● Can you define your idea of your nanny’s role in your family?
● What are nanny’s responsibilities as they relate to children?
● Are non-child-related tasks and responsibilities a part of the job? If so, how do you define light housework? It's important to define this in detail. Does the nanny wash only dished used while working or all dishes? Does general tidying mean only messes made while caring for the child or cleaning a playroom that was used when the nanny was not working. What does “cleaning” mean? Is it sweeping, mopping, cleaning toilets, and dusting? Does the nanny job require doing the laundry for the children and/or parents, too? Who makes and changes the children’s bedding?
● Who plans the meals, cooks, and shops for groceries? What financial arrangements will be made to facilitate the shopping? Will the nanny cook for the children, parents, or family?
● Who purchases the children’s clothes, toys, and supplies?
● Will I be expected to take the children to doctor appointments, music lessons, classes?
● Will there be any pet duties now or in the future?
● Do you plan on having more children?
● Will job description change during different times of year/with schedule change?
● Is a car provided? Is the car available for the nanny’s personal use, or only for use while she is on duty? Will the vehicle shared with the parents? Confirm you are covered on an insurance plan.
● Will I be expected to transport children in my own car? This typically requires special insurance as it is considered driving for business (commercial use) rather than personal use.
● Who will pay costs for insurance, maintenance, and gas?
● Do you travel? Will your nanny be expected to travel with you? Will your nanny be required to pack the children’s bags for trips?
● Do you ever travel without your children, and if so, what arrangements are made for them?
● Will your nanny be expected to stay with the children while you travel?
● When will the hours fluctuate (summer, holidays) and when are they consistent (regular schedule)? How will the work schedule be communicated (google calendar, email, handwritten) and how much notice will be provided?
● Is there a maximum number of hours the nanny wants to work per week
● Are there hours that the nanny will not work
● How much advance notice is required if the hours change. If the nanny is not okay with staying late, this boundary should be established during the interview.
Before discussing salary and benefits, it is important to differentiate sitters and nannies. Nannies can preface the discussion by explaining that this work is a career choice. Emphasize that you are serious about your job, having invested in training and reputable credentials to provide quality childcare and that you count on a regular paycheck to make a living.
● What rate are you offering?
● How often will I be paid, and by what method? Is a payroll service used?
● What is the rate for overtime, overnight or weekend work, or 24-hour duty?
● Is there a guaranteed minimum pay or guaranteed hours?
● Will you compensate for unexpected days off that nanny does not initiate. This may include when grandparents come to town and parents giving the nanny time off or parents take the children to visit relatives.
● What days are paid holidays and paid time off? Confirm the nanny chooses their own vacation days rather than being required to use vacation time when the family takes vacation days.
● How many paid or unpaid sick days are allocated? What is the backup childcare plan if the nanny is sick or on vacation?
● How many professional days can the nanny take for childcare related classes and conferences? Will the family provide an annual stipend for continuing education and if so, how much?
● Do the position come with a gym membership, health insurance, IRA, or retirement benefits
Work Agreements and Annual Review
Express how important communication is between nannies and their employers. Confirm that the family will support a written work agreement and at least an annual update of the work agreement (sample work agreements are available in the US Nanny Association Digital Library).
● Are you willing to meet with me on a regular basis so we can discuss how things are going including 1 month after the start date, 3 months after the start date and then annually?
● Will there be a standard 1-3% annual cost of living raise?
● Will there be a merit raise raise at annual review?
● In the event of the birth of another child, will there be a rate increase?
● Will the nanny receive severance pay if terminated early?
● Can we have a paid trial or working interview with the child(ren) before the work agreement is signed?
Questions for Live-In Nannies
● What accommodations are provided (room, bath, etc.)? If a separate apartment, how will grocery expenses be handled? Who is responsible for cleaning the common areas and to what standards?
● How will days off be respected/protected?
● How do nanny’s activities on her day off affect the household’s flow?
● Will you cover moving expenses upon accepting and completing the position?
While this is a comprehensive list, there are many other questions you may want to ask. This list provides you a great starting point. If during the interview, anything the potential employer says is unclear, do not hesitate to ask for them to clarify or elaborate. Problems and resentments arise when assumptions are made. Good luck with your interview!