From writing a job description to interviews, orientations and work agreements, here are the steps to hire a nanny. 

The Ultimate Guide to Hire a Nanny is an expanded resource with 18 chapters dedicated to the hiring process and managing a nanny. The Ultimate Guide to Hire a Nanny provides additional job descriptions, recommendations on what type of nanny is best for your family, how to select candidates, lists of example interview questions, provides two different tools to use for candidate assessment and more. If you are not working with an agency, the Ultimate Guide to Hire a Nanny is a valuable resource.

1. Define the job

Writing the job description and clearly defining the duties and compensation will help you find the right candidates. The content of the job post can attract or repel top nanny talent so take a few minutes to write a strong job description. Posts that include photos are three times more likely to be clicked so if you are comfortable, upload a nice photo of your family (it’s okay to block or blur the child’s face). You want to complete as many of the profile elements as possible, so nannies can understand your family’s needs and job duties. You may also want to share a quirky story about the children such as their favorite snack or how they like to ask a million questions. Be descriptive so that nannies have enough information to decide if they want to connect to learn more about the position. Also, be aware that the information shared will be viewed by others so do not post private information. To boost your profile value, ask your current nanny and occasional sitters to leave positive reviews and write insights into the comments box. Here is an example of a job description:

Single mom needs a nonsmoking, live-in nanny for early mornings, evenings, overnights, and weekends. The nanny would work ~20 hours per week to help care for a 4-year-old boy and help manage the household. The child is in daycare (Monday – Friday, 8am – 5:30pm) and a live-in is needed to build a strong bond with the child so the routine stays familiar when mom travels overnight (on average 2-4 nights a month) for business.

The nanny will need to have a car, driver’s license, auto insurance, and a clean driving record. The nanny can have a second job or take college classes when the child is at daycare during the week as long as the nanny is available if there is an emergency or the child becomes ill and must go home. In exchange for nanny and family assistant services (pick up, drop off, babysitting, sick days) and helping to manage the household (cooking, laundry, driving to karate and swim class), the nanny will get a furnished private bedroom and bath with all utilities (including cable tv and wifi) plus $15 per hour.

The nanny must have current CPR and First Aid, at least some college or a US Nanny certification, and at least 3 years of nanny experience. The ideal nanny will be looking to join our household long term with a minimum of a one-year commitment. For those who like pets, we have a cat.

2. Determine the cost

Childcare costs are often the highest or 2nd largest family expense and the salary you can afford to pay is one of the most important elements in finding a great nanny. Families can’t realistically hire a Certified Professional Nanny at a sitter rate so it’s important to help families understand the different types and rates for sitters, nannies, and family assistants. ​Salaries vary widely across the country and even within states. As of March 29, 2021, ZipRecruiter reports the average full time, live-out nanny earns $33,103 ($15.91 per hour) with a salary range of $23,000 to $52,000.

3. Find candidates

Most families and nannies connect through online job boards and nanny agencies but some find each other through networking. Finding good nanny candidates and selecting the right nanny for you takes time. Many families seek a nanny with just a few weeks’ notice but planning ahead can save a lot of stress. Although the average is about 6 weeks, it can take several months to find your perfect nanny. Heated competition among families for top nannies requires employers to act fast but you must be careful to get the right fit for your family.

4. Conduct interviews

Standard interview processes have multiple steps:​

  • Review the nanny’s resume, the profile on a job board, or get background information about the nanny from the nanny agency to determine if they meet the minimum requirements and are within the desired compensation range for the job.

  • Conduct a screening interview via phone or Skype to determine the nanny’s level of interest in the position and ask your most important interview questions to determine if the candidate is a potential fit for the nanny job.

  • Meet the nanny in person to get to know them without the children present. Often, families and nannies meet for coffee or tea.

  • Introduce the nanny to the child or children in a neutral, stress free environment like a neighborhood park and see how they interact.

When interviewing nannies, it’s important to remember you are vetting their qualifications to care for your children. You are hiring a nanny, not trying to make a friend or help someone who needs a job. Ask each question in a neutral tone of voice and be careful you don’t give them the answer you want as you form the question. For example, you want to say, “tell me about a time you handled an emergency” instead of, “you’ve handled an emergency when you had to comfort a child who fell and put a bandage on a scrap, right?”

5. Assess candidates or pick an agency

It seems simple enough but picking the right person to hire can be challenging. In some cases, it’s easy to disqualify a nanny if they don’t meet the desired training, have the years of experience desired, or their hourly wage is higher than your budget. Always disqualify any potential nanny who make you feel uncomfortable or uncertain. You may be able to articulate why you aren’t comfortable or it may be a gut feeling, but if you don’t think it’s a good fit, then don’t hire that person. Your goal is to hire someone to take care of your children, so you should feel secure when you have selected the right nanny.

6. Conduct a background check

Background checks search federal, state, and local databases for criminal records to help families hire with confidence. To legally run a background check, you must be an employer. If you want to conduct background checks before filing for an EIN, you can do so with permission from the nanny or asking the nanny to submit for the background check on their own. Not all background checks are equal so make sure you research and pay a fair price for a thorough background check.

7. Check references

You have found a great nanny – she’s qualified, confident, and nailed the interview. Keep your excitement but slow down and invest the time to call the nanny’s references. Unfortunately, not all nannies are honest. When you call a nanny’s references, you must be professional and respectful. References are volunteering their time to help a nanny. If references are treated poorly by potential employees, then they are less likely to be a reference in the future and will tell the nanny and agency about the experience. A poor experience may mean the agency or nanny may no longer be interested in working with you.

8. Offer a job with a written work agreement

Taking the time to draft, agree on terms, and sign a nanny work agreement can protect both the family and nanny. Even more importantly, it can ensure everyone has the same expectations. Confusion between a family and a nanny is reduced when everyone is clear on the responsibilities. A too-informal work arrangement can cause confusion whereby, a written agreement can provide clarity and make disputes easier to solve amicably. Setting expectations and guidelines at the beginning of a working relationship will create a foundation for success.

9. Conduct trial and host a paid orientation

Before hiring a nanny, many families have a nanny playdate also called a working interview, so the nanny and children can meet one another before the family decides to offer the position and the nanny decides if they want to accept the position. Unless the meeting is a paid orientation, this interaction should not be longer than 30 minutes with the goal of the nanny and children meeting each other and perhaps engaging in a few minutes of play.

Nanny trial periods and orientations allow the family to show the nanny how they communicate with the children, their expectations for the children, and how they interact with the children. The nanny can learn morning routines, meals and snack preparation, and nap time sleep routines through shadowing. The nanny can better understand the family’s needs, learn the house rules, and gain insights into the family dynamics. By working together for a day or two, and letting the nanny supervise the children on their own for a few hours, the family and nanny can ask questions to learn more about each other as well as ways to execute the duties associated with the job.

10. Sign up with a payroll service

Hiring a nanny requires a family to become an employer, pay taxes, and extend their insurance coverage to include a domestic worker. There are countless service providers able to automate and help with these tasks. It may sound complex but legally employing a nanny doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can do it yourself or hire a payroll service.

11. Invest in nanny career development

Help you nanny advance their career by offering a bonus or stipend for continuing education including attending the annual Parent and Nanny Conference. Nannies invest in childcare training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses also provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers. Continuing education courses specific to their childcare duties also enhances the nanny’s ability to better care for your children.

12. Manage a nanny departure

Transitions can be a challenge for children and adults but with some planning and focus, there are ways to make it smoother for everyone. As a nanny transitions out of the home, be respectful and compassionate. ​When possible and age-appropriate, tell the children in advance that the nanny will be departing. Align with the nanny and give consistent answers about when and why the nanny is leaving. Allow children to ask questions and help them through their emotions and feelings. Share the positives things the nanny did for the children and how those things will still get done, either by a new nanny or by other members of the family. Let children know it’s okay to miss the nanny. Importantly, make sure the children know the nanny’s departure is not their fault. With support and communication, children can learn to manage change and develop resiliency.

The US Nanny Association thanks all the nannies, advocates and business leaders who provide practical tips and insight to elevate our industry. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

Elizabeth Malson

Dedicated to supporting childcare providers and families, Elizabeth is an executive leader with over 20 years in medical technology and education. Elizabeth is the Founder of the US Nanny Institute, an online college for nannies. Elizabeth earned a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina State University, a Master of Science from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina.