Hiring a nanny is perhaps the single most important task you will do as a parent because whoever you hire is not only responsible for the health and safety of your child, but their social and emotional development as well.
Too often parents rush through the task of hiring a nanny, eager to find an extra helping hand or driven by a looming back-to-work deadline. Don’t give in to the temptation. Rushing to hire a nanny often results in the bad hires you see on the news or hear about at Mommy and Me groups.
Shift your thinking from “Hiring a Nanny” to “Attracting a Nanny”
Hiring a nanny is no different from any other hiring situation, except that most parents don’t have a background in human resources like corporate hiring managers. That’s why I mapped out a step-by-step process for hiring a nanny.
Instead of thinking of it as you hiring a nanny, think of your job as attracting a nanny. The objective is to clearly identify what you want in a nanny and build a hiring process that attracts the best nanny candidates and repels the nannies that aren’t a fit for your family.
Often parents assume that salary is the only tool at their disposal for attracting the quality and level of candidates that they would like. This is not necessarily the case, which is why your hiring strategy needs to include a bit of a sales pitch on why the best nanny candidates would want to work for you!
7 Tips on Finding the Right Fit for your Family when Hiring a Nanny
Hiring a Nanny Tip #1: Create a wish list that reflects your family values
Sit down and decide what is important to your family. Do you want a nanny who is going to get down on the floor with your child and play or one who doubles as a housekeeper/maid to help out around the house? Get very specific about your wish list and then prioritize it.
Hiring a Nanny Tip #2: Write an ad to attract the right nanny for your family
Writing an ad to hire a nanny is where many parents go wrong. Don’t start your ad by listing the qualities you want in a nanny; start by selling potential nanny candidates on WHY they would want to work for you.
Describe what type of environment the nanny will be working in, share your parenting philosophy, include your values in the description, and talk about what makes your family special (and be honest).
Next build your wish list into the description of what you are looking for in a nanny. Be clear and upfront about your priorities. If you want to hire a nanny who takes your kids to the park everyday, include loves the outdoors as a descriptor.
Close your ad by listing the benefits you offer, a salary range and how you would like them to apply, by mail or email, etc. Ask all candidates to include a resume AND a cover letter to allow you to assess their English language skills.
Hiring a Nanny Tip #3: Create a short list of potential nannies that match your wish list
Chances are you will receive a lot of resumes (good ads tend to do that). Compare your list of must-have’s to both the experience and attitude of the nanny candidates. Create a short list to invite for interviews, making note of any red flags such as gaps in employment history or anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Hiring a Nanny Tip #4: Prepare for interviews with values-based questions
Create a standard set of behavioral interview questions that reflect your family values and priority list, leaving space to take notes. A standard list will better enable you to compare nanny to nanny, but also include specific questions based on their resume or anything that popped up as a red flag.
Behavioral interviews include open-ended questions that allow candidates to describe their experience or demonstrate their problem-solving abilities. Ask questions like “Share with us your philosophy of play”, “How do you discipline a child who is misbehaving?” or “What would you do in an emergency?”
Hiring a Nanny Tip #5: Conduct dual interviews with yourself and then the child
Interview all the nanny candidates separately from your child to avoid the distraction of trying to deal with a bored or fussy child. Watch for candidates who waffle on their answers or give non-answers.
For example, if a nanny candidate answers the question on their discipline style with something like “I would do whatever the parents want me to do”, consider it a red flag. The candidate is only telling you what you want to hear and in heightened situations, they will go back to their methodology so you want to know if that includes spanking or hitting if that is not your preference.
Create a short list of your short list and introduce them to your child. Watch how the nanny interacts with your child and more importantly, how your child responds to the nanny. Does your child connect with the nanny? Does your child feel comfortable with the nanny?
Hiring a Nanny Tip #6: Check background and call employment references
Do a background check and call both the references provided and past employers, if you can find their contact information. If your nanny is unwilling to have you contact past employers, consider it a red flag. Do not, however, contact the nanny’s current employer as that may result in a bidding war or the nanny being fired from her current position.
Hiring a Nanny Tip #7: Make an offer and write a contract
Now you are ready to make an offer! Write up a contract that includes details such as specific expectations, hours of work, what happens if the nanny is late, what happens if you are late and so on.
Even though most jurisdictions have a standard 3-month probationary period, it’s best to include that in the contract with a termination clause that enables you to let the nanny go without cause or without fault within that 3-month period.
Remember, the key to hiring a nanny is being clear and upfront with what you are looking for and using that to both attract and assess potential candidates.