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Baby in HatFor Families: Interview Questions

You can get the most out of an interview with a nanny candidate if you are prepared. Below are questions you can ask and discussion topics to prepare. The interview process can consist of several steps and layers. This should serve as an information-gathering guide including the most general to the most detailed. Be sure to jot notes as you interview. It helps when you go back to decide what you had covered with which candidate!

During the interview, cover the following information:

Names of children, birth date, others in house full or part time that nanny is not responsible for and their relationship to the parents and the children.

Child Care Experience, Ideas and Philosophies

  • Tell me about your childcare experiences.
  • Talk about your method of:

(Start with your aged children as the benchmark and then ask about how that would evolve as children get older)

Setting limits
Teaching children manners
Stimulating intellectual curiosity
Handling a cranky child
Teaching healthy eating habits
Encouraging healthy personal hygiene
Creating social situations
Settling a disagreement among children

  • Tell me about your discipline philosophies.
  • What are your favorite things to do with children my children’s ages?
  • What are your thoughts about scheduling outside the home classes and activities for children?
  • Do you like to set your own schedule for the day or follow a pre-arranged schedule?
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Work Experience

  • What do you feel were some of your most important accomplishments in your job as a nanny/childcare provider?
  • How do you think your present/past employer would describe you?
  • How would you describe your present/past employer? What do you consider to have been his/her major strengths and weaknesses?
  • Brother and Sister
  • What are some of the things you particularly like about your job as nanny/caregiver?
  • What did you enjoy less?
  • Tell me about some of your achievements that have been recognized by your employers.
  • Will you describe your present duties and responsibilities?
  • What are some of the reasons for considering other employment at this time?
  • What do you like least about the job description?
  • Tell me about the problems you face in getting all the facets of your job completed on time.
  • How does your employer get the best out of you?
  • What were some of the setbacks and disappointments you experienced?
  • Why are you pursuing a career as a nanny?
  • Tell me about your training. What have you done to improve yourself professionally?
  • How do you organize yourself for day-to-day activities?
  • What is the biggest mistake you made in your career?
  • Tell me about the last time you really got angry about an employer’s decision.
  • What have you been most criticized for as an employee?
  • What do you do when there is a decision to be made and no procedure exists?
  • Tell me about a time when someone lost his or her temper at you in a work environment.
  • Tell me about something you started and could not finish.
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Job Knowledge

  • When you consider your skills as a professional nanny, what concerns you most about your ability to care for children?
  • Explain your understanding of this job's responsibilities.
  • If you were hiring someone for this position, what would you be looking for?

Things to look for:

Relevant experience
Skill and competence
Interpersonal relations
Growth and development
Accuracy of knowledge
Realistic job expectations

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  • Could you tell me about your education at (school)?
  • Why did you choose (subject) as an area of study?
  • What subjects did you enjoy most? Why?
  • What subjects did you find less enjoyable? Why?
  • Tell me about any additional training or education you have had since you graduated from (school/university)?
  • What are your plans for further education?

Things to look for:

Relevance of schooling
Sufficiency of schooling
Motivation, interest

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Personal Factors and Outside Activities

  • What disappointments, setbacks or failures have you had in your life?
  • I noticed you are involved in _____. Would you tell me about that?
  • How do you like to spend your vacations?
  • If you had more spare time, are there any activities you'd like to participate in? Why?
  • What do you consider to be a good day's effort?
  • What special characteristics should I consider about you as a person?
  • How often do you find it necessary to go above and beyond the call of duty?
  • When do children really try your patience?
  • What do you feel are your personal limitations?
  • What situations make you feel awkward?
  • What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you to make?
  • How do you deal with disagreements with others?
  • What are some of the things that are important to you in a job?
  • What would you say there is about this job you're applying for that is particularly appealing to you?
  • What are some of the things that might not be so desirable?
  • What kinds of situations make you feel tense or nervous?
  • What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
  • How necessary is it to be creative in your job?
  • What kinds of rewards are most satisfying to you?

Things to look for:

Maturity and growth
Cultural breadth
Diversity of interests
Social interests
Social skills
Basic values and goals
Situational factors

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Household Rules and Miscellaneous Topics to Discuss
(Some of these topics are only pertaining to live-in nannies)

Child Care-- Review these topics:

  • Any special needs of the children
  • Children's sleep habits.
  • Children's eating habits.
  • Children's emotional habits.
  • How to handle tantrums.
  • Specific instructions on planning activities.
  • Music, television, video rules for children.
  • How to handle crying or whining.

Duties and Responsibilities: Review all that apply:

  • Transport children
  • Tidy kitchen and play room or family room
  • Grocery shopping
  • Children's laundry
  • Dust, vacuum children's rooms and bathroom
  • Errand running
  • Iron children's clothes
  • Accompany family on outings
  • Empty dishwasher
  • Change children's bed linens
  • Travel with family, how often and where
  • Children's meals and clean up
  • Care of pets. Be specific
  • Other duties
Discuss other household help and how often they are in the home.
  • Nannies work 5 days on with two consecutive days off per week-discuss the days and times.
  • Describe any variations, exceptions or flexibilities needed. It is important to be specific.
Car Usage
  • If the Nanny will transport children in a car, does the family or nanny supply the car? (We strongly recommend that the employer supply the car for job related duties.)
  • If supplied by family, any limitations on or off (for live-in) duty?
  • If nanny supplies car, what will be the compensation for her to use her car to carry out her duties?
    How and when will that be paid?
  • If nanny has an accident during job related usage, who pays the deductible on the insurance and what is that amount? If nanny has accident with family's car during leisure time, who pays the deductible and what is that amount? (For live-in)
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Employer/employee topics for discussion

These are suggested topics. Talk about when, during the course of a nanny's employment, you would be discussing them.

Children's activities
Children's growth and development
Nanny's job performance
Family/Nanny relationship
Job structure
Salary review
Contract review (usually 30 days and 90 to 180 days later)

  • Agreement concerning social/family visitors for the Nanny in the family’s home.
  • Airfare arrangements (where applicable)
  • Phone greeting
  • Do you want the nanny to address you by your first name or family name?
  • Household areas off limits to nanny and children
  • Dangerous areas in house/garage/basement/yard
  • Has home been childproofed? ________ If no, do you expect nanny to do it?
  • Procedure to follow if locked out of house
  • Will nanny receive a set of house keys?
  • Will nanny need to set house alarm?
  • Location of smoke detectors: ___________________ Location of Fire extinguisher:
  • Television and music rules for nanny:
  • Artwork allowed on walls of room
  • Rearrangement of furniture in Nanny's quarters.
  • Nanny’s quarters are private, who should enter Nanny’s quarters and when unless invited or in case of an emergency
  • Special food items that the nanny may not consume or bring into the home
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Compensation Package

  • Gross salary will be (weekly)
  • Overtime pay (hours worked beyond schedule), how much and when is it paid
  • Day of week to be paid
  • Number of paid sick days
  • Number of paid vacation days
  • Number of paid holidays and which ones
  • Number of unpaid sick days
  • Number of unpaid vacation days
  • Number of unpaid holidays and which ones
  • Health benefits
  • Start Date
  • Car availability off duty
  • Vacation is usually taken while family is taking their vacation. How will vacation time be determined?
  • Approximate vacation dates: How is it handled if family takes more vacation time than nanny receives? (Typically for full time, she still receives salary)
  • If nanny travels with family, how will hours and duties change?
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Telephone Usage

  • Will there be a private telephone line for the nanny in her room?
  • Who pays for the telephone bill on the private line?
  • How are the long distance calls handled, are they deducted from the nanny's paycheck or does she pay directly
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  • Is the nanny expected to bring/buy her own meals or does the family provide for this?
  • Is the nanny expected to bring her own supplies or does the family provide for this?
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