10 Red Flags to Look for When Interviewing a Nanny

Interviewing a nanny is a tough job. You have so much invested into hiring the right person that a normally stressful task becomes even more intimidating. While there’s not one formula that works for every family, here are some red flags to watch out for as you interview potential caregivers.

  • She’s late. If the nanny is late, there’s a small chance that something completely unexpected happened, like a natural disaster or her car breaking down. However, it’s more likely something that she should have predicted is to blame. Weather, traffic, accidents and most other things are all instances she should have considered when she was figuring out how long it would take for her to get to your house. If she’s unable to predict things that can go wrong for something as important as the interview, that’s not a good sign about how she’ll handle other unexpected situations.
  • She doesn’t have a clear idea of the type of activities to do with kids in your child’s age group. It’s one thing to have age specific experience listed on a resume and a completely different thing to be able to comfortably talk about what that age needs and enjoys. If she doesn’t have a working knowledge of the age she’ll be caring for, chances are your child won’t get what she needs.
  • She doesn’t ask you any real questions. The success of the employment relationship depends on a good two way match. The candidate should ask questions that show she’s really thought about her needs and preferences. If she doesn’t, she’s not effectively screening for the right family match, which will surface later on as problems in the employment relationship occur.
  • She’s more interested in the pay and benefits than in you. The compensation package you’re offering is an important consideration for any candidate. However it shouldn’t be her top priority. She should be more focused on what you need, on the type of family you are and on what you’re looking for in your next nanny.
  • She doesn’t answer situational questions in a way that makes you comfortable. Your interview should always include ‘what would you do if” questions. This gives you a chance to see how a nanny would react in different situations. If her answers lack common sense or don’t take important factors into consideration, you’re not going to have a lot of confidence that she can successfully handle the responsibility of keeping your child safe and happy.
  • She doesn’t have a personality that you connect with. The nanny may be a great caregiver and a wonderful person, but if your personalities don’t mesh well, it won’t be a successful match. It’s hard to reject a nanny that’s the right fit in so many other ways, but remember you have to work with her day after day. Is she the kind of person you’re going to enjoy having a long term relationship with?
  • She’s overly anxious to just get the job. When a nanny wants a job badly, even when it doesn’t really match what she’s looking for, there’s usually some other motivation behind her anxiousness. You want the person you hire to be happy in the job long term. A nanny who’s looking for a quick job fix usually ends up moving on sooner rather than later and the employment relationship is filled with problems from the very beginning.
  • She avoids questions about her past employers. Even if a nanny left a job on bad terms, she should be willing to talk with you about her past employers. It may be uncomfortable for her, but she still should be forthcoming about what happened. If a nanny dismisses or glosses over past problems, that’s a clue that there might be a much more serious problem there. It’s definitely something you want to follow up on before you make a hiring decision.
  • She gives you contradicting information. When a nanny says one thing, then 30 minutes later says something completely contradictory, there’s something amiss. Either she truly doesn’t know her own mind or she’s trying to mislead you. Either way, it’s a sign that what you’re hearing in the interview doesn’t really reflect what she thinks or the way she’d act on the job.
  • She doesn’t engage with your child. Of course she’s there to talk with you, but her days will be spent with your child. If she doesn’t take an active interest in your child or doesn’t try to engage him, it could mean that’s something she struggles with. Since that’s the core of a nanny’s job, it’s a piece of the puzzle you want to pay close attention to.
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