10 Red Flags to Look for When Interviewing for a Nanny Job

Sometimes it’s hard to tell during an interview with a family if they’re the right family for you. The decision to work with a particular family or not is influenced by lots of different factors that are specific to what you’re looking for and what feels right to you. But there are some red flags that almost always indicate the job isn’t one you should take. Here’s a quick peek at what to be on the lookout for.

  • The parents can’t provide you with a clear job description. Before you can decide if a job is right for you or not, you have to know what the job entails. When the parents are unable to provide you with a detailed and well thought out job description, it’s impossible for you to make an educated choice.
  • Your personality doesn’t mesh with the parents’ personalities. Sometimes a job is great in every other way, but you just don’t connect on a personal level with the parents. That’s reason enough to pass on the job completely. Remember, you have to work with the mom and dad day after day. Personality counts.
  • They have a parenting philosophy you don’t agree with. You and the parents don’t have to be mirror images of each other, but it is important that you’re on the same page when it comes to handling discipline and other kid related situations. If you don’t agree with how they’re raising their kids, it will be impossible for you to support them and be successful in the position.
  • They won’t talk about their previous nannies. You don’t want parents to talk disrespectfully about past nannies, but you do want them to be willing to discuss what didn’t work. If they’re unwilling to share those insights with you, there’s a good chance it will be a problem that will carry over into your employment relationship.
  • The household isn’t one you’d be comfortable working in. The family’s home is also your work environment, so it’s something to check out during the interview to make sure you’re a match. If you’re a neat nick and the house is a mess, it could be a hard place for you to work. If you need to have everything put away to feel relaxed and at ease and the family has things strewn all around, chances are the house will be a constant source of stress for you.
  • They have a different idea of what a typical day should look like. Make sure you talk about their expectations for the daily environment you’ll create for their child. If you’re a nanny who loves getting outside, even in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, are they comfortable with that? If you love going to the park, the zoo and the local play space, are they going to allow that? If your vision of a great day is different than the parents’ vision, it’s not the job for you.
  • Their employer style isn’t one you work well with. Every parent has her own style and her own way of managing her nanny. Is the parent you’re interviewing with a micromanager? Does she want regular check-ins with the nanny during the day? Does she think you only need to sit down and have a family meeting if there’s a huge problem? Make sure your style and the parents’ style align.
  • They have unrealistic expectations. Even if you’re an absolutely amazing nanny, there’s only so much you can do. Make sure that the parents recognize the boundaries that come with the job and also your limitations. Even if you want to take it all on and are super nanny, it’s simply not possible.
  • They aren’t paying a competitive wage for what they want. The family may be paying a good wage for your area, but does the wage match the job description? Are they paying for nanny care, but asking for nanny care plus household management and some housekeeping? If you’re not going to be paid fairly for your time, efforts and talent, it’s not the right job for you.
  • You can’t successfully meet the needs of the child. Sometimes all the other factors fall into place, but you just can’t meet the needs of the child. He may have special needs that you simply don’t have the training or experience to effectively deal with. Or he may have a temperament that you have a hard time coping with. When this happens it doesn’t mean he’s a bad child or you’re a bad nanny, it just means it’s not a good fit.
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