10 Things a Nanny Needs to Ask

Wahoo you got the interview! You get in front of the parents and talk all about yourself, your experience, what you’re looking for; heck, you might even get out the pictures of your past families! Then it gets awkward when the family asks, “do you have any questions for us?” Gulp. You think to yourself… then answer, “nope!” WRONG! You have to ask questions during an interview. Even if feel you understand the position entirely, you need to ask questions!

Here’s a few reasons why you need to be asking a potential employer questions.

  1. You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Remember, you’re going to be the one working with the family. Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you feel like you have a good sense of what the family is like? Have confidence and remember, it has to be an equally good fit for everyone.
  2. Show them you’re interested in the job. Often my clients tell me the candidates answered the questions fine, but weren’t engaged enough. By this they mean, they want you to be active in the interview as well. Repeat thing you heard the say, or even better ask questions about specifics they mentioned. For example: “What school does George go to? Do you like that school, I’m not familiar with that particular school?”
  3. Walk away, knowing everything you can about the job. This way you have no surprises and you can make a fully informed decision.

Preparing a list of questions is important. In result, you will show up to the interview organized and showing the family you’ve done your homework. Read the job description over and over again. Highlight things that interest you and write down questions you might have about a specific item in the description. Here are the top 10 questions I would suggest asking:

  1. What are you looking for in the perfect nanny? No secrets here; you’re going to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.
  2. What are some deal breakers for you? The family might giggle at this one, but it’s important to ask. Several years ago, I had a family call me saying they wanted to terminate the contract with their nanny. When we got into more specifics she informed me it’s because the nanny was too loving. She was hoping for a more professional, clock-in-clock-out type of nanny. Although this is rare, I do know this is important to some families. I couldn’t help but think, if the nanny would have asked about deal breakers in the beginning, maybe she would have understood what they are looking for. Other deal breakers I hear often: too personal or chatty about their personal life, too much perfume, too talkative in the mornings (this might or might not have been a complaint I heard from my very own husband).
  3. How would you describe your parenting style? (If they haven’t already answered this question.) Is the style or philosophy something you’re comfortable with?Perhaps you’re not familiar with this style, ask them to explain it more or recommend a few books you could read.
  4. Does your child have any special needs, dietary, allergies, etc.? Allergies are important and you should make it a habit to ask every parent. But go into details a little more. Maybe baby is breastfeeding- ask Mom how you can support her breastfeeding goals, or what new foods their 12-month-old has tried. Is there any family history of allergies/sensitivities you should be made aware of?
  5. What is a typical day look like? Do you feel the family’s expectations are realistic? Could you picture yourself having a day such as they described?
  6. What are your expectations regarding household or pet responsibilities? This is one of the most popular categories that seems to get lost in translation. You need to speak up; if you’re not comfortable with specific things, or maybe you just don’t know how (IE ironing, laundry, meal prep etc.), now is the time to say it!
  7. Can you tell me about your likes and dislikes with your previous nanny? Are they bashing their old nanny (red flag); do they miss them terribly and offer to give you the nanny’s number for a reference (two thumbs up!)?
  8. How can I help? Can you be specific in regards to how I can be helpful during this transition or is there anything I can do on a daily/weekly basis to ensure you’re satisfied? Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I can almost guarantee you’ll get the job with this question. ‘Nuff said.
  9. If you’re comfortable with it, can you tell me about your family; lifestyle, traits, morals, values, anything you’re willing to share. Case and point- last year, we had a client that worked for the republican party. Their nanny was on the complete other side. The nanny saw a yard sign and was flabbergasted they worked for someone with the complete opposite believes as them. Morally, the nanny was conflicted. She later told me, if she knew that in advance and to the extent of it, she would not have accepted the job.   
  10. Do you have other interviews you’re conducting? Do you have an idea of when you’ll have an answer by? You might feel uncomfortable asking this but it’s ok. It’s helpful for you to know if you need to keep your options open and also if you’re interviewing with multiple families, you too can give them a respectful answer or an idea when you’ll make a decision.

Remember, to have a positive and successful relationship, communication is key. There should be no secrets; you and the family need to be comfortable asking questions and addressing concerns. By having great commination during an interview, you’re not only going to make a great impression, but you’re guaranteed to have the info you need to accept the job that is the best fit for you!