Raising Kids

questions to ask a nanny
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15 Questions To Ask A Nanny You’re Interviewing

You want to feel confident about your decision.

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After going through all of the applications, you’ve finally come up with a list of potential nannies for the nanny position that you’re pleased with. But before you pick up the phone to start scheduling interviews, you’re going to need to have a game plan. And that starts with having a list of the best questions to ask when interviewing a nanny, because this is definitely one interview that you don’t want to wing your way through.

Questions to avoid

Although you might want to keep the conversation casual between you and your prospective nanny, there are some lines that you can’t cross during the interview. “It is inappropriate to ask a nanny's age, race, gender, or marital status,” Ryan Jordan, founder of Educated Nannies, tells Romper. So while you might want to know absolutely everything about the person who is going to be in charge of your child, the questions you ask a nanny can’t be too personal.

Safety concerns

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t vet your potential employee with a plethora of questions, or even a background check, though. “I advise folks to purchase a background search (even if the agency does one), call their CPS agency or equivalent, check references, and request certificates of completion for any training the prospective nanny says they have or you'll require before they start,” Joseph Hoelscher, a managing attorney and child welfare lawyer at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC, tells Romper. “These questions are a starting point for understanding who your candidate is and for them to clearly understand your expectations.”

So if you’re planning on hiring a caregiver, these questions to ask when interviewing a nanny can help you figure out if they’d be the right person to care for your kiddos.


“How long have you been a nanny?”

Of all the questions to ask a nanny, this one is at the tippy top of the list. It’s important to know how long your potential nanny has been caring for kids. After all, if they’re inexperienced, it might raise some cause for concern. “Some nannies are doing the job while they’re in grad school or while they’re waiting until their next great thing comes along,” Laura Schroeder, President of the International Nanny Association tells Romper. “But for others, it’s their career.” Ideally, you want an employee who has had some experience in the role, so that they’ll know what’s expected of them.


“How do you spend your time while a child is napping?”

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Depending on the duties of their position, a nanny might be responsible for meal prep or be on laundry detail. Ask them what they would do when your little one naps — maybe that would be the time they would take a much-needed break, or wash some dishes. “Having a contract can iron out what you expect the nanny to do while your child is napping,” says Schroeder, who explains that because nannies can work up to 12 hours daily, they might take a child’s naptime to rest as well. “Instead of asking a potential nanny what they would do, you can also let them know what you would like to have done.”


“What is your favorite age of a child to care for and why?”

In theory, your nanny should be able to take care of all your children easily and equally. That said, sometimes a nanny has a sweet spot for a certain age group. So if your prospective nanny prefers tweens to toddlers, that’s something you should know, advises Jordan.


“Why are you leaving your current position or no longer working there?”

Knowing why a nanny left their job is important, since it allows you to gain some insight into her previous position. For example, if they and their former boss clashed on discipline styles, for example, that’s something you definitely should know about. The reason that they’re looking for a new job might be something as simple as the family moving, or that the kids are outgrowing the need for a nanny.


“What are your top three strengths in regards to being a nanny?”

Maybe it’s their ability to get your 2-year-old down for a nap. Or it might be their miraculous way of getting your kiddo to eat her green beans. Ask your potential nanny what their top abilities are when it comes to kid care — you might be happily surprised at what you hear.


“What are some child developmental activities you partake in with the child?”

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Ideally, you want to hire a nanny who is going to actively participate in playing with your child (and not, you know, stick him in front of a TV). Find out what activities your nanny feels comfortable doing with your kid; it might be helping her to practice writing her ABC’s, or maybe learn her colors.


“What is your style of discipline?”

At some point or another, your child is bound to be naughty while in the care of the nanny. As such, it’s going to be up to your nanny to discipline your kiddo. It might mean putting him in time-out, but no matter what it is, it should be something that you and your nanny are both completely in sync about. “More often than not, your nanny will follow the family’s method of discipline,” says Schroeder. You can also ask, “What kind of discipline do you prefer?” since nannies should know various types of styles.


“Are we able to speak with at least three recent professional nanny references?”

Asking for references is an absolute must when it comes to interviewing nannies, so be sure to get a few so that you can vet your potential employee. “Nannies should provide references from former families,” explains Schroeder. “You don’t want references from friends or the person’s pastor.” You’ll learn how they interacted with the kids in their care and be able to make a more informed hiring decision after speaking with their references.


“Are you trained in CPR for kids, first aid, and basic child safety?”

You might assume the childcare provider is fluent in basic child safety (how to check if a bottle is too hot, bath water is safe, how to use child safety devices such as car seats, baby gates, etc.), but that might not be the case depending on their experience. If they don’t already have firsthand knowledge, then you’ll need to be prepared to explain things to them.

Having a CPR-trained nanny can offer you peace of mind for those horrible “what if” scenarios, like if your kid starts choking on a grape. It’s also a good idea to know if your nanny has ever been in a situation like that before, and more importantly, how they reacted to it. You want someone to remain calm — and not freak out — so that they can care for your child safely and effectively. And since nannies need to get recertified in CPR and first aid training every two years, you might have to pay for it if you were to hire a candidate who needs to update their certifications.


“Do you know how to cook?”

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While your nanny doesn’t have to be the winner of Chopped, they should have some basic culinary skills to ensure they are putting together balanced meals for your child. Have a conversation to express how you prefer meals to be prepared.


“Are you a licensed driver? How’s your driving record? Do you have insurance?”

Safety is one of those big questions to ask when interviewing a nanny. Whether it’s chauffeuring your kids to soccer practice or play rehearsal, chances are you’re going to need a nanny who knows how to drive — and well.. But since you’re putting your precious cargo in their car, you want to make sure that your nanny knows how to drive well. Find out how long they’ve been driving and the status of their driving record, too. “Always run a driving check,” advises Schroeder. “Even if your nanny won’t be driving right away.”


“Do you plan on socializing while you're working?”

This might not seem like something you'd have to worry about, but it's not uncommon for full-time nannies to wheel the stroller into a Starbucks on the way home from playgroup to meet up with a friend for a few. You might do the same, but are you comfortable with your nanny socializing while they’re on the clock? Another thing to consider: Would you be okay with your nanny having someone over to your home when you're not there? If not, make your feelings clear ahead of time.


“What degree of housecleaning or laundry do you see as part of your duties?”

Sometimes, cleaning just comes with the job when you’re a nanny. But while tidying up after your toddler is one thing, your prospective employee may (or may not) want to do a deep cleaning on the baseboards in your home. Inquire during the interview if they’re willing to clean as part of their nanny duties, and if so, how much. (Unless, of course, you don't need your nanny to clean beyond putting the dirty baby food bowls in the sink.)


“Are you willing to travel with the family?”

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Having a nanny on hand to help during family vacations can definitely feel like a luxury — for the family, that is. But your nanny is still going to be working, even if you’re on the beach somewhere in Bora Bora. Ask them how they’d feel about potentially going away on a family vacay (either a local overnight getaway or an international trip) and if they’re legally allowed to travel outside of the country. It might not be a deal-breaker question, but it’s still something good to know.


“Do you have any food allergies or intolerances?”

This question is important to ask because if your prospective nanny has a severe food allergy, it could have an impact on your entire family. “Having a nanny with a food allergy might require you to change the foods you keep in your household,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian nutritionist. For example, if your children love their PB&J’s (and your nanny has a nut allergy), you’ll need to make sure that the offending food isn’t around. So be sure to ask about allergies during the interview so that everyone stays safe and healthy. “It’s worth talking about eating or bringing their own food and eat in the house,” says Schroeder. “Because we’re trying to teach manners, nannies will often eat their food with the family, so understanding about allergies is important.”


“Are you comfortable with cameras in the house?”

Sure, you vetted the nanny, and you feel like you picked a great fit for your family. Still, you might want to keep an eye on your kiddo (and the nanny), especially when you’re going to be away. “Most nannies don’t mind cameras as long as they’re disclosed ahead of time,” says Schroeder. “But you should ask how someone would feel about them so that you’re both on the same page.”


“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

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Although you can’t really ask if your nanny is planning to get pregnant sometime soon, there is a way around that q. For example, if your candidate says that they see themselves having a child within that time period (and you’re hoping that they’ll be working with you for a long time), you’ll know that they might not be planning to stay for the long-term. “It helps you understand what their game plan is, and if they’re looking for a job or a career,” says Schroeder.


“What was your favorite experience as a nanny so far?”

This question can tell you so much about your potential new hire. For starters, by hearing what they love most about being a nanny, you’ll know what matters most to them, whether it’s a strong connection to a child, or a job where parents work outside the home (and the nanny has more autonomy). It can also alert you to any potential red flags you might face if you were to hire that person.


“What would a typical day as a nanny be like for you?”

Some nannies like to play in the park, while others prefer to cuddle and read books. “Have the nanny tell you what they would do and see if it matches up with the things you’d like them to do,” advises Schroeder. That way, everyone’s expectations are being met and both you and the nanny are in sync.


“What is your comfort level with parents working from home?”

With so many more parents working remotely lately, nannies are now finding themselves balancing being with the kids — and the parents working in the next room, too. “You should find out if the nanny would prefer to be left alone, or if they wouldn’t mind the interruption so that you can have time to play with your kids between meetings,” advises Schroeder.

You can’t ask too many questions when you’re deciding who will be in charge of taking care of your child. Although you can glean a lot of insight into the character and skill set of a person when you figure out the questions to ask a nanny, ultimately you should go with your gut to help you decide who the right person is to care for your child.


Laura Schroeder, President of the International Nanny Association

Ryan Jordan, founder of Educated Nannies

Joseph Hoelscher, a managing attorney and child welfare lawyer at Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC

Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of "Read It Before You Eat It - Taking You from Label to Table"

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