Originally posted here on Nanny Magazine.
Don’t ever go into an interview for a nanny job thinking that it is a one-sided interview! You could potentially be working with this new family most days of the week and become quite intertwined with their personal lives. You don’t want to get stuck in a position just to realize a few weeks into the job that you did not interview your new NannyFamily well enough to understand that your current job is not for you. This is their interview as much as your interview, so get comfortable and get ready to ask them some questions too!
1. How would you describe your parenting style?
This might be the most important question you can ask a potential NannyFamily! This question will help you get a better understanding of whether or not you and this family will be a good match. There is so much that can go into an answer for this question, so make sure your ears are open.
Maybe you are looking for a family that puts a high concentration on discipline. You’ll want to hear that these parents are comfortable following through on consequences. Or maybe this family is all about cosleeping and baby wearing, but you have no idea where to begin with any of that! The parents’ answer to this question will help you assess what kind of experience they are looking in their next nanny.
2. Do you plan on adding any other responsibilities besides care for the children? Housekeeping? Pet Care? Personal Assistant?
Some people just assume that a nanny is a jack of all trades. You do not want to start your first day of work only to be surprised that you will also be responsible for the family dog, wiping down the toilets, doing the grocery shopping, and mowing the lawn all while taking care of your charge. Some families just don’t understand what a nanny is really responsible for and assume that because their friend’s nanny will deep clean the house once week that you should be responsible for those kinds of chores too. Speak up now and you will either teach your potential family something new or dodge a bullet all together! And please, nannies, do not fall for any comparisons about what the neighbor’s nanny is or isn’t willing to do. You have your own set of skills and standards and you are a professional. Ask this question with confidence and leave knowing that you stuck to your guns!
3. What kind of relationship do you plan on having with your nanny?
Is this family looking for more of a professional relationship with set boundaries? Is this family looking at you as just the hired help? Do they want to see their nanny as a third parent on their team? Is this family the type of family that you’ll be drinking cocktails with at 5 p.m. on a Wednesday? This question will set the stage for the kind of relationship you should expect from your NannyFamily.
4. Are you comfortable with writing a contract with me?
Find out now if this potential family is up for writing a contract with you. A contract is important because it will spell out all aspects of your job (or at least it should). Paid time off, responsibilities, severance pay, giving notice—these are all things you might feel uncomfortable discussing now, but you might wish you discussed beforehand when the time comes.
Also important: make sure you have a say in this contract. This is your job agreement as well! Not comfortable with the way something is written? Speak now or forever hold your peace!
5. Do you plan on paying me on the books?
You’ll want to find out to this answer right away, and I will list the reasons why:
- Because you’ll really see how serious this NannyFamily is and how well they have done their research on hiring a nanny.
- Because you’ll want to make sure your butt is covered should this position come to a demise and you need to file for unemployment.
- Because it’s the legal thing to do! You and your NannyFamily will have no worries when it comes to the IRS auditing or when tax season swings around. Come to this interview with some nanny tax research under your belt and help them understand why you need to be paid on the books.
Read Nanny Magazine’s January-March 2016 print issue to brush up more on nanny taxes, and check out our July/August 2015 issue for advice on writing your own nanny contract.
6. How do you plan on paying your nanny?
You might have it all set up in your mind that you’ll be getting paid once a week, but surprise, it’s two weeks in and when you ask when you will receive your first pay check, you come to find out that your new NannyFamily will be paying you the lump sum of your wages once a month!
Find out during your interview and you will be able to budget your money accordingly. This is also a good question to lead into the question of pay.
7. Why did your last nanny leave? Would you be comfortable with me speaking to them?
You’ll want to hear a straight answer for this one. Maybe the answer is that their old nanny was just not a good fit. Well, find out why! Within this answer you will find out a little more about your potential NannyFamily. Perhaps their last nanny had a lot of trouble showing up on time or perhaps this family just had some wild expectations that were not met. Whatever the reason may be, it will give you valuable feedback into what you are about to get yourself into and what this family is really looking for.
Many nannies are uncomfortable asking this question for fear that they will offend the family they are interviewing with. But hey, if they can ask you for references, why can’t you ask them for one too?
8. Do you have backup care?
Families forget that their nanny may need time off whether it be for personal time or sick time. Bring this up now and it will get them thinking. Maybe they have a family member in the area, maybe they have a nanny agency they can sign up with, or maybe they will have to take turns taking time off from their own jobs to care for their children while you are out of office for a few days.
9. Are there any benefits or perks with this job?
Some families believe they are the benefit of the job! And maybe that is true, but hey, you are a great nanny and you are shopping around just as much as that NannyFamily is shopping around for a new nanny. But what will set this new NannyFamily apart?
Think job benefits and perks! Some benefits and perks to think about are paid time off, contributions toward a health insurance plan, a phone plan, a gym membership, paid meals, childcare continuing education classes, nanny conventions, and more!
10. What is an average day like for your family?
The answer to this question will give you that glimpse that you need into your potential future. Will you be carting around your charge from activity to activity or will there be a lot of down time you will have to fill with activities that you will need to plan? Asking this question will also allow you to understand the pace in which your NannyFamily lives. Again, this is another great question that will allow you to assess whether or not you and this family are a match.