Background

  • Why did you become a nanny?
    • Can you tell me more about your childcare experience?
  • What does being a nanny mean to you? 

It could be problematic if the nanny’s preference is a professional relationship with firm boundaries when you are looking for a nanny to become part of the family. It’s important to be on the same page from the beginning. 

  • What are the ages of children you have cared for?
    • What are your favorite ages to care for and why?
  • Are you familiar with my neighborhood? 
    • What are your favorite parks, museums, activities, etc to do with children in my area? If you are comfortable with the nanny driving to other outings in the city, ask what their favorite places to take children are.
  • What are your favorite activities to do with children in our position’s age range?
  • What is your preferred parenting style?
    • Have you ever worked with a family that uses a different parenting style? How did you navigate this? Are there any parenting styles you are uncomfortable implementing?
  • Do you know how to swim?
    • Do you enjoy swimming with children?

Certifications, Training & Education

  • Are you CPR and first-aid certified? 
    • Is your certification current? If not, are you willing to get certified before starting this position?
  • Do you speak any other languages besides English? If so, would you be willing to teach our children?
  • Have you taken any child development classes? 
    • What is your favorite parenting book or blog? 

Experience / Position Requirements

  • Have you ever encountered an emergency while caring for a child?
    • If so, what happened and how did you handle it? If not, what was the most challenging experience you have encountered while caring for a child?
  • Are you comfortable working while I’m around?

It’s important to establish expectations ahead of time. Some parents prefer the nanny take a backseat when they are present, while other parents prefer the nanny remain in charge and fully hands on. If you work from home it’s especially important to outline your expectations and how you’d like specific situations to be handled. For example, decide and communicate in advance how you’d like your nanny to handle a situation where your child knows you are home and cries for you. Would you like the nanny to allow the child to go to your office at any time? Or would you like the nanny to tell the child they will text you and you will come see them when you are available? Or perhaps it’s not okay for you to be disturbed during working hours, period. 

  • How would you make bath time more fun?

Ask the nanny specific questions that address challenges they may face with your children. For example, if your child doesn’t like bath time or isn’t easily willing to eat their veggies. This gives you the opportunity to see how the nanny would address these challenges as well as obtain insight into their problem solving skills.

  • Give specific examples of scenarios and ask how they would handle them. 
    • If my child has a conflict on a playdate, for example, he takes a toy away from another child and the child begins to cry….how would you handle it?
    • What would you do if the baby had been crying for an hour?
    • What would you do if my two year old refused to get dressed?
    • What would you do if my two year old had a tantrum after you put a straw in his juice box? 
    • What would you do if the baby kept pulling your hair?
    • What would you do if the baby put a lego or marble in their mouth?
    • You can ask specific questions to verify they know how to do CPR and basic first aid as well. It’s important to not only have a nanny with experience, but someone who has good instincts and can quickly respond in a crisis.
  • Are you comfortable caring for a sick child?
    • Are you comfortable administering medication?
    • Are you comfortable taking children to doctor’s appointments?

Be sure to include questions about any medical, religious or dietary needs that your family has in this section to verify the candidate’s experience and willingness to accommodate those needs.

Work History / Career Goals

  • Why do you want to leave your current position? Or why did you leave your last position?
  • What was your favorite memory with the child (or children) at your last position?
  • What is your favorite/least favorite part about being a nanny (or favorite/least favorite part of your last position)?
  • Have you ever had conflict with an employer and how did you handle it?

Their answer will show whether or not they take any personal responsibility or if they completely shift the blame onto others. Additionally, you will see how they talk about previous employers and if it’s confidential and respectful.

  • What are your long-term plans?

This is the time to share what you have in mind as well as what the nanny is searching for. If you know you only need a full-time nanny for a specific period of time this is the time to share that. Perhaps you need full-time hours for 2 years and then plan to enroll your child in preschool a few days per week, at which time you will only need a nanny part-time or only for occasional date nights. Or you would like a nanny that’s willing to stay for 10+ years. If the nanny is in college and plans to relocate to their home state upon graduating in a year, now is the time to find that out. 

Character 

  • Has an employer ever asked you to tell a white lie? How did you handle it?

This helps to determine their character. It’s a red flag if they have no issue or reservations about lying.

  • Who is your role model?

This can tell you a lot about a person.

  • What was the last commitment you weren’t able to keep and why?
  • What do you view as your greatest accomplishment and why?

Accomplishments can show you what holds value to them.

Immunizations

  • Have you received the COVID vaccine? If not, are you willing to get it?
  • Do you get the Flu vaccine each year?
  • Are you up to date on other immunizations?


Nanny Interview Questions You CAN’T Ask

While it may be tempting to ask a potential nanny certain questions during an interview, under the law there are questions that are off limits. Per the U.S. Equal Opportunity Opportunity Commission, you can’t legally ask any interview questions about the following:

  • Age.
  • Race.
  • National origin.
  • Religious views.
  • Sex (including sexual orientation or gender identity).
  • Marital status or plans on becoming pregnant.
  • Disability or genetic information.
  • Arrest Record.

The top 5 illegal interview questions that parents mistakenly ask potential nannies are:

  1. “How old are you?” 

You absolutely cannot ask a nanny their age. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against candidates that are age 40 or older. 

Let’s think about why parents want to ask this question for a moment. What are they concerned about? If a family has young children, for example, perhaps the concern is to hire a nanny with lots of energy that can keep up with their children. First of all, age is not necessarily a determining factor for energy. There are plenty of nannies over 40 that run circles around a 20-something nanny, by the way. 

Instead of illegal age-related questions, parents can ask questions that are specific to the needs of their family:

  • Do you like playing outdoors with children?
  • Do you enjoy swimming?
  • What are your favorite activities to do with children?
  1. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Parents generally want to know if a nanny is in a relationship of any kind, whether it’s a boyfriend, marriage, etc as their deeper concern is that the nanny will have other priorities that could potentially disrupt their ability to do their job. Let’s be real here, nannies are people too. They have lives outside of work. Not only is there absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the law protects them from being discriminated against because of it. A professional nanny can balance work and a personal life. 

More appropriate specific need-based questions would be:

  • Are you available to travel?
  • Are you available to work the schedule we’ve discussed?
  • Are you flexible to stay late, if need be?
  1. “Do you plan to have children?”

Parents tend to ask this question as it can be indicative of how long the nanny will be available to work for their family. You can still get the answer to the deeper question without an inquiry that is discriminatory in nature. 

Instead, directly ask the nanny how long they are looking to remain employed with your family, are they interested in a long-term placement, can they commit to the position for at least a year, what are their career goals, etc?

  1. “Are you religious?”

It is not uncommon for parents to need their nanny to assist children in their religious education. Nannies oversee childrens’ daily routines that may consist of prayers, religious readings, etc. A professional nanny will be able to separate their personal religious views from the views of their employer. It is not only irrelevant that a nanny shares the religious views of the family, but it’s illegal to discriminate against a potential nanny based on their religion. 

Instead, focus on need-based questions:

  • Are you willing to read religious scripture to my child before bed?
  • Are you comfortable reminding my child to say their prayers every day?
  1. “Are you a U.S. Citizen?”

It’s perfectly fine to ask a nanny if they are authorized to work in the U.S. However, it’s illegal to base a hiring decision on their citizenship status; therefore, you may not ask them if they are a U.S. Citizen.