Preparing for the Interview

Once you’ve applied for a nanny position or the family has contacted you about potential nanny employment, you can expect the interview process to begin.

During each interview, you’ll want to have a notebook handy so you can notate the family’s care needs, what the job duties and responsibilities are, and any family details, like the ages of the children and where the family lives. You can also write down any questions you have about the position so you don’t forget to task them. Writing this information down will help you to keep the families and their details straight when it comes time to scheduling follow up appointments and considering any presented job offers.

Phone Interview

Most parents will start the interview process off with a phone interview. During the phone interview you can expect to learn a little more about the family and their childcare needs. You’ll also be expected to share a bit about yourself, your childcare experience, your qualifications and why you enjoy working as a nanny.

The first phone interview may last 30 minutes to an hour. The general goal of this interview is to uncover if the family and nanny are compatible enough to work together.

Be prepared to answer a variety of questions, including questions like “How did you become interested in working as a nanny?” “How long have you been caring for children?” What ages children have you worked with?” and “Do you have references I can contact?”

Many parents won’t know what to ask during the interview, so if there is silence on the line, you may wish to ask open ended questions like “Can you tell me about the things your children enjoy doing?” or “Would you like me to share a little about how my experience may benefit your family?”

Showing interest in the family’s needs, the children’s interests and why you think you can meet their needs can help to convey your interest in the position. Qualified candidates who are pleasant to speak with and seem genuinely interested in working with children and with the family will likely get a call back for a face-to-face interview.

Face-to-Face Interview

The face-to-face interview gives you an opportunity to learn in more detail, what the parents are seeking in a nanny and gives them an opportunity to dig deeper into your experiences, educational background, qualifications and caregiving style.

Holding the first face-to-face interview in a public location, like a coffee shop, is a good policy. When you are meeting in public in a neutral location, both parties will tend to feel safer and be better able to focus on the interview. If the parent or parents can attend without the children, it allows them to conduct the interview without distractions.

While it’s not necessary to wear a suit to this interview, you’ll want to look neat and put together. Avoid wearing tons of makeup and heavy perfume. Opt for nice jeans and a blouse or top.

During the face-to-face interview, be prepared to answer questions about your experience, caregiving style, discipline approach, previous employment arrangements and the things you like most and least about being a nanny. Be sure to answer questions honestly and remember to always speak in a respectful manner of previous employers.

Now is time to ask more detailed questions about the duties and responsibilities the parents expect their nanny to take on. You’ll want to ask about the family’s lifestyle, parenting preferences, discipline style and any house rules that may apply to you.

While it can be tempting to ask about salary and benefits, let the parents bring up the topic first. Nannies who bring up salary and benefits first are often viewed as only interested in a paycheck, even when that is not the case.

In-Home Interview

During the in-home interview, you’ll be invited to the family’s home to meet the children and any other members of the family.

For this interview be sure to dress appropriately. Wear modest attire and avoid wearing perfume and tons of makeup and jewelry. A pair of pressed, dark jeans and a casual top with flats or sneakers are fine. You’ll want to be prepared to sit on the floor with the children and engage them.

The in-home interview gives parents an opportunity to observe how you interact with the children and to gauge how comfortable they are with you in their home environment. It also gives you an opportunity to gauge your comfort level with the family and their home.

While it’s always nice to compliment the family on having a lovely home, avoid showing too much enthusiasm about your potential workplace. Comments like “Wow, look at the size of that television” are inappropriate to make. Be sure to show interest in the children and get down to their level. Be prepared to ask them about their favorite things and expect them to be eager to give you a tour of the home.

Working Interview

If you’ve made it to this point in the interview process, you’re likely the top pick on the parents hiring list. The working interview gives parents and nannies the opportunity to confirm their suspicions that they are a good employment match.

The working interview gives you an opportunity to gauge how you feel about working with the family. During the working interview you get the opportunity to spend some time with the family and confirm that working with them is a good employment fit.

Working interviews last between one and three days. During the working interview, you should be paid your normal rate for hours worked.

10 Tips for Having a Great Interview

Now that you’ve landed the interview, it is up to you to use it to help score you the job. Prepare for your upcoming nanny interview my following these interview tips.

  1. Be Prompt. Be sure to give yourself enough time to arrive to the interview on time. Map out the route and even do a test drive before.
  2. Dress Appropriately. Pressed jeans and a casual top with flats are appropriate dress for the nanny interview. Dress comfortably so you can get on the floor and interact with the kids.
  3. Act Professional. Present yourself as a professional. Don’t chew gum during the interview, keep your language clean and shut your phone off before heading into the interview.
  4. Make Eye Contact. Look your interviewer in the eye when answering questions. Engage in active listening to show you are paying attention.
  5. Show Interest in the Children. Interact in an age-appropriate way with the children. Be ready to offer to read a story or play a game.
  6. Answer Questions Honestly. Resist the urge to exaggerate or stretch the truth. Be honest when all answers.
  7. Ask Questions. Don’t be afraid to ask job related questions too. Questions regarding expectations, family routines and house rules are appropriate to ask about.
  8. Bring a Resume. Bring a one page resume outlining your work experience, skill set, education and qualifications.
  9. Have References Ready. Have a separate sheet of references the parents can contact. Be sure to check with the references before providing their contact information and give them the heads up they may get a call.
  10. Send a Thank You Note. Always send an email or handwritten thank you note, thanking the parents for their time and the opportunity to meet their family.

Even the most experienced nanny can find interviewing stressful. This is especially true if she doesn’t like to be the center of attention. Remember, try to relax and be yourself. Doing so has got you this far already.