15 Best Questions To Ask A Nanny, Because You Want To Be Prepared
After going through all of the applications, you’ve finally come up with a list of applicants 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 a nanny, because this is definitely one interview that you don’t want to wing your way through.
And while 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, you’re going to have to refrain from asking the personal q’s.
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.”
1. “How long have you been a nanny?”
It’s important to know how long your potential nanny has been caring for kids. After all, if she’s inexperienced, it might raise some cause for concern. Ideally, you want an employee who has had some experience in the role, so that she’ll know what is expected of her.
2. “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.
3. “How do you spend your time while a child is napping?”
Depending on the duties of her position, a nanny might be responsible for meal prep or be on laundry detail. Ask her what she would do when your little one naps — maybe that would be the time she would take a much-needed break, or wash some dishes.
4. “Why are you leaving your current position or no longer working there?”
Knowing why a nanny left her job is important, since it allows you to gain some insight into her previous position. For example, if she and her former boss clashed on discipline styles, for example, that’s something you definitely should know about. The reason that she’s looking for a new job might be something as simple as the family moving, or that the kids outgrowing the need for a nanny.
5. “What are your top three strengths in regards to being a nanny?”
Maybe it’s her ability to get your 2-year-old down for a nap. Or it might be her miraculous way of getting your kiddo to eat her green beans. Ask your potential nanny what her top abilities are when it comes to kid care — you might be happily surprised at what you hear.
6. “What are some child developmental activities you partake in with the child?”
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.
7. “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.
8. “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. You’ll learn how she interacted with the kids in her care, and be able to make a more informed hiring decision after speaking with her references.
9. “Are you trained in CPR for kids, first aid, and 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.)?”
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 she reacted to it. You want someone to remain calm — and not freak out — so that she can care for your child safely and effectively.
10. “Are you a licensed driver? How’s your driving record? Do you have insurance?”
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. But since you’re putting your precious cargo in her car, you want to make sure that your nanny knows how to drive well. Find out how long she’s been driving and the status of her driving record, too.
11. “Do you know how to cook?”
While your nanny doesn’t have to be the winner of Chopped, she should have some basic culinary skills. “It’s important that your nanny can put together simple meals for your kids, especially if you and your spouse has late working hours,” Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, tells Romper. And to ensure that your children are heating somewhat healthy (and the nanny isn’t nuking every meal for them), have a conversation to express how you prefer meals to be prepared.
12. “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 she's 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.
13. “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 she's willing to clean as part of her 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.)
14. “Are you willing to travel with the family, assuming we cover all expenses and give you time off during the vacation? Does this include foreign travel?”
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 her how she’d feel about potentially going away on a family vacay, and if she’s legally allowed to travel outside of the country. It might not be a deal-breaker question, but it’s still something good to know.
15. “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 Taub-Dix. 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.
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"
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.