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Obviously, depending on what your specific needs and concerns are, you'll need to tailor your questions to that situation.

But, in my experience interviewing candidates for different types of jobs, I've learned there are a number of questions that are much more effective in assessing candidates for a given role:

  • For any job requiring initiative, I ask the candidate to tell me about something they get passionate about outside of work. (If you can't get passionate about something you love at home, you won't likely muster it at work).
  • For any job requiring self-organization, I ask candidates for examples of things they've done in the past to stay organized.
  • If I care about how much someone will prepare for a given work situation, I ask them their strengths and weaknesses (which are crap ways to learn someone's strengths and weaknesses, but anyone without a well-thought out answer has done roughly nothing to prepare for typical interview questions).
  • When you're considering a surgeon to work on you, the key question is generally believed to be "how many times have you done this specific procedure?"

Etc.

What are the key questions that one should ask a nanny or full-time babysitter?

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1 Answer 1

A few years ago, we interviewed for a nanny for our (then) 2 yo. We read probably 100 resumes and interviewed a couple of dozen. Firstly, my observations:

  • Most that we saw were young women either in uni or just left. They see it as a temporary position until they get another job.
  • Many had only had baby sitting experience before.
  • Few were interested in food prep or light housework
  • I do not think any were particularly useful in terms of education of our child.
  • Some did not like the parents being around
  • Some did not have a car, so going to playgroup is difficult
  • One that we hired had no idea how to play with a child

First, work out what you the nanny's responsibilities are going to be, for example (all or some of the following):

  • childcare
  • taking your child to playgroups, etc.
  • food prep for the child
  • food prep for the family
  • cleaning up the child's mess
  • cleaning up the family mess
  • dealing with siblings, such as school drop-off/pick-up

So your questions should be based around what you want the nanny to do, their experience with a child of the appropriate age. Dealing with babies is very different to dealing with a 3 year old.

The interview will be more of a conversation than a check list. It is handy to have the child there at the time to see how the nanny interacts with the kid. In the end, most of it comes down to your comfort level with the person. We have a couple of great nannies - one of a 30+ yo mother whose kids were at school and one was a 18 yo uni student.

Also, in Australia a nanny should have a "Working With Children" check - it is a government issued card stating the person has passed a basic police check.

We had some bad experiences, listed here.

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I like your comment and have been lucky in that I work from home so a nanny has not been a necessity. Had it been, though, I am sure that I would want a "test run" -- an opportunity to watch the nanny interact with my child when neither thought I was around (as a tech person, I'd hook up a camera to watch). Much better to have such a test and see how things initially go than to know it went bad from the beginning. –  Jeremy Miller Mar 12 at 0:05

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