This article is not about how to interview or market yourself to a potential nanny family. Instead, it is about how a nanny should interview a family to find out about potential employers. This is one of the most important things a nanny needs to do before accepting ANY nanny position. The interview for a nanny job goes both ways — while the family is interviewing and vetting the nanny, the nanny is interviewing and vetting the family at the same time. In addition to asking the parents basic questions about job expectations, compensation, or parenting style, a nanny NEEDS to inquire about the family's history with nannies. Are they good employers? Do they appreciate and respect their nannies? Are they reliable? Do they pay on time? Do they have unreasonable expectations? Are they micromanagers? Do they expect their nanny to clean up after their own messes? And most importantly, would their previous nannies recommend them and work for them again? Of course no family will admit to being bad employers, so the only way to get honest answers is to speak directly with previous nannies. Why is it standard for families to ask why nannies left their previous position and to check the nannies’ references, but not the other way around? A nanny-family relationship goes both ways and in order for it to be a good match, both the nanny and the family must know exactly what they are entering into. References are incredibly important when hiring a nanny, and if a nanny has a bad reference, it pretty much guarantees they won’t get the job, yet most nannies do not think to check up on the family in the same manner. I believe that as nannies, we need to interview parents just as much as they interview us.
HERE ARE 3 QUESTIONS EVERY NANNY NEEDS TO ASK AT AN INTERVIEW:
- How many nannies have you had?
- Why are you looking for a new nanny/why did your nanny quit?
- May I contact your former nannies as reference?
Since nannies don't have a union/association to ensure proper employment across the board, it's important for nannies to advocate for themselves and do as much research as possible before accepting a position. Just like some "not so great" nannies can interview well and charm parents, some parents can interview well and charm nannies, when in reality they take advantage of their nannies. Even if the family seems perfect and you know you definitely want the job -- please ask these 3 questions just to be sure. It will save you so much frustration and heartache down the road if they do happen to turn out to be "not so great" employers.
Knowing the number of nannies a family has been through is incredibly important. If a family has been through several nannies in a short period of time, it's wise to inquire as to why that is. While not always the case, oftentimes when families can't keep a nanny, it's not the nannies that are the problem, it's the family. In addition to asking why a family has been through so many nannies, make sure to speak with those nannies yourself. I personally have accepted a position where I knew the family had gone through many nannies, but the parents assured me they had a great relationship with all their past nannies and the nannies only left to pursue other professional opportunities. It turned out that wasn't the case. Looking back, I wish that I had not just taken them at their word, as I would have saved myself from being in a situation where I was severely taken advantage of. Obviously this advice only applies to families who have in fact had nannies before. If you are interviewing with a family who has never had a nanny, it's imperative you ask enough questions to ensure the parents know all that goes into hiring and employing a nanny properly.
Some reading this might think it seems odd to ask a family for references, but it only makes sense that a nanny should speak with a family's past nannies before accepting a position. It’s not necessarily about finding out that if family is “less than great” but it is important to get a feel for how they operate as employers to confirm their style will work for you. If you're worried about a family thinking it's strange for you to ask for references, don't be. Parents will only be put off by this request if they know their former nannies won't give them a good reference. A truly good nanny family will love that you are asking these questions because it shows you care enough about yourself and your worth to make an educated decision. It shows your attention to detail and how seriously you take your career. Plus, it shows that you value longevity and are not interested in taking a position that may not work out for the long term. A good family will be more than happy to provide references, in fact, the best families I've worked for have offered references without me even having to ask!
So nannies, let’s raise the bar and change the industry standard — we are the ones who have the power to do so! If all nannies started asking these questions and requiring references from potential families, it would become the norm, as it should be. So next time you’re interviewing, make sure to ask these 3 questions and find a family that is a good fit for you.