by Pat Cascio, Founder and Director of Morningside Nannies, Houston, TX. Former president of the International Nanny Association and APNA’s 2008 Agency of the Year
Professional nannies take workshops on salary, benefits and contract negotiations. They discuss child development theories, how to best handle a colicky baby and how to manage the unmanageable child.
I am not a child care expert but I am an expert nanny interviewer! I have employed nannies and I have been interviewing three to six nannies a day, five days a week, for the past 26 years and I know what impresses me and my client families. So here are some tips based on my life experience.
GETTING PREPARED FOR THE INTERVIEW:
Call your references and verify that the phone numbers you have for them are current and ask their permission to give their phone numbers to nanny agencies or potential employers. (Out of respect for your past employers, ask parents to hold off calling references until after your initial interview. This will prevent your references from getting burned out from answering the same questions over and over.)
Make sure your resume is up to date and that there are no typos or errors.
Get your portfolio updated or gather letters of recommendation, photos, or anything else that you want to share with the interviewer.
Map Quest the location to make sure you’ll be on time, you might take a trial drive by.
Plan what you are going to wear and keep in mind that you want to look like a professional nanny.
Don’t wear clothing with stains, wrinkles, or anything that is too tight or shows your midriff.
Don’t wear rubber flip flops.
Don’t expose tattoos or unconventional piercings.
Don’t wear excessive make up or fragrance.
Don’t show up with chipped nail polish.
Don’t bring a drink with you.
Don’t bring your cell phone to the interview.
Don’t chew gum or suck on a mint.
Don’t slouch in your chair.
Don’t use slang or profanity.
Don’t refer to a child as a kid.
Don’t talk negatively about past employers.
Introduce yourself with a warm smile when you arrive.
Use the proper title(s) of the individual(s) you’ll be meeting with: Ms., Mrs., Mr., or Dr.
If the children are present greet them or offer to hold the baby (after washing your hands.)
Be prepared with questions about the job: schedule, duties, etc. Ask what they are looking for in a nanny.
Ask if the children have any special needs, temperament, favorite toys, or allergies, etc.
Sit straight up, show interest and allow the interviewer to lead the conversation.
Be respectful, warm, sincere, and responsive.
The first interview is for getting to know one another and seeing if it is a fit for both of you. It is not the time for negotiating salary, benefits, etc.
Thank the interviewer for their time.
Send a thank you note within 24 hours.
MEMORABLE EXAMPLES OF GREAT INTERVIEWS:
During an initial interview, one nanny clinched the job because the parents were so impressed when the nanny asked if she could be the one to change the baby’s diaper. That absolutely wowed them!
Early one morning a mom client called and said we have to hire Susan. I was thrilled to hear how excited she was and asked about their meeting. Mom explained: “My four year old son sat as close to me as he could all through our meeting. He didn’t say a word to any of us. I was concerned that we will never find anyone that he will accept. Our interview drew to a close and just before we said goodnight, Susan said to my son ‘I hope you like chocolate chip cookies, because I love to bake them.’ Still there was no response and I was feeling pretty embarrassed. We walked her to the door and after she left my son said: ‘I like her, can she be our nanny?’”
My best piece of advice for successful interviewing is to show you are warm, safety conscious, child-centered, and love your chosen profession. Save the job negotiations for your agency to handle. Money talks can sour a good relationship.