Interviewing doesn’t come naturally to all of us—if you’re not a journalist, a lawyer, or an investigator (or simply love playing sleuth!), it may feel awkward and uncomfortable to quiz someone you’ve just met about the details of their work and education history. But when the time comes to find the perfect nanny for your child , questions need to be asked, and chances are you’ll be the one doing the asking. Follow our tips and rest assured you’ll soon be interviewing like a pro:
- Be prepared.
A quick Google search will help you locate sample questionnaires or job applications (including this one on our site). Either have your candidate fill out an application/questionnaire and send it to you in advance, or simply select questions that are most important to you to ask during the interview. Make sure you have a hard copy of all the questions you want to ask- it’s easy to forget when you’re in the middle of an interview!
To get you started, we love this very comprehensive list of questions compiled by Helen Moon (The “Baby Nurturer”).
- Think of the interview as a “get to know you” session, not an inquisition.
Remember, even though you are the employer, you and your nanny will be working as a team to give your child the best possible environment and care. It’s hard for anyone to present themselves honestly when they feel nervous or attacked. If you can help your candidate feel at ease she’s more likely to answer honestly (even if those answers aren’t the ones you want to hear.) Framing the interview like this will also help you to relax, listen, and focus on your candidate’s answers so you can ask the follow-up questions that count.
- Silence is your friend.
As uncomfortable as it might feel, you need to give your candidate the time and space to answer your questions. If her résumé shows a gap and you ask, “What were you doing between March 2010 and April 2011?” make sure she answers without any help. Don’t be afraid to ask simple questions and wait for an explanation. Listening is just as important as asking.
- Review dates carefully.
We like to think of this as “reading between the lines”. If you see any gaps on your candidate’s résumé or application, make sure to ask what she was doing during this period. Gaps aren’t necessarily negatives, but it’s important to know why they occurred and what didn’t make it onto the résumé. Oh, and remember those follow-up questions we mentioned? Make sure you ask your candidate to clarify any answers you don’t understand. It’s in both of your best interests to get the information right.
- Make notes.
If you can, jot down your candidate’s answers during the course of the interview. If you find this too distracting or difficult, then make sure you take a few minutes after your candidate leaves to focus and write down everything you remember, including your overall impressions of the candidate and gut feelings about the interaction you just had. If you are conducting the interview along with a partner or spouse, it can be helpful for each of you to do this separately for reference before you discuss your impressions with one another.
- Don’t worry.
Above all, try not to worry. Remember, you won’t be making a decision by the end of the interview, and you owe it to yourself and your child to be thorough. It’s far better to ask the tough questions now, rather than later if things aren’t going well. If you approach the interview with a spirit of respect and professionalism, a solid candidate will understand and appreciate your interest and level of commitment to the process.