Hiring a Nanny? What You Need To Know

by guest blogger Lynn Wariara

A nanny is commonly defined as one who has a responsibility and caring for a child or children and takes care of any household chores in relation to the children. She may or may not have any formal training, but has to have some sort of concrete professional background experience with children.

Hiring a nanny can be a very overwhelming task to take on but with a simple help guide explaining the nanny interview process, the result can turn out to be very successful and rewarding to both you and the child.

When thinking of hiring a nanny, a lot has to be put into consideration. Assessing decisions such as, salary you are willing to invest, the hours required, the duties or responsibilities that should be undertaken, live-in or live-out, interest in share-care (which is sharing a nanny with two or more families) all need to be decided BEFORE parents can seek out a nanny.


When arranging for nanny interviews, the parents need to make sure they ask the appropriate questions that will give them the feedback they need to help them make the right decision. Nanny searching can seem inundating especially when the pool of responses seem big enough to drown in. Start by eliminating the responses that seem feasible down to five. The parents should first call the nanny and discuss questions that will help decide whether it will be promising for both nanny and family to meet.

Here are some discussions that need to be talked about on the phone between the nanny and parent before they can

  • Describe to the nanny in detail the position and what it entails.
  • The hours and days of the week the parents are looking to hire.
  • Let the nanny know if she is required to have a driver’s license? A car? Specific languages and so forth.
  • Pets? (Describe to the nanny if there are any pets ahead of time in case the nanny is allergic).
  • Make sure that language is not a heavy barrier when communicating to the nanny. Not being able to understand each other can be very frustrating down the line and can affect your communication greatly.
  • Discuss the compensation. Don’t wait to meet to discuss the pay.

If all of these seem to check the list, then the parent and the nanny should take this to the next step by scheduling a time where they can both meet.


The regular time lapse when interviewing a nanny can be anywhere from ½ hour to one hour, depending on the flow of the interview. When interviewing a nanny you want to make sure you create an atmosphere that is less intimidating as possible because the less tense it is, the more open your candidate will be and a better chance for you to really get to know the nanny’s personality which can help in making a better judgment in choosing your nanny.

During the live interview, start by reassuring the conversation you had with her over the phone, which is job description, hours, duties and the salary agreed upon.

  • Explain to the nanny about the family and children.
  •  Ask the nanny about herself and her experience with childcare and ages she has cared for.
  • Discuss with the nanny the list of questions you have for her which include professional questions, hypothetical questions and personal questions.
  •  Ask the nanny for any specific questions she may have regarding the position.

If they seem interested in this candidate, let them know that you will be running a background check on them and that you will be calling up their references.

Examples of Professional Questions

  • Why is she seeking for a nanny position?
  • How long has she been doing childcare?
  • Why did she leave her previous employer?
  • How long was she working at her last employer?
  • What activities does she recommend when caring for children?
  • What do children like best about her?
  • What does she value in children?

Examples of Hypothetical Questions

  • How does she feel about discipline on a child/infant? And how would she go about it?
  • How would she handle a crying baby? How would she try to soothe the baby?

Examples of Personal Questions 

  • Do she have any health issues that she feels might interfere with her work?
  • Ask her to tell you about herself, her strengths and weaknesses

Questions to do with race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability are actually prohibited by law to ask during any interview.


Is not straight forward – A nanny that does not seem to be confident when explaining her past experience is definitely a red flag. You need to hire a nanny that is straight -forward and honest with her past experiences as a child caretaker.

Lack of enthusiasm – The parent should make sure they hire a nanny that shows definite interest in children and children activities. A nanny that is not enthusiastic about her job will not contribute creative activities towards the children.

Unresponsive – A nanny that does not seem to engage or respond verbally during an interview is probably a sign for you not to hire her. A nanny that is engaged and alert in her response is a nanny who you can trust to be proactive especially in an emergency crisis.

Unaware – A nanny has to show some awareness when it comes to taking care of children. You don’t want to hire a nanny who seems oblivious or ignorant to whatever is happening around her. Awareness is a must-have trait as a nanny.

When a nanny-parent relationship is established, family life can be smooth sailing with parents knowing their child/children are well cared for. Negotiating the relationship can be a fragile process with potential misunderstandings and tensions especially from the get go. But with the right start of clarity and communication all the struggles can be ironed away.

Lynn Wariara has been in the nanny industry for nearly two decades and is currently writing a book about nanny care. She also maintains Aunt Emma’s blog, which can be found here.