7 nanny interview questions you should really ask

Sure, they drool all over you, but it’s still not easy to relinquish parenting duties—even temporarily—to someone who isn’t yourself. That said, if you find the right person, it is possible for the transition back to be super smooth. But some nanny interview questions are better than others. Here, the ones you absolutely need to ask.

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Questions to ask your nanny
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Questions to ask your nanny

WHAT’S YOUR COMMUNICATION STYLE WHILE YOU’RE WORKING?

Will she text you pics? Will she respond instantly (or will there be a delay) when you check in about nap routines, diaper contents and more? Will she send unsolicited updates? All this info is essential to know. Of course, how you measure her response to depends entirely on your parenting style. But even if her answer is that she’ll text you back when she can get to it, but within 30 minutes, and send you one pic per day after the second nap, it’s all about managing expectations—and helps her understand your own communication expectations, too. 

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT AN EMERGENCY SITUATION YOU’VE BEEN IN OR SOMETHING THAT SCARED YOU?

Obviously, no emergency is the same, but getting to the bottom of how they reacted/problem solved an unexpected situation that came up is key. Still, the devil’s in the details: You’ll want to know how she responded in the moment, but also how she communicated what happened after the fact to the parents. Also, what did she learn from it? Was it something that could have been prevented/avoided?

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE RUN LATE GETTING HOME?

Of course, this is the exception to the rule, but delays happen. Does your nanny have a hard stop at 6 p.m. (or whenever your work day ends) or is there a buffer? Also, if you’re paying someone a weekly flat rate that’s based on hours worked, will she charge you for that time? (Once you agree on how to handle a situation like this, it’s smart to spell it all out in the contract just to be safe.)

HOW DO YOU *REALLY* FEEL ABOUT HOUSEWORK?

Yes, we know cleaning is a “nice to have” and not her primary responsibility, but you’ll feel better knowing in advance where she stands on tasks like emptying the diaper pail or picking up all those Legos before you get home. Try to get a feel for what she’s comfortable with and what her limitations are. And is it a deal-breaker for you if she’s against taking this on? Find out.

WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES DO YOU LIKE DOING WITH A KID WHO’S [INSERT AGE OF YOUR CHILD HERE]?

Cue the big reveal. Basically, how does your nanny plan to spend their 9 to 5 while you’re not home? Will they read books? Plan play dates or activities? Entertain other kids at your home? This question helps you get a sense of their caretaking style—are they engaged/creative or just running through the motions until you walk in the door?

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY WITH THE LAST CHILD YOU CARED FOR?

OK, yes, this is a bit of a “fluff” question, but it’s also pretty revealing—does your nanny candidate struggle to think of an anecdote? Or is she excited to rattle off a memory or two that shows off just how much she loved the child that was previously in her care? In most cases, the person you hire for this role should feel like family. This question is her opportunity to prove her passion for the job.

CAN YOU DO A TRIAL RUN?

This might mean you hire her (yes, a trial is paid) for an afternoon or two where she shadows you or a week where she runs the show while you knock a few errands off your list in close proximity nearby. Either way, it’s essential to test the waters before you sign on the dotted line to be sure it’s a fit, not just for you, but for her, too.

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