Once you have decided to hire a nanny and you’ve chosen the right staffing agency, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re still in control. Even if you only employ this nanny over the summer, they can effect your life for years to come. Here is what you need to know in order to make sure the hiring process ends with you and the right nanny.
Referrals are an invaluable resource. Exhaust them.
Some people make the mistake of seeing that someone has provided referrals and think that’s enough. Some people think that because someone else has checked the referrals that everything is good. You may call a referral and they will tell you your candidate is the greatest thing since peanut butter married jelly, but in the course of the conversation realize their priorities are completely different than your own. In short order, you may see what worked in another household will not work in yours.
Spend five minutes on the phone with each of your candidate’s former employers. Be casual and friendly, because getting a sense of who they are is just as important as getting a sense of who the candidate is. Be wary of the kind of praise the candidate receives. Often you may hear people say, “Oh, we just loved having her as a nanny, she was a like a member of the family.” That’s certainly a warm review, but if that’s what they’re saying without saying things like, “she’s always on time,” “he kept the household so clean,” “the kids always got their homework done and were well-fed”, then maybe the candidate had a good personal relationship without actually developing or demonstrating the skills you have determined are important to you.
Interview, consider, repeat.
Do not be rushed to decision. Interview as much as possible. If you have interviewed one candidate twice and are not one hundred percent sold, call for a third interview and bring the children. There’s no benefit to making the decision quickly if you make the wrong decision ultimately.
It goes without saying what the worst results of hiring the wrong person can be. However, the minimal amount of damage caused by hiring the wrong person is the upheaval it brings to your children, to your professional life, without making any mention of having to start the process from the beginning.
Don’t bother with abstract questions like what the candidates five-year plan is. Draw upon a situation with your child that could have gone better and ask what they would have done. Discuss a behavior you have seen or anticipate seeing and find out how the nanny would respond when exposed to it. Is there a recurrent problem in your household or family that may rear its head while the nanny has your children? Discuss that now. If they happen to give a response that’s contrary to your wishes, discuss their reasoning. It is important that you understand where their values lie before knowing whether or not they will be a good fit in your household.
Also, pay special attention to the candidates who are interviewing you, as well. A candidate who is asking you questions, seeking to understand how the household works, is one who has enough experience to anticipate what the job may require. It is also a sign that they know their own worth and preferences, a hallmark of a well-established nanny. Of course, that may not make them the perfect fit. But the candidate who with whom you have a slight contradiction but asks all the right questions is a better choice than the one nodding their head and agreeing silently.
Contracts and specificity are the greatest security.
Before you have the right candidate, you should have drafted your expectations in full. Yes, it may take a bit of time, but it will save you a great deal more in the long run. Categorize your expectations according to your demands. Good examples would be schedules, chores, dietary concerns/restrictions and activities. If you are less picky, use fewer. But if you have a clear image of what you want, don’t hesitate to be as precise as possible. Delineate in great detail what you will be paying for so that you know in your own head what you want.
Even more important than the candidate knowing you expectations is you that are clear on your needs. Without that clarity, you will not be able to communicate effectively what you expect to happen. Once you are approaching your decision, feel free to share your list with your candidate and see how they respond. You should only fear being seen as controlling or strict if your list is somehow unreasonable or beyond reproach. There is always room for negotiation with a candidate you like and trust. After all, a strong candidate may help you forge a stronger contract within their employment or with future candidates.
Let J. Danielle & Co. simplify the process for you. Having been a leader in domestic staffing for ten years, our experience putting the right nanny in the right house will be invaluable to you. Click here to get started finding the help you need.