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hiring a nanny - which first, interview or speak to referees?

(29 Posts)
minipie Fri 28-Jun-13 22:26:12

I'm nervously embarking on finding a nanny for the first time. I have had a few send me their CVs and I'd like to find out more.

Now for most jobs I would interview them first and then check references as a final check. But for a nanny it seems to me like the references are almost the most important thing.

Is it ok to contact referees before interviewing the nanny candidate? and if so, what's the etiquette -should I tell them I'm going to call their referees?

thanks

WantToFindWorkLifeBalance Fri 28-Jun-13 22:31:07

I would still usually interview and then do references. If everyone who wanted to even consider my former nanny spoke to me before even interviewing it could get a bit much. I would only really want to provide a reference to someone serious about offering the job. If you use an agency then one advantage is that they will have done an initial reference check.

LynetteScavo Fri 28-Jun-13 22:31:54

I would interview, check references, then do second interview, if you have time.

Interview, references, second interview.
No point checking references if you don't like them!

TeamSouthfields Fri 28-Jun-13 22:35:00

Interview first

OutragedFromLeeds Fri 28-Jun-13 23:49:31

Interview first. Only check references of someone you are prepared to offer the job too. I don't even give my referees details out until I've met the family. I don't think my previous employers would be overly thrilled with me distributing their contact details to any old person!

Reinette Sat 29-Jun-13 03:38:39

Agree with the others. I don't give out my references until I've had an interview and determined it's a position I'm interested in (and that they're interested in considering me for). Interview, check references, second interview.

longjane Sat 29-Jun-13 07:20:35

my son was told by job centre that you should not put reference details on CV

always interview a nanny is a very personal job
you have to like the person and so do your kids

Seb101 Sat 29-Jun-13 08:03:08

As a nanny I don't give reference contact details out until I've been offered job. I explain that if job offer is made it will be subject to reference checks. Over the years my poor previous employers have had loads of phone calls. I used to give details out to anyone vaguely interested in employing me. I'm now much stricter. It's not fair on them to have loads of people calling. I'd suggest interview, 2nd interview, reference checks. I'd go mostly on gut instinct anyway, with reference check hopefully confirming choice. I wouldn't choose a nanny based on reference checks. Everyone has a different opinion on what a good nanny is. Someone with a glowing reference and described a wonderful, might be a terrible match for you. Plus you could be talking to anyone really; nannies friend, family member. Reference checks have limited value in my opinion.

minipie Sat 29-Jun-13 09:01:38

Fair enough! Yes hadn't really thought that the referee could be getting loads of calls. Will interview first.

Nannyme1 Sat 29-Jun-13 11:13:50

I agree with all of the above. Interview first!

Just because someone has the most amazing reference you've ever heard doesn't mean you are going to like her yourself or that she will click with your family.

Cathyrina Sat 29-Jun-13 15:15:06

Interview first. Do Interview - references - second interview if you can. I as a Nanny never give out my previous employers contact details to a random stranger asking for it over Gumtree. I want to meet them first and if we are still both interested in each other, then I am happy to provide contact details for references.

chocoholicanon Sat 29-Jun-13 20:07:34

As everyone has said interview, second interview and meet the children then check references which should back up what you already think and feel about the nanny.

I as a nanny don't want my previous employers having their precious time taken up by doing references. I once went to an interview that went well and the family asked for a reference and I gave the details of the family who I was leaving who gave me a lovely reference, my boss was on the phone for an hour answering questions and giving this detailed reference and I still didn't get the job sad

Karoleann Sat 29-Jun-13 21:32:15

Are you in London? If you are I'd phone the candidate first and check their English first. The first time I hired someone I wasted (their and my) time as the couldn't even hold a conversation in basic English. I'd also send over a detailed job spec too by email.

I would certainly check references after a first interview - you should be down to a couple of candidates by then. I would be really wary of anyone who wouldn't give out referees details after a first interview. There's no point doing a second interview if you find out someone has a bad sickness record or were routinely late.

Basically you want to be asking referees - how many sick days they took, how often they were late, did the children like them. If there were any issues, what were they, and did the nanny address the issues correctly when they were raised. Also ask if they would employ them again and if not, why not.

I would never employ a nanny without two good references, you have someone in your home, looking after your child, you need to know they are safe. Gut instinct is important, but you need to back it up.

minipie Sat 29-Jun-13 22:19:58

Thanks, yes I'm in London, a phone call first is a good idea, esp as fluent English is important to me.

Thanks for the advice on what to ask referees - very helpful.

Any advice on what to be asking the nannies?! I have a few ideas (previous jobs, why they ended, what they would do on an average day, how they would respond to eg tantrum in library or fussy eater, household duties they are willing to do) but not sure what I may have not thought of...

On pay, is it ok to ask the nanny what rate she expects/is currently getting? or does the employer always name a figure first... I'm happy to pay market rate (plus tax) but I'm not totally sure what that is at the moment!

Karoleann Sat 29-Jun-13 22:59:40

I tend to ask for salary expectations beforehand. Some very experienced nannies are used to very high salaries, others will charge less than you may offer. I've paid anything from £8-11/ net hour in London over that last 5 years ( although decide on a gross salary).

I also ask. What they would do if a child bumped their head. What they would do if your child bit another child, or another child bit them. Meal plans for a couple of days. How long can they commit to the job. How they would deal with anything big coming up in your child's life eg potty training, weaning, starting nursery.

Also any questions they have and I go through holidays too.

Hope it all goes well.

minipie Sun 30-Jun-13 08:49:41

thanks! seeing a couple of candidates today, eek!

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 30-Jun-13 12:51:13

Mini, good luck with interviews!!

can I very strongly suggest a few things we've learned from experience:

- I like a trial day before we employ. This can be a really handy way to see how the nanny really gets on with your child.

- be careful with the notice period. Make sure you can terminate in the probation period at any time and have a 6 week probation period

minipie Sun 30-Jun-13 13:40:04

Thanks Harriet! good idea... if the nanny is currently employed, do you do the trial day at the weekend? my dd is only 8 mo and gets on with most people at the moment provided they pull faces at her grin but I guess I cd see how the nanny responds if she gets grumpy etc.

what do you mean by probation period? do you mean their first 6 weeks?

minipie Sun 30-Jun-13 17:11:34

ok, I now have a new problem... I like both the candidates we saw today... not really sure how to choose? argh!

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 30-Jun-13 20:41:06

Trial both and tell them you are doing it. I would pay both for the trial.

Reinette Mon 01-Jul-13 06:13:58

That's a great problem to have! Call all of their references, as well as setting a paid trial day for each of them. By the end of that process your instincts will tell you who's likely to be the best fit. Good luck.

minipie Mon 01-Jul-13 09:36:47

Thanks! Thing is they are both working ft at the moment, so a trial day would have to be a weekend - is that ok?

So is it ok to call references at this stage do you think?

One doesn't quite tick my boxes as much as the other - her English isn't quite as fluent (though it's good) and she doesn't drive... but on the other hand I think I slightly prefer her personality wise (just slightly more my kind of person - though does that really matter?) and she's a little cheaper. thoughts??

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 01-Jul-13 21:19:43

Speaking as someone who has a child with a (hopefully improving) speech delay, I would say where a child is learning to speak I would not compromise on ability to communicate.

I would offer trial day at weekend or their choice to take day off work to do it.

WouldBeHarrietVane Mon 01-Jul-13 21:21:46

Just reread and you say English is still good. in that case yes I think personality matters enormously.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 01-Jul-13 22:09:26

as others have said, interview, see if you like and if th4ey like you and then call last 2 references after have asked nanny back for 2nd interview

Reinette Mon 01-Jul-13 22:48:54

Yep, a weekend trial day is absolutely fine! I almost always work my trial days on Saturdays as I'm usually looking for a new position while still employed FT during the week. And yes, now is a fine time to call references.

In terms of the language, if both are adequately fluent I don't think that matters too terribly, provided she's eager to be very talkative with your DC (early exposure to language matters a great deal). Only you know whether or not driving is important for you/the job; I tend to think that it is but then, I've never driven my current charges anywhere, so my flawless driving record was meaningless when I applied with this family grin It just depends on the circumstances.

I do think it's important to have a nanny that you as the mom can connect with and feel comfortable with. If you can talk about your DC in the same way, if she likes to stay and chat for a few minutes when you get home to fill you in on the day, if you don't feel anxious when she arrives or feel like you have to be "on" in front of her, those are all important for long-term contentment. However, many nanny-employer relationships start off friendly and awkward and move quickly into friendly and comfortable, so I'd still think give them both a full day to demonstrate their on-the-job performance and then you'll almost certainly know which way you're leaning.

minipie Wed 03-Jul-13 10:43:16

Thanks everyone! Personality wise I don't feel like things would be awkward with either, at least so far as I can tell from one interview...

"eager to be talkative" yes i guess this is my main concern, she seemed quite a quiet person and when i add in that English is not her first language, I wonder if she would be less proactive about talking/singing etc to DD who will be learning to talk...I guess a trial day would show this better? also she asked about doing playdates with her local nanny friends and I suspect (though don't actually know) that they are the same nationality so wonder if they would not speak English at these play dates... I did like her though and she has a great word of mouth recommendation which counts for a lot.

driving isn't such an issue I think, I don't drive and not found it a problem...

just thinking aloud really! thanks for all advice.

NomDeClavier Wed 03-Jul-13 13:14:34

Is it worth seeing whether the nanny would speak her own language to DD? Bilingualism is a huge advantage and the nanny might be more comfortable in her own tongue.

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