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References for new Nanny

(19 Posts)
mummywoowoo Sun 25-Oct-09 20:37:15

Hi ladies, what's the best way to go about getting these?

I'm guessing I just ask the potential nanny for their names and numbers...

Questions I'd ask:
* dates of employment
* job title and duties/responsibilities
* ages of children
* level of performance
* salary
* reason for leaving
* Timekeeping and absence record

Am I on the right lines?

CristinaTheAstonishing Sun 25-Oct-09 20:40:12

Ask also "if you had to criticise her, how did she take it?". I was surprised by this question but had to answer honestly to the other mum that it would usually have to be my DH doing that and that the nany would generally sulk. Not something I'd have offered in a written reference or even thought about beforehand but I suppose quite telling about the relationship with the nanny.

mummywoowoo Sun 25-Oct-09 20:55:26

Cristina that's a v good idea, I will add that, thanks.

Did you do phone referees and postal - or is that OTT??!

CristinaTheAstonishing Sun 25-Oct-09 21:07:47

I wrote some in very general terms but with my phone number to be called to discuss further.

Summersoon Sun 25-Oct-09 21:20:00

* What she was particularly good at and also if there was anything that she wasn't that good at (e.g. play skills, craft skills, cooking skills)
* What the child(ren) liked about her (if old enough to say)
* Whether she got along with the parents
* Whether she knows other nannies in the area and old their charges are (ask because your dc will be spending quite a bit of time with them!)
* Whether you would hire her again if cirucmstances were unchanged (e.g. child same age as before)
* Anything else about her that the other family thinks you need to know

mummywoowoo Sun 25-Oct-09 21:30:42

Excellent thanks Summersoon

MW xx

Millarkie Sun 25-Oct-09 21:41:08

Do phone - you can get a lot more by pauses and tone of voice than you get from a written reference.
Can't think of anything to ask that hasn't already been mentioned.

Blondeshavemorefun Mon 26-Oct-09 10:27:52

Does the nanny have written refernces?

I would ask for numbers from last 2/3familys - depending on how long she had been in her jobs

if a nanny has been in a job for 3+years I would say she is probably a good nanny or else the family would have got rid of her

saying that i know many nannies who have been in several short jobs, through no fault of their own

ie mum being made redundant,moving house,giving up job,getting pregnant

deg agree ring as you can tell a lot through tone of voice

AtheneNoctua Mon 26-Oct-09 12:23:15

If she gives you a reference for her current job give that one much less weight because of course they might have a vested interest in getting rid of her.

Ask about the things that are important to you.

Mine are:
tidiness (this becomes more important as children get older)
work ethic (i.e. doesn't call in sick every time she sneezes)

If you want a tidy nanny, ask what her bedroom looks like. If you want a sport nanny, ask what sports she/he CURRENTLY plays. If you want a nanny who can teach your kids to read at age 4/5/6 ask him/her where one might buy Jolly Phonics (if they are British. I wouldn't expect a foreigner to know this).

AtheneNoctua Mon 26-Oct-09 12:25:03

Oh, and never accept a reference whom you can not speak to... no matter why.

fridayschild Mon 26-Oct-09 14:04:40

I would always ring for references. Start off with the "easy" questions like dates of employment, duties, ages of children, and then build up into more open questions about strengths and weaknesses etc. Hopefully you will get a rapport going before you ask them whether they would ever employ her again!

Phoning is better because of the pauses, but also so that people can explain reasons. So someone told me that she really didn't like the fact that nanny (shocked pause) machine washed little darling's jumpers, rather than handwashing them. This didn't bother me as my little darlings have nothing that requires hand washing as a matter of principle. And I had a mother's help I wouldn't leave in full time sole charge because her English wasn't very good. The person who rang me for a reference for the mother's help was looking for someone to speak Spanish to her DC. I think speaking to referees is a good way of finding out if the nanny is the right nanny for your family.

mummywoowoo Mon 26-Oct-09 16:46:59

fabulous thanks ladies

AtheneNoctua Mon 26-Oct-09 17:01:31

You might also ask if thenanny knew when to take the lead and when to back off and let you take the lead. And then see if that mum/dad had that same expectations you do. That is, do you want someone to hit the ground running, or do you want to be involved and specify how lots of things should be done. Do you want the nanny to choose approriate activities or do want to tell her what the activities are? Everyone is different. Ther is no right or wrong here. But, do look for a nanny who wants the same things you want.

Summersoon Mon 26-Oct-09 18:13:35

@ Mods - I think that some of the advice on here - especially from Athene who is clearly very, very experienced - is so good that you should consider putting it (and similar high-quality advice on other issues) into a handbook section titled "how to" that people can refer to over and over again. I find that if you read this forum long enough, the same questions do crop up periodically and, very often, people come up with great ideas.
Someone would have to do some serious editing though as sadly some threads can get very bad-tempered.

frakula Mon 26-Oct-09 22:04:58

I think there should be a MN guide to nannies and au pairs...there are MN guides to other things after all!

A good nanny will offer you their references. Do allow time to chase them - I recently interviewed with someone who wanted to speak to all my references within 24 hours. This is, unfortunately, not doable and not because my referees are particularly hard to get hold of.

Also don't worry if your nanny gives you contact details and says to e-mail/write first - with at least 2 of my referees I never know what timezone they're in because they travel a lot on business and I wouldn't want them to be woken up because they're in Japan just because someone else wants a reference grin

Summersoon Mon 26-Oct-09 22:22:52

I believe that others have said it but I'll say it again, just in case: if the nanny's CV has gaps in it or if she refuses to give you contact details for a previous employment, big red warnings lights should start flashing. We had a discussion on another thread about this recently and I remain adamant that I would never hire a nanny under such circumstances.
One advantage of speaking to people on the phone is that you ought to be able to grasp pretty quickly if a poor or indifferent reference is likely to reflect more on that family than on your applicant - I had this once with a very good candidate.

mummywoowoo Mon 26-Oct-09 23:00:06

ah I had noticed some gaps must ask about these.

Great pointers here thank you again!

HarrietTheSpy Tue 27-Oct-09 10:02:25

Our second nanny had three fantastic references - and several big problems as well. I still wonder whether I missed a trick. Thoughts:

Don't ignore the stuff that doesn't seem immediately childcare related as it may still tell you something about what the person would be like as an employee.I didn't ask about secondary school (thought it was irrelevant) it would have been very revealing. Turns out it was a special school because the mainstream school didn't feel they could cope with her medical condition. Was right there on her cv, the clue to a big problem, didn't ask about it.

Check that the nanny's 'life story' accd to the refs is consistent with what you've been told and also consistent among the referees. I'm not insinuating that you're likely to be interviewing someone who's taking on other identities but esp if there are gaps, it's good to know that the other family has been given the same reason you have about what she was doing.

More generally: salary expect should be in line with training and experience. If you're offering a job which is a pay cut for the nanny or just doesn't make sense for their experience but they're still really keen just make sure you're happy you understand why this makes sense for them. In a recessionary market there could be good reasons, I grant you, but in our case it was a major red flag. We had one nanny quoting a ridiculously high salary - of course the other family were not paying tax, it transpires. (NOt suggesting you ask this question directly of the referees!!!)

mummywoowoo Wed 28-Oct-09 14:07:54

Harriet that's great thanks. Few interview lined up so fingers crossed!

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