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How to interview nannies

38 replies

boompi · 09/03/2006 21:50

Any ideas on questions to ask prospctive nannies? Any questions you wish you had asked in retrospect? We are about to get shortlist from an agency.
Also what are going rates (net per week) for a nanny share(two babies) in central London?

OP posts:
RedTartanLass · 09/03/2006 22:20

If you do a search on Google, you'll find loads of great questions. I thought I'd kept a copy of the questions I asked, but 'fraid not!!

I've just started a nanny (my first) on Tuesday, and I seem to have been incredibly lucky!! Maybe shouldn't tempt fate Sad

It all seems so complicated, in the begginning Grin, I didn't hire thorugh an agency.I was more worried about getting refs.

No idea what the rates are in London, but do a search on the archives here, there areloads of threads.

Don't think I've been much help...sorry

RedTartanLass · 09/03/2006 22:22

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lounan · 09/03/2006 23:12

Hi Have a look on should give you an idea.

Uwila · 10/03/2006 09:53

Questions for you:

  1. Describe a typical day’s activities for you and toddler/baby?

  2. Describe a typical weekly meal plan for toddler/baby (include breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks you may offer them)?

  3. How would you describe your approach to discipline (as appropriate to a toddler/baby)?

  4. Do you have any degrees or diplomas in childhood education? Any degrees or diplomas in other subjects? If so, what subjects?

  5. Do you speak any languages besides English? Would you teach it to toddler/baby?

  6. What is the longest time you would be willing to stay?

  7. How many hours of television do you think a toddler/baby should watch each day?

  8. What kinds of television programs do you believe are acceptable for a toddler/baby?

  9. Why do you want to work in England?

  10. If we travel as a family within the UK, would you want to join us? What about Europe? The United States?

  11. Do you smoke? If so, how much?

  12. Do you have any requests in terms of the accommodation we offer you?

  13. Are you an au pair / nanny now? If not, why have you decided to become one?

  14. What kinds of foods do you like to eat? (Please be specific and use as much space as you need.)

  15. Do you drink alcohol? If so, how much?

  16. How many hours do you want to work each week?

  17. Describe your experience with babies/toddlers.

  18. Would you be willing to provide overnight care of toddler/baby (in the unlikely event that both parents are required to travel for work during the week)?

  19. Do you have a driver’s license? From what country? How long have you had it?

  20. Do you own a car in the UK?

  21. What do you like to do in your spare time?

  22. Describe your personality?

  23. What qualities make you well suited to be a nanny?

  24. What is your worst habit?

  25. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? fiancé/fiancée? spouse? If so, where does he live?

  26. Do you know anyone in England? Friends? Family?

  27. Would you take care of toddler/baby if he/she was sick? (They do not get sick a lot, I only ask as a precaution)

  28. Do you have a credit card? A UK bank account?

  29. Do you play any sports? Which ones? How often?

  30. Can you provide a reference from a previous au pair/nanny/nursery job? If so, please attach to this questionnaire and/or provide contact information of previous employer(s).

  31. How many times have you been sick in the last year? What was the illness?

  32. Do you have any children? If so, what ages? Where do they live?

  33. What sorts of things would you include in each entry of the nanny diary? (If it is easier to attach a sample rather than descries it here, feel free to do so)

  34. What is your view on discipline? Should a toddler/baby have a rigid set routine for meals, naps, play etc. which is strictly followed each day? Or should he/she be allowed to eat, sleep, play whenever and whatever he/she wants?

  35. Do you wish to obtain any additional employment besides being our nanny?

  36. For how long to you plan to pursue a career as a live-in nanny? What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time? In ten years time?

  37. Are you available for a face-to-face interview in the United Kingdom? If so, when?

  38. What is your salary expectation?

  39. Are you in possession of a work visa for the United Kingdom? If so, what are the restrictions?
Uwila · 10/03/2006 09:57

Further to this, I would never use an agency. Simply not worth the money. But if money is no object for you and it makes life easier, then go for it. BUT, please please please check references yourself. I've heard a lot of bad agency stories (and some good ones too).

krabbiepatty · 10/03/2006 10:08

"What was the best thing about your last job?" I often find quite revealing. The number of nannies who say "the car" or "the holidays"... I also always have children there for part of the interview - very revealing. References are the most crucial thing - a really good nanny will ahve glowing references

krabbiepatty · 10/03/2006 10:11

The advantage of an agency is that at least they do the primary sift for you. It can be difficult to shortlist yourself from 100+ calls from eg a Lady advert but you do need to take up the references yourself. don't know about nanny share rates, but they will be higher than the net rates for a single family nanny which are around £375 - 450 net pw

Screwballmuppet · 10/03/2006 10:25

When they giveyou answer to a question probe a little further.
i.e. if they say they cook so and so meals......ask them to give you a rough run down how they prepare them.
My advice would be to always dig a little deeper even if it seems silly or's not (speaking from experience)

Uwila · 10/03/2006 10:27

£375-£450 net. Shock
Not on my planet.

krabbiepatty · 10/03/2006 10:39

What do they get on your planet uwila? Am talking a 50 hour per week live out nanny in London.

boompi · 10/03/2006 10:42

Wow Uwila - what a great list - thanks! Other links useful too!

OP posts:
Uwila · 10/03/2006 10:46

First, I would offer a gross salary, not net. Then, I'd cut the agency out of the equation and post ads on and I'd also scope out any local nursery employees who might be interested in earning more than minimum wage.

I think I'd offer more like £325 gross (you each obviously pay £175 plus employer's taxes).

I take it live-in is not an option?

Also, remember that agencies have a vested interest in inflating the nanny's salary (as their commission is based on it).

krabbiepatty · 10/03/2006 10:52

£325 gross? Am astonished you could get anyone for that. Gross we pay something over £500 and we are really not paying top rate as I undertand it.

boompi · 10/03/2006 10:53

Uwila. Live in not an option! Why offer gross not net? Are you in London as it seems costs escalate in central london (for everything!!)?

OP posts:
Uwila · 10/03/2006 10:54

Per week?!?!?! You most certainly are paying top rate.

arfissimo · 10/03/2006 10:54

Most important - definitely check references. Don't assume anything. Ask the other mums lots and lots of questions.

Ask exactly what they do with a child of your age group every day.

Are they self-motivating or will you have to find classes/activities?

What food do they eat? Do they understand good nutrition? Will they be feeding your LO McDonalds every day?

Ask how many times they have been off sick in the last year.

Ask if they have any holidays planned.

What would they do in an emergency? Do they have a first aid certificate? Eg - your child hit their head, they seem ok, but what would you do? What signs would you look out for? Do you know the emergency number to dial?

Do they know other nannies for playdates?

Get a feel if this job is a means to an end (eg for travel) or if they genuinely love children.

If they are live in check their living habits - clean/tidy - boyfriends - eating habits / cigarettes/alcohol.

Do they have a drivers licence? No uk residents are difficult to insure - would they change their licence for a British one?

krabbiepatty · 10/03/2006 10:57

Not according to any agency have ever come across. Last time we interviewed, they were quite sniffy about how many of their candidates wouldn't look at £375 net and were expecting £400 plus. Maybe private adverts tap a different nanny crowd?

Uwila · 10/03/2006 10:59

I'm not in central London. But, still inside M25. However, my experience is with live-in. I might be underetimating. But definitely know peopl who pay a lot less than what agencies suggest.

Check out the nursery staff and see what sort of salary they are expecting. Working in a nursery is not as nice as being a nanny. So if you go to some workers there, you will probably find that they are more than happy to leave for a bit more money. So, you'd have to pay about £7 or £8 gross between the two of you... 50 hours a week takes that to £350 - £400. Okay, a bit more than my original suggestion. Perhaps that was a bit low.

Pay gross because you don't want to be responsible for her taxes. You need to extract them from her check, but don't offer to pay them yourself. There is a huge cost difference here.

Tanzie · 10/03/2006 11:01

Over 500 squid a week gross? I am in the wrong bloody job. Shame I don't like children. Grin

Take up references on the phone as people are always more honest on the phone. I was brutally frank on the phone about my evil nanny (get yer violin out, Uwila!) and equally have had people be very frank on the phone with me.

Have the children there at interview. Our first nanny scooped DD1 out of her bouncy seat to cuddle almost as soon as she walked through the door, and it was clear from the start that she really loved children.

Uwila · 10/03/2006 11:02

Yes, I think agencies take you for a ride. That's how they make money. I've never used one, but I hear loads of stories about what a bad service they provided and cost an arm and a leg.

krabbiepatty · 10/03/2006 11:07

The best nanny we ever had brought with her a photo album of her most recent charges and various beautiful birthday cakes she had made. She also had on her a bag of Easter eggs as she was about to visit them (gets tear in eye contemplating fabulous nanny fo yesteryear...)

Uwila · 10/03/2006 11:07

You might also consider hiring a nanny from outside the uk (though this is difficult when not offereing a live-in position) or a nanny who has a child that she needss to bring with her. As you already have 2 babies, you probably need the nanny's own child to be a bit older (say 3+). But if she bring her child to work, it should bring your costs down a bit, as her child should be considered as an addition party to share.


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Uwila · 10/03/2006 11:09

Oooo, listen to Tanzie on her advice of verbal references. If you can not contact and talk to a reference then disregard it. Never hire anyone you can't get a verbal reference on.

Tanzie · 10/03/2006 11:13

I had one au pair who had a fantastically glowing reference from a previous employer. I rang her up and she said "Don't touch her with a bargepole!"

I was factual about my evil nanny, I just listed the dates she had worked for me and her duties.

krabbiepatty · 10/03/2006 11:23

Yes phone reference completely vital (and treat with suspicion - ask enough questions to satisfy yourself that is not just the nanny's mate). Glowing paper reference no good, you want to quiz the previous employers. The employer of the kind of nanny you want says stuff like:
"I can't think of a bad quality x has.."
"My children loe x; she will always be a family friend..."
etc etc

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