Top 15 Nanny Interview Questions

By Mike Simpson

Today, we’re doing something a little bit different; we’re setting down our job seeker hat and putting on our hiring manager one for a change. Why the switch? Because there’s a need.

More than 34 million professionals have at least one child under the age of 14. When COVID-19 hit, K-12 school and daycare closures sent millions of children home. Overall, 55.1 million school-aged children and 5 million kids who were preschool-aged or younger were impacted by coronavirus-related changes and shutdowns.

While reopening efforts are moving forward, that doesn’t mean every parent is comfortable sending their children back to schools or daycares. So, what’s an alternative? For parents who need assistance, a nanny could be the answer.

But choosing a nanny isn’t easy. After all, it’s someone who is going to play an important role in your young children’s lives, so you shouldn’t make the decision lightly. That’s why nanny interview questions are so important. If you’re considering hiring a nanny, here’s what you need to know.

Hiring a Nanny

A nanny isn’t just a babysitter. While nannies do keep an eye on your children, they also traditionally do much more. They help kids build essential skills, may assist with homework, and provide them with educational forms of entertainment.

Some nannies are with the same family for years, serving as a primary caregiver for the young children of working professionals. You need to find someone who’s capable and that you feel comfortable with; trust and respect are essential.

During your nanny search, you want to find someone with experience, preferably with kids in your children’s age group. Prior caregiving work experience may also be beneficial, as well as relevant education, such as working toward or having a degree in early childhood education.

Nanny candidates also need to have solid references. Passing a background check is also critical. Failing to run a background check could be a massive mistake.

A reputable nanny is also going to be willing to undergo certain steps. For example, they aren’t going to freak out when you present them with a formal nanny contract (something you really need to have in place). Additionally, they won’t mind going through a trial period, allowing you to evaluate them and them to see if they feel comfortable with your children.

Usually, hiring a nanny isn’t something you wrap up in an afternoon. It’s a process. Not only do you need to be happy, so do your children and the nanny. This is a multi-faceted relationship. It needs to be right on every front.

However, it’s also crucial that parents are realistic. You need to have reasonable expectations about the skills you can find and what the nanny should be willing to do.

Expecting to find a Master’s degree-holder who’s fluent in multiple languages and can teach your kids to code who will also provide your family with gourmet meals and be open to doing some housekeeping means you’re going to end up disappointed. That’s just too much to ask.

Plus, you need to be willing to pay for the capabilities the nanny offers. If you happen to find that well-educated, multi-lingual unicorn of a nanny, offering them a pittance means you aren’t properly valuing their skills.

MIKE'S TIP: While the nationwide average is $15 per hour, you may need to offer more for a highly-skilled, well-educated nanny with a significant amount of prior experience. Similarly, if you live in a city with a higher cost of living (think New York City, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Washington DC), that average probably won’t cut it. The adage, “You get what you pay for” applies here. Don’t think you can pay a nanny like you can a babysitter because you can’t if you want an outstanding caregiver for your kids.

But, if your expectations are reasonable and you’re prepared to pay the going rate in your area, you’re starting in good shape. Then, you have to narrow down your options by asking the candidates the right nanny interview questions.

15 Nanny Interview Questions

The nanny interview questions you ask are important. They let you gather critical kinds of information, ensuring you can find a nanny that meets your and your children’s needs. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are 15 nanny interview questions that have to be on your list.

1. Why did you choose to become a nanny?

While there’s not technically a right answer to this question, understanding what motivates a candidate to pursue this career is critical. Nannies can’t just be in it for the money. The job is challenging, so they need to find meaning in the work. Otherwise, they’ll probably burn out.

2. Do you have CPR and first-aid training?

This question is all about safety. You want a nanny who can make smart choices during a health crisis.

Most nannies are going to have some CPR and first aid training. If they don’t, you may want to ask if they are willing to get it before they start in the position. Usually, finding a course isn’t difficult. And any nanny candidate who says “no” to getting that training probably isn’t one you want to go with.

3. Do you have any relevant education?

While it may be tempting to ask about an early childhood education degree specifically, that isn’t necessarily the best move. There are plenty of degrees that could make a candidate an amazing nanny.

For example, would you be upset if your nanny was studying to be a pediatric nurse? Probably not. Similarly, having a degree in a foreign language, history, mathematics, or anything else could mean that the nanny can help your child excel in that arena.

So, ask this question instead. Let the candidate explain how their education makes them stellar nanny. You might discover that an unconventional degree is actually a great match.

4. Tell me about your experience as a caregiver.

While you probably have a resume in front of you, you still want to ask this nanny interview question. It creates an opportunity for candidates to discuss details that didn’t fit in their application, and can ultimately be pretty enlightening.

Ideally, the candidate won’t just recite facts; they’ll tell you stories that highlight their best moments. And, as they do, you’ll be able to feel their excitement. That’s the sign of a passionate professional, and that’s the kind of nanny you want.

5. How old were the children you cared for in the past?

If the candidate didn’t cover this in the last question, ask this one as a follow-up. It lets you know if they have experience with kids in your children’s age groups.

6. Are you fluent in any other languages? If so, would you be open to teaching it to the kids?

While having a nanny teach your child a second language isn’t a must, it can be a nice bonus. It’s worth asking if candidates are fluent in anything aside from your main language, and if they are willing to teach it to your children.

Being multi-lingual never hurt anyone, and kids can often pick up new languages fast, so why not seize the opportunity if it comes around? Just be aware a multi-lingual nanny usually commands a higher pay rate.

7. What’s your favorite part of working as a nanny? What about your least favorite?

This is another question that lets you discover the candidate’s passions and motivations. Ideally, they’ll enjoy aspects of the job that you find particularly important or ones that give you a sense of peace of mind.

Asking about the least favorite isn’t a trap. Everyone has parts of their job that they don’t enjoy, and that’s okay. However, how the nanny candidate responds could sway your decision, so it’s critical to find out what they don’t like, too.

8. Do you have experience with kids who have particular dietary or medical needs?

Even if your kids don’t have food allergies or a medical condition, this can be a good question to ask. It lets you dive deeper into the candidate’s experience, and you may learn that they’ve successfully navigated challenging scenarios previously.

However, if your child does have specific medical or dietary needs, this question is essential. While a candidate who’s never dealt with it before could still be a good fit, it lets you gauge their perspective on the matter. And, if they do have experience, you may feel more confident in their ability to handle what can be a precarious situation.

9. Describe your daily routine with your last family.

When it comes to nanny interview questions, this one may be unexpected by candidates, so you might catch them off-guard. But, it’s incredibly vital, as it allows you to envision how they might handle a day when caring for your kids.

10. Are you open to responsibilities outside of childcare? If so, would you expect a salary increase for handling those tasks?

While it isn’t reasonable to expect your nanny to also be a maid and personal chef, that doesn’t mean some candidates aren’t willing to do more than care for your kids. This question just lets you find out what they are open to taking on, and if it would cost more for them to do it.

If you have something specific in mind, you can alter the question accordingly. Otherwise, leaving it general may let you learn more about the possibilities, if there are any.

11. Are there any tasks that you would never want or be able to take on?

Figuring out if a nanny candidate has a proverbial line in the sand is a good idea. After all, you don’t want to hire a nanny only to later discover that they aren’t willing to do something with your children that was important to you.

12. Do you have any hobbies? If so, would you be willing to introduce them to the kids?

Some nannies also play musical instruments, are skilled in a sport, have experience as an artist, and much more. If a candidate has a hobby or skill, they might be open to teaching your children, suggesting it is age-appropriate. As a result, it’s wise to ask this question to find out what could be on the table.

13. Do you have a driver’s license? If so, would you be willing to drive the children if the need arises?

While this may seem like a no-brainer, it isn’t a bad idea to ask. Why? Because you may envision your nanny taking your kids to the park, picking them up from playdates, or something similar. If the candidate isn’t open to driving them, then that may be a dealbreaker for you.

14. Are you looking for a long-term family, or to only stay for a particular amount of time?

Some nanny candidates view caregiving as a career. Others consider it a stepping stone, allowing them to earn a living while, say, furthering their education.

Ultimately, neither answer is wrong. However, if there’s a timeframe involved, it’s wise to find out what it is. That way, you can see if their timeline aligns with your needs.

15. Why did you leave your last caregiving position?

There is a multitude of reasons why a nanny might leave a position, many of them completely understandable. The children they cared for last may now be old enough to not need a nanny, for example, or a parent may have decided to leave their job and stay home full-time.

Still, this is important to ask. If the candidate badmouths their last employer, that’s a red flag. Similarly, if they give you one answer, but when you call their previous family as a reference, they tell a different story, that’s a warning sign.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, all of the nanny interview questions above are important. Make sure to add them to your list, increasing the odds that you’ll be able to find the right nanny for your family.

Good luck!

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About The Author

Mike Simpson

Co-Founder and CEO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Mike is a job interview and career expert and the head writer at TheInterviewGuys.com. His advice and insights have been shared and featured by publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur, CNBC and more as well as educational institutions such as the University of Michigan, Penn State, Northeastern and others. Learn more about The Interview Guys on our About Us page.