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October 28th, 2012

What type of nanny do I need and how do I interview them? A little helpful advice from our Director Vanessa Cook, mother to a 3 year old, former nanny, recruiter and employer of nannies.


If it’s your first time, we know it’s scary. Remember, we are here to help.
If this is your first time hiring a nanny or nanny-housekeeper I imagine you are terrified by the prospect. Maybe you have a 6 month old baby who you could not bear to pass on to your mother let alone a stranger!
Well, relax a little. When you do find your perfect candidate you will wonder what all the fuss was about. In home childcare is a truly a wonderful thing.
As you watch your child learn in the safety of your home, with an intelligent, educated and engaging nanny, you will feel secure as you walk out the door for work or play.

Decisions, decisions… What type of child carer is right for you?
Before beginning your search you need to have in mind a job description. Your Little Ones consultant will gladly help you with this. Ask yourself a few questions:

Do I want someone to live with my family or return home each day?
There are pros and cons to live in assistance. Cost is a major draw card but should not be your only reason. First you need to ask yourself “am I really prepared to share my living room, kitchen, home, 7 days per week? Or do I love my privacy too much!” A live in nanny will provide longer hours and flexibility of babysitting without the guilt of returning home from a night out early. A live in is also wonderful if you or your partner travels frequently.

Do I need help full time, a few days or just afternoons?
Maybe two days a week works. Be realistic. If you want a qualified nanny with 10 years’ experience, you can’t expect her to work the odd afternoon and occasionally full time. A nanny like this will seek the top salary with the best conditions. If you are looking for casual childcare this profile is very different.

Do I want to raise my child bilingual?
A bilingual nanny will cost you no more and will give your children an extra advantage in life by teaching a second language. Learning two languages at a young age is natural. Studies have shown bilingual children outperform monolingual children in reading, writing and cognitive skills.

What do I want my child carer to do?
Maybe you want someone to focus’ their day just on educating and playing with your child. Maybe you would like a nanny/housekeeper who cleans, cooks, irons, dusts and has time left over for your baby. Each candidate type is very different, and you need to consider what is right for your family.

With your Little Ones consultant arrange a time to meet the candidates when you will be able to concentrate fully. It is important for the candidates to meet your children, but having them present for the entire interview may be distracting.

Go through the candidates CV carefully. Look for areas you wish to question them on:

  • What activities did you plan with the children in your previous position?
  • Why did the contract end?
  • Do you still keep in contact with previous employers?
  • What was the most challenging aspect of the position?
  • What was the most enjoyable aspect?
  • Question the candidate about her qualifications, remember nannies may still be very good candidates even if they do not have qualifications. Experience is always the most important attribute when caring for children.

The interview

Take your time when meeting a prospective candidate this will help you both to feel at ease. Begin by talking about your children and the position:

  • Confirm the start date and hours of work.
  • Discuss household duties, i.e. cooking, children’s washing.
  • Run through each child's routine and which aspects the carer will be responsible for, i.e. playgroups, swimming lessons, homework.
  • If the children have any allergies, medical conditions or special dietary requirements discuss these.
  • If the childcare is in your home, discuss the rules of the house. It is normal for a nanny to arrange playgroups with other nannies and meetings at the park, but only if this is something you are happy with.
  • Let the nanny know your policy on this, i.e. do they have permission to invite other nannies and children to your house?


Now proceed with your prepared questions. A good candidate will be proud of their vocation - look for passion in their answers, but remember they may be nervous!

  • What do you enjoy about caring for children?
  • What qualities do you think are important to have as carer of children and why?
  • What do you feel is the most difficult aspect of childcare?
  • What are you philosophies on discipline? Give the nanny specific examples and ask him / her to comment e.g. What would you do if Peter refused to take a bath?
  • Ask the candidate about herself, what hobbies s/he has.
  • Ask the candidate to describe herself. Does s/he believe s/he is punctual, reliable?
  • What activities do you enjoy doing with children?
  • How would you plan a typical day?
  • Ask the candidate if s/he has experience in specific skills you require of him/her, i.e. perhaps you have a toddler soon to be going through potty training, ask the candidate if s/he has experience in this field.
  • What are the important areas of development for each child during the following year.
  • What do you think is important in my child’s / children’s diet? How would you plan their meals and what would you cook?
  • How would you react in an emergency? Have you ever been in an emergency with a child?

Post interview

If you loved the candidate that you just met be sure to let your Little Ones consultant know! Little Ones will arrange a trial for you with the candidate so you do not need to feel committed before you have seen how they perform with your children.
Remember, throughout the process, Little Ones are always here to help.
Take care and I hope you find someone perfect for your little ones.


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