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Searching for Nanny Jobs: A Guide to Finding the Right Family Fit

By Steven Lampert Published 08/13/2007 | Parenting
When searching for nanny jobs, finding just the right fit is the key. While some compatibility issues between nannies and families don't appear until the two have worked together for a period of time, there are some concerns that can be addressed early in the interview process for nanny positions. There are several steps a nanny will pass through when working with an online listing service to find nanny jobs, and at each step she has the opportunity to learn a great deal about the potential family with which she may work.

Looking through the Listings for Nanny Positions

When a nanny uses an online listing service to begin her search for nanny positions, she will immediately be able to glean information from what she reads. The tone of listings for nanny jobs can offer a few clues as to the type of family requesting placement. The nanny should look closely: Are there a lot of "must have" and "must do" type demands in the listing? Are there basic details about the size of the family and the ages of the children? Does the listing include information about the types of duties that may be expected for the job, from extensive housekeeping to traveling with the family during vacations?

Overall, the nanny should pay attention to clues that may indicate that a family is difficult or easygoing - and then proceed with caution. Remember, sometimes it's easier to speak than to write, so if the details of some listings seem appealing but the tone is slightly off-putting, it's still worth continuing to pursue these nanny positions.

The Email Interview

If the ad seems appealing and there are no immediate red flags, the next step for the candidate seeking nanny jobs will be to contact the family via either the listing site's internal messaging service or via email. In either case, this step provides a great opportunity to ask a lot of introductory questions about the family and the position.

At this stage in the process of interviewing for nanny positions, the correspondence from the family will likely focus on details about the children - how many there are, their ages, and any special needs any of them may have. Discussions about salary and benefits should probably be kept superficial or left until a later stage.

Again, a candidate for any nanny jobs should be cautious and should watch for overly forceful language, questions that may cross the line in terms of the nanny's personal boundaries, or information about the children that could make a nanny uncomfortable. However, if all goes well, the nanny will then likely be asked for a phone interview.

The Phone Interview

If the hunt for nanny jobs has reached the phone interview stage, then it is time to get down to specifics, since nanny positions are each unique. The nanny should make a list of the important questions she has about the job. For example, you may want to ask:

  • What are the hours required for this job?
  • What duties will be expected of me? (Cooking for the children or the family? Cleaning the entire house or just cleaning up after the children? Driving the children to activities?)
  • Can you tell me a bit about the children and their personalities?
  • What is your family's approach to discipline? Am I going to be asked to discipline the children or is that something the family will take care of?
Anytime you are interviewing for nanny jobs, the answers to the questions asked will provide valuable information, but they also will come with additional insight into the family. Does the family respond to the questions in a condescending manner? Does the family act as if questions are a nuisance? The tone and the quality of the responses may be red flags that will end the interview process for these nanny positions. However, if the family is open and honest with the nanny candidate, the phone interview will usually then lead to an in-person interview at the family's home.

The In-Person Interview

Once the nanny has progressed to the in-person interview stage, it is likely that she and the family have expressed a great deal of interest in one another. At this point, the nanny can get the most information about the type of family with which she is dealing and to interview them as much as they are interviewing her.

At this stage, observation is very important in determining if there are any potential problems offered by these nanny jobs. How do the children behave in front of their parents? How do the parents interact with one another? How does the home look in general (neat, dirty, chaotic, orderly)? In addition, if the candidate is interviewing for live-in nanny positions, she should find out if either parent works out of the home and will be home during the day, as well as whether that parent will be available to help out with the children. The nanny can also ask about the family's history with previous nannies and find out if it is possible to talk to any of them as references. Above all, this interview is where the nanny can find out if there is chemistry with her and the rest of the family.

If at any point before or at this stage the nanny feels uncomfortable, she can simply walk away from these nanny positions. But if it seems like the family is a good fit and they make an offer, she can accept and hopefully look forward to becoming a valued member of the family.

You've Been Hired, But It Isn't Working Out - Now What?

Of course, some issues or concerns will not arise until several weeks into the arrangement. Just because candidates have accepted nanny positions does not mean they have to stay there if they - or the family - are uncomfortable. In fact, it is better to recognize the problems early on, before the children get too attached to the nanny (and/or she to them) and at the point where a clean break can be made. Before any final decisions are made, however, the nanny should do her best to communicate her concerns to the family. A simple discussion may be all that is needed to move forward - or there may be deeper problems that will require that the nanny walk away from the job. If this happens, the nanny should simply accept it, learn from it, and move on to more appropriate nanny jobs.

Conclusion

The most important thing for a candidate seeking nanny jobs is to make sure that she will fit in well with the family that hires her. By taking the time at each step in the hiring process to ask key questions about the nanny positions and by observing the situation from all angles, she will be able to determine ahead of time if the family might be a good fit. But only by actually taking the job will she be able to know for sure if the position is right for her - and if it isn't, she should simply move on as quickly as possible.

About the Author

Steven Lampert is the president of eNanny Source, an online nanny service that brings together families and nannies or au pairs. Lampert previously ran a successful, award-winning nanny agency in a major city for over 10 years, during which time he worked with thousands of families and nanny candidates. Through this experience, he became familiar with the important steps in a nanny search, which he continues to apply to his business today. To learn more, please visit www.enannysource.com.