It’s best to agree a contract with your nanny, including the hours that she works, whether she works some time at weekends and does some babysitting. It’s always good to include a list of the things she is expected to do, so everyone knows what the job entails from the start.
There is now a registration system in place for nannies, but it is voluntary and was introduced only recently. Whether or not your nanny is registered, you will need to rely on checking CVs and references thoroughly; even if you are using a nanny agency, do all the checks yourself too. Check for gaps on the CV – gaps can sometimes indicate a nanny’s wish to cover up a bad job. You also could try to check out that each job listed was held by the candidate and lasted for the amount of time stated on the CV. Take up two references from other parents. If you can, speak to them as well; it might give you a better feel for the qualities of the person. Nannies should always be qualified and will usually have a BTEC qualification. Ask to see a certificate and perhaps ring their college to check that the course was completed successfully.
Try to find a number of possible nannies to interview. Make sure you look at all their qualities carefully before making a selection. If you aren’t happy with any of them, keep looking at alternative options – don’t just settle for the best of the bunch. Make a list of questions, like the ones below, that you want to ask each candidate.
Remember to discuss what the job will involve.
1. What experience do you have?
2. How many children have you cared for and how old were they?
3. What do you find most rewarding about being a nanny?
4. What do you find most difficult about being a nanny?
5. What might a typical day be like for Jenny and John, our children?
6. What are your attitudes/practices regarding discipline and manners?
7. Are you a trained first aider?
8. What difficulties have you experienced with parents/children in live-in positions?
9. How were these resolved?
10. How many days have you had off sick in the last twelve months?
11. Do you have any experience of toilet training?
12. What is your attitude/practice as regards food/nutrition, e.g. snacks, sweets, fizzy drinks and planned, balanced meals?
13. What behaviour/developmental stages might you expect from a six to ten month old and a two year old?
14. How would you stimulate their development?
15. What would you do if:
a. Jenny was at nursery and John was taken seriously ill?
b. The children are playing in the garden and John requires a nappy change?
c. Both children need a bath? How would you manage bathtime?
d. At bathtime you find a bruise/injury on one of the children that you were not previously aware of?
e. You found yourself getting stressed by your job?
16. Do you have any questions?
Call your best candidates (or your favoured one) back for a second interview. Give them a chance to spend some time with your children, to go through the finer details and any outstanding questions, and to get a feel for how they will work with your children.
When you have chosen your nanny, make sure you offer her the job subject to the checking of references. It’s best to phone the referees (ask them if they have five minutes now or when a suitable time to call back might be). You’ll learn more in five minutes on the phone than in a one-page letter. Contact other applicants and let them know that they were not successful this time.