4 steps to finding the perfect nanny

Written by: Sarah Davis

In today's economy, many households have two working parents. That's where a nanny comes in. But hiring a nanny to care for your little one can be an intimidating process. As a former nanny and the founder of nanny agency Olive.You.Nanny, I suggest these tips for finding the perfect nanny.

Step 1: Getting Started with Interviewing

When you’re armed with a clear understanding of how the interview process works, things can be MUCH easier.

  • Reach out to potential candidates to schedule an initial phone screening.
  • Have some standard interview questions prepared in advance. Check out the NPN discussion board and read this article about nanny interviews for tips on key questions to ask. Check in with friends/relatives who have hired nannies to gather questions they found useful. (Bonus: Olive.You.Nanny provides each family with a list of tried-and-true questions!)
  • If the nanny seems like a good fit for your family’s needs and is qualified, invite her to a local coffee shop to meet you. (Insider tip: I recommend that the initial screening is conducted in a public place—you never know who you’re meeting! However, if you’re working with an agency, you can skip this step because they will have already met the candidate.) 
  • Make sure you have a list of expectations and additional, more in-depth interview questions for the nanny to answer. Ideally, the nanny has some good questions for you, too.
  • If all goes well, the nanny can then be invited to your house for a second interview. This interview is more to see how the candidate interacts with your child/children. Make sure to take note of a few key things: Does she wash her hands before handling your baby? Is she excited to get on the floor and play with your toddler? Is her personality a good match with your family’s style and dynamics?

Step 2: The Reference Checks

You made it through the interviews! Now what? It's time for reference checks. 

  • Get a list of at least three childcare-related references. Make sure you request the last three families the candidate has worked for. Keep an eye out for a gap in employment. This usually means there was another family in there. (Insider tip: Nannies sometimes leave a position because it just wasn’t a good fit for them. This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but make sure she is honest about the situation.)
  • References have to be STELLAR. I talk to many references and find that great nannies have families who say nothing but amazing things about them. These nannies are out there; you just need to keep looking until you find them!
  • Conduct a background check. You never know what you might find out. 99% of the time it’s perfect, but your peace of mind makes this more than worth it.

Step 3: Extending the Offer

How can you be sure this the right person for your family? My advice: It’s a gut feeling. As a mother, I think we all know who’s meant to be with our children. If you’re at all questioning yourself, then the candidate is not the right person. You want to be thinking and feeling, “Oh my goodness, I can’t imagine my life without this person!” (Insider tip: Make sure you talk about important topics like vacation, sick days and salary. It’s best to address these topics at the start of your relationship.)

Step 4: Keeping a Strong Relationship

Communication is really the key ingredient to making this relationship work.

  • Ask your nanny to make a log of what goes on during each day. That way, when you come home you can spend time with your family and look over the log later. A written recap of the day ensures that nothing will be missed in passing.
  • If you have an issue with your nanny, whether it be big or small, TELL HER! Something small like not picking up her water glass every day or forgetting to take out the trash, can still be bothersome. With open communication, you can both let the other know how things are going.
  • Conduct a scheduled review. It’s a good time to talk about anything that is on either of your minds. Nannies want to do a good job and that can only happen with strong communication. I suggest having a scheduled talk about every 6 months. Have it scheduled in advance so you don’t find yourself only wanting to meet when you have negative feedback.

Remember, finding the nanny of your dreams might not happen overnight! Don’t become discouraged—remember to stay positive and you’ll soon find the perfect person to complement your family.

Start searching for a nanny now with NPN's member-only Childcare Classifieds! Not an NPN member? Learn more about joining.

Related articles:

Why we chose a nanny over daycare

What to ask in a nanny interview

Starting a relationship with a nanny

The NPN blog gives voice to our members' thoughts about parenting in the city, and the views expressed don't necessarily reflect our own. Want to write for us? Email laura@npnparents.org with your topic ideas.


Posted on April 26, 2011 at 2:10 PM