You trust your nanny with the most important treasures in your life, so ask these questions to ensure that your kids are in safe hands.
01. What’s your highest level of education, and do you have any special skills?
If you want someone with a master’s degree in education, say so—and then check the credentials. “You’d be amazed at the number of people who tell me they have a college degree when they don’t,” says Daryl Camarillo, president of the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies. Some families seek a nanny with special skills, such as the ability to play a musical instrument. Fine—but don’t obsess over a candidate’s areas of expertise, says Katie Vaughan, founder of California-based Westside Nannies. “The most important thing to hire for is attitude.”
02. Will you sign a confidentiality agreement and submit to a background check?
“A family doesn’t want their personal situations discussed with people outside the home,” says Susan Tokayer, co-president of the International Nanny Association. A confidentiality agreement is a must. Pre-employment screening should include a criminal background check, drug screening and checks of driving records, credit history, social security, CPR certification, employment and more.
03. If somebody tried to snatch or attack the children, what would you do?
Your nanny doesn’t need a black belt in karate, but a comfort level with security issues is important. If the family uses a security detail, the nanny should know how to work with the driver, bodyguard, etc.
04. I want my kids to be bilingual. Can you teach them Mandarin?
The world is shrinking, so parents want nannies who speak at least two languages. Cliff Greenhouse, president of the Pavillion Agency, says his firm is working on finding people who speak Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. However, the lack of a foreign language shouldn’t be a deal breaker. If language education is that important to you, consider tutors.
05. Are you comfortable with cameras?
Most applicants expect parents to use a nanny cam, but secretly spying on a nanny usually breeds distrust. “The nanny should be informed if she’s being filmed,” explains Tokayer.
06. How much are you willing to travel?
If a nanny will be on a yacht off the south of France for months, be sure she’s prepared. “What are their tricks for traveling with children?” asks Vaughan.
07. Why did your previous position end?
Maybe the family moved or the kids grew up. But a history of conflict is likely to repeat.
08. Are you tech-savvy?
“Many clients want nannies to send photos via text or email, and they want to communicate by computer or smartphone,” says Camarillo. “Some also want a nanny to research things online, sign kids up for classes and help with travel arrangements.”
09. What are your salary expectations?
A recent New York Times article profiled a nanny who earned $180,000 annually, plus a holiday bonus and living accommodations. “Nannies don’t usually make $200,000 a year, even in affluent families,” says Tokayer. A more realistic salary would be $80,000 to $100,000, and many nannies make considerably less. But pay them on the books; it’s a good idea for everyone involved.
10. Why did you become a nanny?
“I’ve met nannies who only want to work for affluent families,” says Tokayer. “You want the nanny who is doing this because she loves working with children.”
For more information, contact: Daryl Camarillo, Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, firstname.lastname@example.org, 650.462.4580, theapna.org; Cliff Greenhouse, Pavilion Agency, email@example.com, 212.889.6609, pavilionagency.com; Susan Tokayer, International Nanny Association, firstname.lastname@example.org, 914.674.8535, nanny.org, Katie Vaughan, Westside Nannies, email@example.com, 310.359.5300, westsidenannies.com
This article originally appeared in the October/November 2012 issue of Worth.