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What parents want

2014 June 17

I’m a mother of two trying to employ a nanny for the first time. I’ve done my research, I think what I’m offering is fair but I’m still finding it endlessly frustrating because nannies are making the same mistakes at interview time after time. So let me tell you what they are, and maybe how you can avoid them…

 

Pet peeve #1 : Rudeness

I know nannies aren’t businesspeople but it’s still polite and appropriate to shake someone’s hand when you meet them, exchange pleasantries, wait to be invited to take a seat and accept at least a glass of water even if you don’t plan to drink it. You might think you’re being direct but I find it rude. When you go to interview at someone’s house it’s much better to err on the side of politeness, even if it feels overformal. Let them make the first move.

 

Pet peeve #2: Nerves

Visible nerves are really offputting in a potential childcarer. Full body tremors, a quiet and quavering voice and monosyllabic answers do not inspire confidence and I really need to have confidence in you if I’m leaving you my children. If you are nervous, and many people are, be upfront about it at the start of the interview and steer the conversation towards a topic you find comfortable quickly. Spending the whole interview shaking like a leaf means I won’t be inviting you back.

 

Pet peeve #3: Winging it

By the time you meet me you have plenty of information about my children and where we live. I’m going to ask you at interview what you would do in a typical day. If you haven’t prepared an answer then I’m going to assume you’re either lazy or haven’t got the sense you were born with. Do your research and see this question coming.

 

Pet peeve #4: Being coy about other offers

I’m asking you about other interviews you have because a) I want to get a bead on whether you’ll take the job if I offer it and b) I need to know how quickly to arrange a second interview to meet the children. If you tell me you’re at second interview stage with another family then I’ll ask you honestly which you prefer and move to a second interview as quickly as possible, because I tend to do a first meeting in the evening when the children are in bed. If you tell me ‘no, nothing’ and then two days later when we’ve arranged to meet again send me a one line email saying you’ve found another family then I’m not going to be impressed, and you never know when our paths may cross again. Lovely Nanny who was honest about us not being quite the full time job she was looking for has gained herself a new babysitting client.

 

Pet peeve #5: Badmouthing your current or ex-boss

I’ve saved the best til last. This one really gets up my nose and it doesn’t show you in a good light either. It’s fine to say that a job didn’t end well, but I don’t need dirty laundry aired in public. Exercise a little discretion and diplomacy and I’ll respect you all the more for it.

 

And if you’re interviewing for a 3 day job in South West London maybe I’ll see you on my doorstep soon.

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