Nanny Screening Tips

Read these 18 Nanny Screening Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Nanny tips and hundreds of other topics.

Nanny Screening Tips has been rated 0.7 out of 5 based on 20 ratings and 1 user reviews.
Is it okay to use a nanny cam?

Justifying the Nanny Cam

Whether or not you decide to try out a nanny spy camera depends on how much you trust the nanny you just hired, how old your children are, and if this is the first time you've ever left your children with someone other than family. It's important to ask yourself some soul-searching questions before going the route of a nanny cam:

  • Are you planning on using a nanny cam just for a few weeks until you feel certain that all is well on the home front?
  • How critical do you think you'll be when you see your nanny in action? Just because she does things differently than you would do, doesn't mean she's doing something wrong.
  • Where would you put the nanny cam in your home?
Yes, it's justifiable to want to protect your children anyway you can and for some people, that means using a nanny cam as added security. Sometimes we have to be brutally honest with ourselves. If the nanny cam becomes your obsession, maybe you're not ready to leave your kids with a nanny at all. On the other hand, maybe your plan is to use the nanny cam for a week or so just to put your mind at ease.

What's the best way to work on my nanny skills?

Building Nanny Skills On Everyday Experience

If you're just beginning your career as a professional nanny, there are a few nanny skills you can work on now, before you even being your new job. As you perfect these nanny skills, make note of them, even write them down if you have to. The goal is to have a really good understanding of your strengths before you begin answering nanny interview questions. For example:

1) Practice patience. Are you the kind of person who goes bonkers in a traffic jam or loses it when the clerk at the coffee shop gives you two sugars instead of one? The same triggers in everyday life are going to present themselves to you in the home, so now is a good time to practice patience.

2) It's easy to write “excellent organizational skills” on your nanny resume, but can you back it up with facts? When's the last time you did something that required a high degree of organization? Forget about the time you cleaned out your closet and think about times when you may have coordinated a committee, volunteered as a sports coach, or lead a team of girl guides.

3) The next time you find yourself in a noisy, crowded, busy place, pay attention to how you handle the feeling. Hopefully your nanny experience won't always be like that, but it's important to understand how you handle noisy, crowded situations. Are you able to keep a clear head or do you become anxious? An important nanny skill to build on is the ability to remain in control during times like this.

You see? Everything you do and experience in everyday life is a nanny skill just waiting to be nurtured.

How do I convince my family that I'm not being overly paranoid by installing a nanny camera?

Nanny Jekyll and Nanny Hyde

Your friends and/or family might be surprised to discover you've decided to use hidden nanny cams. “We thought you liked the new nanny!” they might say. Well, that's true, you DO like the new nanny, but your penchant for outright paranoia is keeping you from putting your total trust in her. Everyone has seen way too many horror stories on the late night news. It's hard to relax. You don't want to be a psycho nanny boss, but you need to keep your children safe, even when you're not around.

Go ahead; be as paranoid as you want. The alternative (hiring an unemployed middle-aged man to sit in the tree outside the house with a pair of binoculars) would probably land you on CNN, in a bad way.

You know what they say…it's the quiet ones you've got to watch out for. What if the same thing holds true for nannies? What if it's the ultra-sweet, super educated, highly ethical-appearing nannies who turn out to be crazier than a coo-coo clock? Okay, the whole Jekyll and Hyde scenario might be a little extreme, but at least with a few strategically placed nanny cams, you'll know for sure. Once you've seen a few boring episodes of “The Nanny Opening a Can of Tuna” you'll be ready to pack up the nanny cams and stick them in a yard sale.

Is it possible to get a background check done on myself?

Conduct Your Own Background Checks

When a family is interested in hiring you as their new nanny, they'll likely want to conduct nanny background checks. Don't take it personally! If the tables were turned, you'd probably do the exact same thing. Besides, you have nothing to hide do you? Nanny background checks really aren't much different than the kind of screening done on teachers, coaches, people who'll be working with large sums of money, or any other position of authority. People just want to make sure they're making the right decision. More importantly, they want to make sure their children are going to be safe.

Even though you have nothing to hide, you might feel a little uneasy about the type of information the family is retrieving. If you want, you can go through the process of having your own criminal background check done. Nobody's suggesting you went on a three month drunk and forgot everything within that time frame. It's just that some people feel more reassured when the paperwork is right under their nose, even when it's about them. By having your own background check done, you'll at least know what kind of information the family is getting access to.

Can I use a nanny camera for the duration of the nanny's probationary period?

New Nanny Probationary Period

To tell or not to tell, that is the question. For some people, it might not make sense to tell the nanny that there's a nanny cam in the house. However, that doesn't mean you have to tell her where they are, or when you'll have them turned on. Rather than being a secretive spy, talk to your nanny about the fact that you'll be periodically doing nanny cam checks. To follow up, you could have monthly meetings with the nanny to say “job well done!” That's right; nanny cams don't have to be used primarily for negative feedback. It's not unusual for new office workers to have to complete a three month, six month, or one year probationary period, so why not negotiate the same kind of probationary period for your nanny? Since you won't be there watching everything the nanny does all day, installing a nanny camera is the next best thing.

Being open and honest about the fact that you're using a nanny camera (for the probationary period only) you'll show that you're an ethical employer and that you value your nanny's dignity. If the nanny has something to hide, she won't get as far as signing the contract, let alone allowing you to video record her!

Does it matter where I buy a nanny cam?

The Tale of an Ill-Gotten Nanny Cam

Helda Smackenburger was so nervous about leaving her two-year-old with a nanny that she decided to buy a nanny camera. Just browsing the malls for one instilled a certain amount of calm in her. She was certain she was doing the right thing. Sure there was a little nagging guilt about “spying” on the nanny, but when she weighed it against the chances of something terrible happening to her toddler, the guilt became justified.

She found the perfect nanny camera in a store that also happened to sell faux-fur handcuffs. Helda thought she was looking at 3 foot teddy bears, so imagine her surprise when the young sales clerk proudly played back the video of her pawing at it. Helda was sold. It was the perfect nanny cam! What Helda didn't take into consideration was the fact that her nanny had enough common sense to realize that a 3 foot teddy bear nailed to the kitchen countertop was a setup.

Now, that same teddy bear is missing his left eye. The nanny cam is floating in a sewage swamp somewhere and Helda is in the process of hiring a new nanny.

The moral of this story is…don't buy nanny cams from stores that sell faux fur handcuffs. If you're serious about installing a nanny camera, stick with high quality nanny cams purchased from reputable stores.

Where do I start shopping for a nanny camera?

Shopping for a Nanny Cam

There once was a mommy named Jan,

Who purchased a new nanny cam.

She bought it real cheap

from a man in a jeep,

Only to find out the thing was a scam.

Where are you shopping for your nanny camera? Do an Internet search and you're sure to find nanny cams at every virtual shop there is. Just because something has the label “nanny cam” doesn't mean you're getting what you pay for. If the Internet is your primary shopping mall, keep the following tips in mind so avoid falling for scams like poor Jan.

  • Shop with online retailers that you know. Major retailers who offer shopping in person and online are ideal.
  • Don't waste your money on extended warranties for nanny cameras. A good quality camera will come with a limited warranty anyway, which is often good enough.
  • Read shopper reviews. Keep in mind that it's not a fool-proof method, however, because it's possible the retailer only selects the good reviews to post on the site.
  • Never give out credit card information online or over-the-phone if you're not sure about the company.
  • Check and see if there are any return policies before buying.
Shopping for a nanny cam is no different than shopping for any other technical gadget. Stick with name brands you know, companies you trust, and seek advice if you're not sure what you're looking for.

What other way besides nanny cams can I check up on my kids during times when I'm at work?

It's Not All About the Nanny Cams

There are some definite pros to purchasing and using nanny cams in your home, especially if you're leaving a young child with a new nanny for the first time. They can help you flag warning signs of impending abuse (sudden outbursts of anger, inappropriate behavior, etc.) or catch the nanny involved in something you don't approve of.

However, the question remains, is it ethical to install hidden nanny cams in your home? There may actually be much better ways of keeping tabs on the nanny if you're feeling particularly nervous. Until you know the nanny a little more, have a friend, relative, or neighbor make random short visits to the house. Excuses for the visits could include anything from stopping by to pick something up, drop something off, or visit the kids (i.e., the grandparents)

It won't take long for the nanny to figure out what you're up to. However, you can rest assured that you'll get valuable feedback without having to violate someone's privacy.

Now, there are people out there who are going to be screaming, “Who cares about privacy? I'll do anything to protect my children.” Absolutely! But that should be why you conduct thorough reference checks and have all of the nanny background checks completed. If you have serious concerns about the nanny, address the issue right away, don't wait for a camera to paint a picture.

How do I create a winning nanny resume?

Nanny Resume Building

If it's time for you to build your nanny resume but you haven't attempted anything quite so professional in a long time, consider seeking out the help of an employment agency. You might be able to get help through online nanny placement agencies, or through other agencies geared specifically for nannies. However, you really don't need to seek out someone who works only with nannies. Any employment agency, career resource centre, or even the local library should have resources on how to build a winning resume. To help speed up the process, here's a little information on how to write an attention-getting nanny resume:

1) Your resume should have your name, address, and all contact information typed neatly at the top of the page.

2) Whichever style you choose, carry that same style thoughout the resume.

3) List your strongest nanny skills first. If you have more nanny experience than most, put that first. If you have a lot of education in your chosen field, put that one first.

4) Watch for spelling errors!

5) List as many references as you can that are not immediately family or close friends. Try to get good references from a few previous employers if you can.

It's important to present a well-written representation of yourself to get yourself to the stage of nanny interviews. Your online profile will help, but your resume is really what's going to make a big difference. Fill it with all of your skills, abilities, goals, education and experience.

How can I make sure I'm going to be working for a nice family?

Background Checks For Nannies

When you're hired to work as a nanny, it's important to remember that you're not there to judge the family, or try and change the way they do things. Unless there's a television crew, a quirky hat and cape, and a show called Supernanny, it's not your job to rehabilitate a family. Now, there are definitely some situations that will require more than average nanny skills. Some situations call for a cool head and common sense. Your nanny experience shouldn't involve verbal or physical abuse. If you feel ill-treated by your employer, you have a right to speak up. All employees, in any profession, are protected by basic human rights. Before you even get to the nanny interviews, review the labor laws for your area and know your rights and responsibilities before setting foot in the door.

Just as there are background checks for nannies, there are also background checks for families. Before accepting a nanny position, you have a right to ask the family for their own list of references. By contacting former nannies, neighbors, family, and friends of the family, you can get a sense of what kind of household you'll be working in. You might not be able to do anything about the boring nature shows the family insists the kids watch everyday, but you can control who you choose to work for.

How can I really present my nanny skills and strengths in a job interview?

Presenting Your Nanny Skills Through A Portfolio

Many educational institutions are now asking their students to create and maintain portfolios that can be used as a guide for showcasing skills, talent, awards, accomplishments, goals, challenges overcome, and long-term plans. Even if you didn't have the opportunity to create a portfolio before, it's not too late. Ultimately, you want to be able to accurately assess your skills and talents based on your life's experiences, not just your educational accomplishments.

Before you send out your nanny resume, take a day or two to piece together a simple portfolio. Your portfolio should include the following:

1) Copies of all certificates and diplomas.

2) A personal narrative describing something in your life that was a great challenge to you and how you handled it. Take the time to reflect on all of the strengths you used when handling this particular situation. The only person who is going to see this is you, so don't hold anything back. At the end of this exercise, before you begin answering any nanny interview questions, you want to be able to reflect back on the strengths you have used in the past to get through stressful situations.

3) Your updated nanny resume.

4) A few paragraphs detailing how you think others see you and why. Are you a loyal friend? What makes you think so? Can you give an example?

5) Goals. Do you want to work full-time as a nanny? Do you plan to return to university? What other things do you want to do with your life?

There's no right or wrong way to create a portfolio, but it's an excellent opportunity to spend a few days really reflecting on the kinds of nanny skills you possess. Remember that everything you've learned in life from the time you were a child are all skills you can bring to your job. Once you realize that, you'll be able to present yourself the best way possible during a job interview.

Should I chose a nanny with more skills or more experience?

Nanny Experience Versus Nanny Education

If you were faced with the prospect of hiring a nanny with a ton of experience but little related education, or a nanny with a degree in early childcare and no experience, who would you choose? Of course, the best situation would be to come across someone with a wealth of nanny experience along with impressive nanny skills. When conducting nanny interviews, gear your questions to help illuminate just how much experience versus education she has. For example:

  • Ask open-ended questions such as, “Tell me about your education.” This opens the lines of communication to include details about her educational experience, not just the name of the course she took.

  • Ask the nanny what her long-term educational plans are to get a sense of whether she plans on continuing to upgrade through courses and workshops.

  • One of the nanny interview questions should be, “Give me an example of when you've put your organizational skills to best use in a previous job.” Again, this is an open-ended question that leaves room for explanation. It also gives you some insight into how the nanny has handled situational dilemmas in the past.

  • To get an idea of the depth of her nanny experience, ask her to try and list at least five of her most meaningful experiences as a nanny. A person could have worked for ten years and not learned anything from the experience. What you want to do is try and get a sense of how much she's learned from the experience she has.

Using the nanny resume as a guide for dialogue, continue to ask the kinds of questions that really give you a picture of what her previous employment experiences were like. Those open-ended questions lure the applicant away from the rehearsed answers to answers that are more detailed and meaningful. Those are the answers that are going to help you decide if you want a nanny with more experience or a nanny with more skill, or something in between.

What does FCRA compliance mean?

FCRA Compliant Nanny Background Checks

Once the nanny interviews are complete, you'll want to conduct a pre-employment nanny background check. Why? To protect yourself negligent hiring issues, wrongful termination lawsuits, theft, etc. More importantly, you want to protect your children from harm. In recent years, the federal government issued stricter laws to protect the privacy of individuals seeking employment. For example, an employer can't just pick up the phone and start phoning agencies with questions on someone who's only met you once for a nanny interview. If you are able to contact an agency and get that kind of confidential information, you have to ask yourself just how accurate the information really is. A legitimate organization won't disclose information about their clients to potential employers.

This is where the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) comes into play. Once you're satisfied with the nanny resume, have interviewed the nanny, and want to make a job offer, it's time to start looking at conducting a nanny background check. The standards around FCRA compliance vary from state to state and specifically apply to external Consumer Reporting Agencies, including the services offered by nanny placement agencies. However, as an independent employer, you're still obliged to comply with FCRA standards. Confused yet? Forget about it! Instead of stressing over the nanny background checks, search for either a nanny placement agency, or an independent consumer reporting agency who sell guaranteed FCRA compliant background checks. Instead of sweating it yourself, let your wallet do the stressing. Depending on the services you choose, you might have to pay $100 to $300 for accurate, current, nanny screening. That one time fee can really buy you peace of mind when trying to comply with federal FCRA rules and regulations and might just save you from the hot seat of legal issues later on down the road.

What's the advantage of having a nanny placement agency conduct a nanny background check?

Taking Advantage Of Agency Nanny Screening

There are all kinds of reasons for hiring nannies through placement agencies, but one of the main ones is the ability to take advantage of their nanny screening services. Sure you're going to pay a fee for the service, but if you were to compensate yourself for the time, energy, and aggravation involved in doing it yourself, the money you'll pay a placement agency is a steal.

Just like any other service, you get what you pay for. That's no different when it comes to nanny screening or nanny background checks. For a basic fee package ranging anywhere from $50 to $120 dollars, the agency will conduct a nanny background check including a Social Security Number trace, seven year address verification, and a single county records check. More in-depth nanny screening options include criminal record checks (usually for just one jurisdiction), a run through the National Sex Offender Registry, a search for criminal records and a driver's license check. The more services you choose, the more you pay. Still, it's well worth having a nanny placement agency do all of the legwork while you prepare your home and family for the eventual arrival of a new nanny.

What things should I consider when conducting my own nanny background check?

DIY Nanny Background Checks

Before hiring a nanny, always conduct nanny background checks to make sure the nanny is legally allowed to work in the country, has no criminal record, has a good driving record, and has never been charged with child abuse. Contacting former employees will help illustrate whether the nanny has a good personality, is flexible, has a good work ethic, and is reliable, but it won't necessarily get to the bottom of any legal problems or issues.

If you're a do-it-yourself kind of person and want to do your own background checks for nannies, there are a few things you need to know:

1) Do a personal background check by contacting previous employers to find out why they hired this particular nanny in the first place, why she left their employment, how many children she was responsible for, etc.

2) Do a civil court check to see if the nanny has had any previous convictions or lawsuits filed against her.

3) Part of the nanny screening should always include a check into the Child Abuse Registry.

4) Make sure the nanny hasn't had any convictions for driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol.

5) And finally, make sure the nanny is who she says she is. You should never rely on the nanny resume to tell the whole story. Instead, make sure to contact all of the references listed. If the references are only close friends or family of the candidate, ask for more work-related references to get a clearer picture.

What are some Do's and Don'ts that I should know before interviewing a potential nanny?

Face To Face Nanny Interviews

If you already employ staff through your place of work, supervise employees, or have ever been on an interview panel, conducting nanny interviews may not be all that intimidating to you. However, if you're new to the whole business of nanny interviews, here are a few do's and don'ts to consider:

DO: Bring a copy of the interview questions for everyone involved in the interview, including the prospective nanny.

DO: Create questions that will help reveal nanny skills and nanny experience.

DO: Ask situational nanny interview questions that will help you understand how she would handle emergencies or last-minute routine changes.

DO: Meet in a public spot like a quiet restaurant or coffee shop.

DON'T: Ask illegal interview questions like the person's religion, age, or marital status.

DON'T: Be surprised if the nanny brings someone along for the interview. The candidate might do this as a safety precaution.

Before you start asking a lot of serious questions, try to make the nanny feel at ease and comfortable. Offer her tea, coffee, or water, engage in some light preliminary conversation and don't forget to smile! Before you begin the interview, explain to the candidate how the interview will go, the types of questions you're going to ask, and how you're going to record her answers (notes, tape, etc.) Let her know that you'll give her a chance to ask some questions of her own at the end of the interview.

What should I listen for when doing a nanny interview over the phone?

Conducting Nanny Interviews Over The Phone

There's no question that nanny interviews over the phone are a lot different than face-to-face interviews. For one thing, you don't get to see the person on the other end, making it sometimes hard to gauge reaction and response to certain questions. There's a certain connection you get when you meet someone in person, creating an instinctive feel as to whether the person might be “right” for the job.

Legally, you can't make your hiring decision based on how a person looks, so for that reason, conducting nanny interviews over the phone eliminates that possibility. When you do nanny interviews on the phone, you really have to listen to the responses to your questions, focusing solely on the quality of the interview, not the appearance of the interviewee. Here are a few guidelines to use when conducting nanny interviews over the phone:

1) A pause isn't a bad thing. Allow the nanny time to consider the questions within a reasonable amount of time.

2) Listen for a positive attitude. Does that nanny turn answers into sentences that start with “I don't..' or sentences that start with “I look forward to…”

3) If the candidate doesn't speak English as a first language, make sure she can communicate well enough to be understood.

4) Listen carefully as the candidate recites her nanny skills and nanny experience.

As you can tell, conducting nanny interviews over the phone put the onus on you to really hone your listening skills! Pay attention, take notes, and make the best decision for you and your family.

How can I ace the nanny interview?

Preparing For Nanny Interviews

After placing your profile with an online nanny placement agency, you lucked out and were contacted by what seems to be an awesome family. Now you have to face them in an interview and you're scared to death. It's normal to be nervous about answering those nanny interview questions, but if you take some time to rehearse, research, and plan ahead, you'll breeze right through and ace the job. Here are a few tips for keeping cool during nanny interviews:

1) Assuming you know the family's address, research the area where you'll be working. Are there playgrounds or recreational facilities near by. Use that kind of information at the interview. For example, if you're asked what types of activities you plan on doing with the kids, you can mention some of the top family-friendly spots that are virtually in the family's backyard.

2) Dress appropriately for an interview. A nanny's job doesn't require a three-piece suit, but wearing overly revealing or sloppy clothing won't leave the family with a good impression either.

3) Read over your nanny resume and bring a copy of it with you to the interview.

4) There's a good chance that one of the nanny interview questions will involve telling the family about yourself. Make this mental note: They don't care that you like to post jokes to Facebook. They're trying to picture you working in their home, looking after their children. If you like to cook, tell them about that. If you're athletic, tell the family about that as well.

Just remember as you answer those nanny interview questions that the family is ultimately trying to get a sense that you'll be the perfect nanny for them. Every answer you give should leave them with that impression.

Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Nanny Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!

Guru Spotlight
Candi Wingate