Interviewing for new jobs can be hard, especially if you’ve got plenty to choose from. The proposals look great on paper but you know deep down that there’s got to be a catch. In the nanny life, uncovering that catch before you dive into full-time work with the family can be instrumental in determining whether you’ll be happy long-term. It’ll also help to properly clarify your job description and give you a better understanding of the family’s situation.
But how do you go about this? How do you chip away at the sugar-coating to see what lies beneath? How do you use the interviewing process to assess the family and choose the best job to suit your personality, experience, job requirements, and desires? How do you choose between the one with 4 kids under 12 who are offering sole-charge and autonomy or the family with 2 children under 5 plus a dog, 2 cats, and a bird who are offering significantly more money?
Over time, I believe I’ve perfected the art of interviewing with families. I’ve managed to seamlessly transition from one family to another and be perfectly happy whilst still on track with my long-term goals and career progression. I’ve done this by remembering these 4 key points, and by applying them tactfully during the interview process.
4 Key Points To Remember When Vetting Your Nanny Family
When first starting out in the job search, nannies often have two key ideals. As I’m sure you can agree, one ideal is to be the perfect nanny (whether your version of that is Mary Poppins, Mrs Doubtfire, a strict English governess or Annie from The Nanny Diaries). The other is to find the perfect future nanny family.
The first ideal is doable as it is in your power, given you’ve got the right blend of characteristics, charisma and charm to blend with the family. The second is not always so easy to find. It’s a search for perfection that is impossible to find.
With the potential for conflicting values, misrepresentation of expectations, errant children, differences in religious, spiritual and philosophical beliefs and a break down in communication all conspiring to ensure you’ll likely never find the perfect fairy tale family.
So what do you do? Rather than continuing to be disheartened when each family fails to work out, take matters into your own hands to find the next best alternative. Because even if “perfect” is unattainable, getting the “fit” right is still important to both employers and nannies. Working for the right family will ensure you feel valued, are respected, and successful in making a meaningful contribution.
Further Reading: What Kind Of Nanny Are You?
To make this happen, you should be vetting your future nanny families. Just as parents sift through the pile to select the best choice for their kids, you can follow these four key points to do the same.
1. How’s the ‘vibe’?
The interview process can usually be quite stiff and staged, making it difficult to observe natural interactions. But subtle observations and nuances of character will tell you a lot about the family and the potential work environment. So try to get a feel for whether your personality will blend well with the family. For example, take note of the feel of the rooms, furniture colours, layout and natural light. Also look for signs of a child friendly environment. Because if you’re likely to spend a large portion of your day confined within the house, you should make sure it leaves you feeling warm and comfortable.
2. Check out the appearance of the house
This is absolutely vital. If the house is a train wreck and you need a clean and tidy environment to function properly, take it as a heads up. Try to establish whether it’s a once off or simply their idea of ‘well organised’. If you think it’s going to be a recurring issue, one you’re not comfortable with facing every morning on the job, mark it as a big “proceed with caution”.
3. What are the parenting techniques and philosophies towards child rearing?
It’s essential you suss out the parenting techniques and the attitude towards the children’s lifestyle. In particular, find out their stance on discipline, expectations of chores and responsibilities, involvement in extra curricular activities and interaction with other siblings. Plus, if you’re skilled in the art of tactful conversation, it’s also good to carefully distinguish whether the parents present a united front in mutual agreement of these.
4. Assess the children’s behaviour
Parents will often give you the option to spend some individual time with the kids during the interview process. Usually it comes about because the kids are excited to show you their bedrooms, toys, craft projects or family pets. Use this as an opportunity to gauge how the children act in their home environments. Watch for a display of manners, appropriately developed social skills, dangerous sibling rivalry, any eye raising bad habits and for how they interact with you as a potential friend and leader. Whilst generally everyone is on their best behaviour, it can sometimes be a subtle warning flag to the extent that the parent’s perception of reality differs from actuality.
Do you normally vet your future nanny family? Do you enjoy the interview process? For both employees and employers, what key points do you look for to confirm that candidates will be the “right fit”?
A version of this post appeared on Precious Peeps. Contributed by Hope, of Nanny Shecando.