Honestly, I started looking for a nanny while I was still pregnant. But (surprise, surprise!) most nannies are interviewing for positions where the baby is born already … rookie mom moment on my part, for sure!
My early search was largely based on how anxious I was feeling about a nanny: Would my child be well taken care of? Would I find the right person? Where did I even begin to look?
When my monkey mind started looping a “you don’t even know where to begin” thought pattern, I decided to take a step back. I may not have hired a nanny before, but I DID have experience with the hiring process that had worked for me in the past.
So, I adapted my system for hiring a VA to find a nanny. The 5 steps I used there were tweaked to find a nanny.
1. Identifying my ideal schedule & budget
Even though you may not have a strict schedule you need to get back to work, come up with a structure that you can use to hire. I knew that I wanted to gradually get back into work, so I needed someone who would have the flexibility to start at 2 half days a week, then scale up to 3, and eventually 4 days. I had an idea of how much I could spend monthly, so I reverse engineered that to come up with an hourly rate.
2. Creating a detailed job description
After step 1, I had the basic skeleton of a job description, and I simply fleshed out the major requirements with a bit more description of personality, the work environment (our home) and our own personal preferences. I specified how much experience I wanted someone to have, and the types of baby-related duties I expected in addition to childcare (like basic clean up, laundry, etc).
3. Sharing the description with a select group of individuals who could give referrals
I reached out to friends who had recently transitioned their kids into preschool but who previously had nannies, as well as put out a call in a small local Facebook group for moms. Finding others who have recently tackled the hiring a nanny challenge is a route I highly recommend because they usually have their own lessons learned fresh in their mind and can give you specific guidance on who may be available.
Moreover, gathering candidates through the referral process, as opposed to putting a general call out or using groups or other online sites, made me feel more comfortable because I trusted the references and could talk candidly to people who have worked with them before.
4. Interviewing top 3 candidates
I used a pretty informal interview process, but did ask about their experience with a number of specific topics:
- Breastmilk/bottle prep
- Their transportation (especially if they will be driving with baby anywhere)
- Communication style
- Childrearing values and style
- Child safety and health
I also asked about what baby-related tasks they could help with while the baby slept: laundering baby clothes, diapers (we did cloth), washing/sterilizing bottles if pumping, baby food prep, picking up toys.
I also found it helpful to go through some “what if” scenarios. What if nanny gets sick? What will be the calling in sick protocol? What if the baby is sick? What if I have a meeting that starts right at her start time? Could she be flexible in coming 15 minutes earlier?
5. Doing test days/tasks with those who did well in the interview and hiring.
The best thing I did was test days. After interviews, I had 2 candidates I really liked so I paid them for a short 4 hour test day where I was actively observing (not in a creepy way, I was in my office, but paying close attention).
I knew what my decision was right away after those test days.