Checking the References of your Nanny
I’ve mentioned this first point a couple of times before but it needs to be stressed again.
Quite often you will be given a contact number for a reference that is a cell-phone number. That’s fine to begin with but not only is this process designed to establish the candidate’s credentials but you also have to establish that the reference is who she says she is. You do that by getting his/her full name and address, your employer’s name and address (if she works outside the home), her home and work telephone number. You can nearly always check her out on Linkedin or other similar sites.
Be very careful with ‘same country’ references. I’m not saying they’re not valid but we generally have very little faith in them except when independently verified.
Always (as much as you can) speak to the Mom. Many nannies give husbands as references – can sometimes (not always) be an indication of a Mommy/Nanny issue. On the other hand sometimes the father has more interaction with the nanny because Mom works crazy hours.
If references don’t return your calls within 24 hours call the nanny to see if she knows whether they’re on vacation. Put the onus on the nanny to get these people to call you. A lack of response without cause nearly always suggests reluctance – not a good sign.
Ok, you’ve got the reference on the telephone what do you ask. Here are some important questions.
How did you hire her – ad, agency, and friend?
How long did she work for you – get dates?
Why and when did she leave?
How many kids did she take care of and what were their ages – especially important when you’re establishing newborn experience?
What was her typical day like – what was her schedule like?
Did she perform other duties aside from childcare, like light housekeeping or running errands?
What did you like most about her – what were her strengths?
Where did you feel she could have improved?
Did you ever try to get her to improve – how did she respond to your suggestions?
Any disagreements with her and a parent?
Does she follow instructions easily and readily?
Does she act on her own initiative?
How did she disciple the children – time out?
How well does she communicate with you during or at the end of the day?
If your child had an accident how did she cope and communicate the incident to you?
Is she punctual?
Any health issues during the time she was with you – many sick days taken every year?
Any personal or family issues that interfered with her performance?
Does she smoke?
Does she stay in touch with your children since she left the job?
Where do you and your husband work?
Did you use a nanny cam?
Where do your children go to school? (This can often throw a fake reference)
This list while not exhaustive can generally give you a good sense of the nanny candidate’s experience at that job. It should also give you a good idea of the type and parenting style in the home.
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