Interviewing

Be prepared! Compile a list of the usual questions in advance. Include such questions as experience, schooling, availability after hours and on weekends, salary history, and need for accommodations. Assess the age and family situation of the applicant according to your personal needs (are you prepared to provide accommodations for just one, a whole family or no one?).

Give the applicant ample opportunity to elaborate, to give more than yes-or-no answers, and to ask questions of you. This gives you a chance to judge his/her communication skills and personality.

Involve the whole family when interviewing nannies, consider having one or all of your children at the interview simply to see what initiative the candidate takes in interacting with them. Your children will often be able to tell you very quickly whether or not they like a particular person.

 

Present a scenario

Try posing a hypothetical, but very likely scenario to your applicant and ask what the person would do in such a situation. For instance, give the age(s) of your child(ren) and ask what the potential nanny would do with them while you are away from home for several hours. The ones who give the most specifics and show the most imagination score highest. Another good question would be to give a possible emergency situation and ask the applicant how s/he would respond.

For cooks, give a scenario where you call from work at 10am to say that you are bringing some colleagues home for lunch; what would s/he prepare at such short notice? Ask the candidate for a couple of menus of three or four courses to see if s/he understands the concept of balanced meals.

 

Be alert to communication skills.

Good communication skills are essential because the person you hire will receive verbal, and perhaps written, instructions from you daily, interact with your children, answer the phone, take messages, tell you what happened during the day, contact you or others in case of an emergency, and read directions on packages and containers.

A cook must know how to read in order to prepare a variety of meals without your immediate supervision and instruction.

Gauge your personal feelings about the candidate. The personal chemistry between you, your family, and your help is very important. Don't hesitate to reject an otherwise good candidate just because you don't like his/her vibes. You will be spending a lot of time with them in your personal space, so you should be comfortable with each other. Similarly, be aware of what qualities, intangible though they may be, that you value (e.g., cheerfulness, trustworthiness, initiative, or common sense). Be on the lookout for indications whether applicants possess these qualities.