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Monday, February 15, 2010

Interviewing Red Flags

by Glenda Propst, Regarding Nannies Development Team

Last week we talked about “Surviving a Bad Reference”
The week we are going to talk about Interview RED Flags:

If you are a new nanny just starting out you might not know these, and if you are a seasoned nanny back on the job search you might need a refresher course.

Sometimes there might only be one red flag in your interview, but you need to pay attention. First of all, ideally; both parents should participate in the interview. It is a good idea if the nanny meets only the parents at the first interview. If that first interview goes well, then the children can be present for the second interview.
And they're off ....
Red Flag: If the parents only want to do one interview and do not want to do a follow up interview or a family meeting.
Red Flag: If the parents don’t want to do a trial period.
Red Flag: If they don’t want to talk about money until they hire you but promise you a great wage.
Red Flag: If they don’t want to with hold taxes.
Red Flag: Interviewing with the assistant and never meeting the parents.
Red Flag: Both parents are not present for all or at least part of the interview.
Red Flag: One or both parents seem uninterested or uninvolved with their child.
Red Flag: One or both parents don’t know details about their child - schedule, favorite foods, books, activities, abilities etc.
Red Flag: If the child hits the parent during the interview and the parents do not do anything about it, this is a pretty good indication of who is in charge.
Red Flag: Parent gives child junk food constantly during interview.
Red Flag: If the family pet is being a nuisance (jumping up on you, or barking and the parents ignore it).
Red Flag: While one parent is giving a house tour and other parent who is supposed to be watching child leaves child alone in dangerous situation.

Caution: Debris ahead!
Red Flag: If you go to the interview and the house is a wreck, don’t take this as a sign that they really need a nanny. Take this as a sign that they need a housekeeper.
Red Flag: Parents dirty, child dirty.
Red Flag: No family photos displayed
Red Flag: House is not appropriately baby proofed.
Red Flag: When parents give you a tour of the house and every room has a TV and every TV is on even though no one is in the room.
Final lap ...
Red Flag: The parents aren't asking questions about YOU, your past, the present, your skills, your areas of expertise. They just want to tell you about the job and hire you on the spot.
Red Flag: Parents are in too big a hurry to hire you.
Red Flag: When you bring up a contract and the family seems uninterested or says “Oh sure” we will do that after you start.
Red Flag: If they don’t want to check your references, or say “Oh we will just take your word for it”
Red Flag: If they have a history of going through lots of nannies
Red Flag: If they bad mouth their previous nannies or only want to talk about negative experiences.
Red Flag: If they refuse to let you talk to the current or previous nanny.
One last thing: We recommend that you always use a reputable agency when searching for a job.
It gives you one more one way to have someone advocating for you and what you are looking for, but it also gives you one more source of support in looking for red flags.
Regardless of how you search for a job, always let someone else know when you are going on an interview and to be on the safe side, always be sure that someone knows the address of where you are going to be.
So, what are your Red Flags? While these are all good indicators, and come from years of combined experiences, diligence and professionalism are a must when interviewing families. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask to speak to a former nanny, ask for references. Make sure you see where your room/bathroom will be, if a live-in.

All of these come into play when finding the right job, the right family and being happy in your career.

Special thanks to Andrea Flagg, Andrea Brocklesby and Buffi Gentry for helping with this article.


Best Nanny Newsletter February 15, 2010 at 10:10 AM  

Great article Glenda and team!! There is a sitter talking about a racist father on my blog and I wonder what red flags we would find in the interview to spot a racist ahead of time!
Steph F

janet March 2, 2010 at 4:42 PM  

Many parents become overwhelmed when recruiting and screening nannies. Often this leads them to rely on a stereotypical idea of what makes the perfect nanny. But even though Mary Poppins may seem to have a lot to offer, parents require more that a spoon full of sugar and a song to meet their expectations.
Although the recruiting and selection process can seem complicated, it is manageable when you break it into these smaller stages: telephone screening, resume review and the interview process.

For more information and helpful tips please go to

Janet MacDonald

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