We've hired foreign nannies, local nannies, older nannies, younger nannies. They've quit, they've been fired, things dissolved with mutual agreement. We've seen it all, and it's been crazy.
The market is so demanding for childcare that it's like buying a house at the peak of the market. You know that if you don't put an offer in right away, you'll lose the chance. So instead of finding the perfect person, you end up taking the first available. At least that's been our experience working with caregivers.
We finally have it right with our latest hire, but it has taken much trial and error to get there.
If you've ever been online dating, you know what it's like to try and find a nanny. You sign up for agencies and referral services and networking websites. You read profiles, backgrounds, resumes, and references. You trade a couple of emails, maybe do a Skype call, and then you have to decide. You go a lot on gut feeling.
You have to hire someone in good faith to come and live in your home and take care of your kids, expecting the same level of unconditional love you will offer. It's a demanding request. So what should you ask a nanny in that interview, and what do you need to consider when choosing a caregiver for your kids?
I chatted recently with Stephanie Breedlove, VP of Care.com HomePay, to get the insight on which interview questions to ask a nanny, and the steps to take after you hire your nanny.
1. Know what you want
"It starts with having a clear idea of what you're looking for," says Breedlove. "Write down your expectations and define the roll and duties."
This will help you in placing the ad, and finding the right people for your specific caregiving roll right away. Is there lots of housekeeping? Just looking after the kids? What hours will they keep? Will they be live in or live out? Spending some time to put it on paper first means you won't waste more time sorting through inappropriate candidates later.
2. More than just experience
"Make sure when you ask questions you're not just asking about their childcare background and experience," says Breedlove. "Talk about values that can connect a family to a childcare provider."
A resume can show how much experience someone has with kids, but can't tell you how they are with kids. Talk about values on religion, screen time, problem solving, nutrition. Try what-if scenarios to see if they understand how to react to situations. They need to be an extension of you. If you believe in time outs, and they believe in spanking, you need to understand that at the outset.
3. Best interview questions
This article from Helen Moon at the Huffington Post is, simply, the best resource of questions you could ask. It has questions about background, job duties, experience, and values. It's broken down by age specific concerns, and is dozens of questions long. You can find the 15 or 20 or more questions that are specific to your circumstance and make sure you find the caregiver you need.
4. Put it in writing
Breedlove says you should "end the process of hiring with a written agreement that puts everything in writing so everyone knows where they stand." Starting dates, wages, living arrangements, rules on child discipline -- lay it all out.
We may be a little lighter when hiring neighborhood babysitters, but when you hire a nanny, you need to come at it with an employer/employee attitude. You're the boss, your kids are the product, and the nanny is an employee in charge of that product.
You need to make it official and understood.
"When you hire a nanny and pay more than $1800/yr, you're a household employer," reminds Breedlove. "[You're] required to withhold payroll taxes and you're in charge of administering paperwork." Care.com HomePay runs paperwork for people and looks after withholding taxes, payroll taxes, and can help establish accounts with your state and IRS.
"It's a common practice to pay under the table," she admits. "But there's a moving trend to going over the table and getting on the books. people think it's too expensive or difficult, but with tax breaks and benefits that are available, you can go legit quite easily."You should expect to pay a live-in nanny anywhere from $12-$20/hour depending on your city and region.
-By Buzz Bishop