Most families will call a nanny's references before hiring them. Try and check out at least two references related to the candidate’s past experience with children.
Put the reference at ease about your intentions. Be informal and friendly and ask for general information. If the parent has actually used the nanny/sitter, ask for the ages of the children, the frequency of care, and the usual length of the job.
If the reference has not seen the nanny with children ask for their opinion about how the candidate would be with children. Explain your situation, such as the ages of your children, frequency of care needed, and special considerations.
Questions about their work history
- How did you find/meet (name of nanny candidate)?
- How long did she work for you?
- Why did they leave?
- Do they ever still work for you?
- What was their hourly rate?
Questions about the nanny’s responsibilities
- What was a typical day like in your house for (name of nanny candidate)?
- Did they offer to go above and beyond?
- Did they keep the house clean?
- Did they ever have to manage household responsibilities (like a plumber stopping by), and did you feel comfortable leaving them in charge of those types of issues?
- If they stayed late, did they put the kids to bed on time?
- Did they do the kids’ laundry?
- What were some activities you may have asked them to coordinate for the kids, and how them she respond?
Questions about the nanny’s personality
- How would you describe (name of nanny candidate)?
- Can you give me an example of how they showed initiative to solve a problem with your child(ren)?
- Can you give me an example of how they were organized?
- How did they handle stressful situations?
- On a level of 1-10, how would you describe their energy level?
- Did you do the planning, or could you leave the daily activities in their hands?
- What types of games and activities did they plan for the kids?
- Did you feel comfortable talking with them about your concerns?
- How did they respond to constructive feedback?
- Did they ever show up late?
- Were they good at following house rules?
- Would you hire them back or refer them to a family member?
- How did you communicate about the week ahead?
- Were they flexible with last-minute changes?
- Could they come early/stay late when needed?
- How did you discuss issues that came up?
Nanny Share specific
If you're considering a nanny share, ask your nanny candidate for four references, have each family call two, and then deliberate together over what you learned.
- How were they at caring for the needs of more than one child?
- Can you give an example of a time when there was a lot of chaos, and how they handled it?
- How do you think they will respond to working with two different families, and their different needs and requests?