Job interviews typically feature a standard set of questions, yet these questions often aren’t that effective at truly gauging a candidate’s values and future conduct. Even seasoned HR professionals can find interviewing nanny candidates for their family to be uniquely stressful. The weight of ensuring the well-being of your child makes this process distinct and often more challenging. Consider utilizing some of the questions below. These questions help to illuminate your family’s needs, your potential employee’s needs, and whether your styles and expectations are well-suited for working together.



Start by reiterating the work schedule that you need. This is a cornerstone of the position.

    1. “We are seeking a nanny for [insert preferred length of time you need a nanny]. Do you have any preference of contract length?” If you have a young infant and hope the nanny will be with your family for the next several years, you can specify that the contract is a one-year agreement that can be renewed annually. Even when you and the nanny desire a commitment of two years or more, things could change in unforeseen ways. Trying to secure this commitment now is often not realistic.
    2. “We need a nanny for [days of the week/hours per week]. How many total hours do you want to work per week?”
    3. “We would like a nanny to start on _______. Are you available on or around this date?”
    4. “Do you have travel plans or pre-planned trips in the next 6 months that we need to know about for the schedule?”​

Nanny Duties.

Next, talk about the duties. The interview process is the time for everyone to be candid about their expectations and their limits.

    1. “Are you comfortable driving children to activities?” Driving is a common nanny duty and many nannies want to be able to take children to music classes, children’s museums, etc.
    2. It’s equally important to tell your candidates if there won’t be any driving or if you prefer that they stay near home. Although this will not be a fit for some nannies, you will find that others prefer not to drive children and align with your needs. “This position will not call for any driving, I’ll perform drop-off and pickup for any activities. So, we’re looking for a nanny who is comfortable with walkable activities, crafts at home, and playing around the house. Is this type of arrangement what you have in mind?”
    3. Go over childcare-related tasks you’ll want a nanny to perform, which may include your child’s laundry, vacuuming a playroom, sanitizing toys once a week, planning a weekly outing, stocking diaper bag, changing diaper pail bags, sorting seasonal clothes and clothes that no longer fit, etc. Confirm if the candidate is comfortable with tasks such as these.

Pets. Let the candidate know about any pets or livestock on your property, cats in particular. Some candidates may be allergic.

Asking about pet allergies is a detail that’s easy to forget.


    1. If you need help with general tasks like family dishes, grocery runs, family meal prep, parent laundry, or walking the dog, share this during the interview. These are family assistant tasks and usually call for an increased hourly rate.
    2. “Are you comfortable loading/unloading the dishwasher each afternoon as part of job duties?”
    3. “We could really use some help with family support and light tidying tasks but we don’t want our nanny to feel like a housekeeper. The tasks we need help with are [insert tasks]. Are there any tasks you do not feel comfortable doing as a nanny, or tasks you were asked to perform in the past and it made you uncomfortable?”​

These questions help to match styles, too. A nanny who loves organizing and tidying won’t be happy with a family who wants them to exclusively perform childcare. Vice versa if you really need someone who doesn’t mind taking out the trash and will make sure your laundry got switched over to the dryer, a nanny who exclusively performs childcare won’t enjoy that and won’t feel respected.


This is your chance to hear about your candidate’s expertise and their work style. These questions are particularly relevant for ages 0-3:

    1. “Our child is ____ months/years old. What activities do you enjoy doing with a child this age?”
    2. “What milestones or new developments do you usually look for around this age?”
    3. “What types of things would you recommend as age-appropriate learning activities for our child in the next 3 months?”
    4. If you need a nanny to prepare fresh baby food or cook fresh children’s meals, describe that now.
    5. For older kids: what types of activities do you think go over well with teens? How do approach conflict resolution or “pushback” with an elementary schooler or a teen? What do you like to do with kids who have outgrown the playground?


    1. Was there anything in particular about our family’s job posting that stood out for you, or sounded like a match for you?
    2. “What do you think a family can do to be a great employer to their nanny? What can your nanny family do to ensure that you feel respected and valued?” An interview is a mutual process; your candidate is assessing you as a potential employer in the same way that you are assessing them. Communicate to them that creating a healthy workplace is one of your priorities.
    3. “Overall, what will a great nanny job look like to you, this year?”
    4. As a final question: “Is there anything we didn’t cover, or do you have other questions for us?”


    1. “Are there any common safety hazards you find in family homes as a nanny, or any safety products you like to recommend?”
    2. “Can you tell us more about training you have with emergencies or urgent situations, and have you ever had to use it?” Not all nannies have experienced an emergency but they should be able to speak to their CPR/first aid training and the steps they would take. Most nannies have handled an urgent event such as a strange person around the playground, a child quickly coming down with a fever, the car got a flat tire while they were out, etc.
    3. “What steps would you take if a child hit their head?” Correct answers include check for uneven pupil dilation, notify the parent even if the bump seems minor, ice (or apply pressure if bleeding), and keep the child awake/conscious.
    4. “Have you ever had an experience where a parent’s instructions differed from what you thought was safe or appropriate, and if so what did you do?”
    5. “What do you think is a reasonable policy and expectation for cell phone use during work?” Excessive phone use is a distraction, however, a charged phone kept nearby is an important safety tool! You want to be able to easily reach your nanny.
    6. “What kinds of safety practices have you put in place for working with children, since the rise of COVID-19?” This question inquires about safety but does not pry into the candidate’s personal life and who they live with.
    7. For young infants: “Do you have TDAP booster or willing to get that? Annual flu shot or willing to get one?” You would pay the candidate for their time to complete these shots if having them is a job requirement.

Right now is the time to explain any affective needs, physical disabilities, emotional support needs, medical conditions, etc. that your child has. Do not minimize. This can be tough because the tasks associated with your child’s needs become routine for you and might seem simple. The candidate has not had that same daily experience, and initially these tasks might seem intense or complex.

Be honest if your child is currently hitting, kicking, biting, spitting, screaming, scratching, hair pulling, running out of the house without notice, hiding, experiencing explosive anger, etc. Omitting or minimizing these behaviors is not in your child’s best interest. Their caretaker needs to be aware of these behaviors and their triggers, and have the skills to respond calmly and keep your child safe. Additionally, nannies find it disrespectful for a parent to omit or minimize this information during the interview. They will see the full extent of behaviors after they accept the job and the surprise will harm your working relationship. It is one of the top reasons that nannies resign.


This is often where candidates really light up and engage.☀️

    1. “Tell us about a positive moment with a child that has really stuck with you or is really special to you.”
    2. “Are there any favorite activities or learning games that you love to do as part of your childcare work?” Many nannies have a super fun activity, a favorite park or museum, or a meaningful life skill they wish to impart to each child.
    3. “What do you most want to contribute to a family, or when did you feel like you really made an amazing difference as a nanny?”
    4. “What do you think are 1 or 2 of the top challenges of being a nanny are, and how do you handle those?”
    5. “Have you ever had a moment that you felt like you failed a child or you made a significant mistake, and what did you learn from that experience?”
    6. “Have you ever experienced that “stuck in the house” feeling as a nanny, or like the work had become repetitive and wasn’t fulfilling anymore? If so, what did you do?”
    7. “How do you approach discipline or redirection as a nanny?” Nannies often have a wide variety of experience with behavioral redirection techniques, consequences, Love & Logic, gentle parenting, time outs, etc. It’s important that your expectations and the nanny’s style match when it comes to discipline. For example, a gentle parenting household is unlikely to jive with and a nanny who uses time outs.


You will need to check in with your nanny in a regular and predicable way, communicate about tasks to be completed, and be honest when you need them to do something differently. Ask your candidates about their communication style:

  • Do they prefer to do a daily debriefing, in-person, each afternoon before they clock out?
  • A written log or note that you can review later? An app?
  • Meet once a week?

What would work best for you? What would the candidate prefer? This tells you more about your candidate’s style and their ability to have challenging conversations.


You want pay and benefits to be clear. Avoid vague phrases such as, “pay negotiable for the right person,” “competitive pay based on experience,” or “benefits possible/TBD.” Ask yourself — would you spend much time trying to get a job, without knowing its pay range or benefits?

  1. “Our pay rate range is $__ to $__ per hour. Do you have any questions about the pay range?”
  2. We offer the following benefits: [list your benefits]. Are there any benefits that are particularly important to you, or any benefits you would like to negotiate?”
  3. “We plan to use legal payroll with a W-2, and pay our employer taxes. Do you have questions about using payroll?”

Parents discuss childcare with a candidate while sitting at table in their home.


    1. “So tell us about yourself.” While this isn’t the worst way to start, it’s bland and it isn’t a meaningful use of your time. Good candidates will have read your family’s information and they will be prepared to ask you some more detailed questions. They hope that you have read their resume and have some questions for them, too.
    2. If you and the candidate seem like instant BFFs, stay on track with gathering information you need and asking key questions. Sometimes a match seems so magical, both parties forget to ask enough questions. This can create issues or disappointment later on.
    3. Avoid commenting on shortcomings or flaws of a prior nanny. This is a red flag. Frame things in terms of the skills your nanny needs to have, rather than the skills that your last nanny failed to have.
    4. Avoid making comments about shortcomings or flaws of your child’s other parent. This is a red flag.
    5. “Why should we hire you?” This is outdated and condescending.
    6. “Is there any wiggle room on your hourly rate?” If a candidate’s hourly rate is not in your budget, share that before the interview. Be direct by stating the rate you can afford to pay. Doing this before the interview demonstrates that you are a good communicator and you respect the candidate’s time. Once you schedule an interview with a candidate, the candidate makes the reasonable assumption that you’ve considered their hourly rate and you would be willing to pay it.
    7. “Are you flexible about start and end times?” Instead, be a little more specific by telling the candidate about what you need. Do you often end up staying 45 minutes later at work? Does your schedule change each month? Are you a surgeon who could have a schedule change the night before? Tell the candidate. Offer guaranteed hours to ensure that their paycheck remains stable regardless of changes to your schedule. Candidates often perceive vague questions about “flexibility” as a sign that the parent might be chronically late, or might change their work schedule without notice.
    8. “Are you ok with planning your vacations around our vacation dates?” Ask yourself — would you base your family’s vacation on when your boss takes a vacation? No one wants to do that. That said, do share during the interview if there are blackout dates for taking time off. Example, you attend a work conference every year and you absolutely must have childcare at that time.

List professional benefits only in your job posting. Leave out jokes such as, “The benefits include working with two great kids!” Applicants often perceive this as a sign that the parent may not think that benefits are important for a nanny. Working with kids is definitely a joy but it’s not a job benefit – it’s the job. Imagine that you are an attorney applying to an opening at a law firm and the benefits section includes, “Working at a great law firm and practicing law!” What would you think of that statement?

Questions about an applicant’s personal life are not appropriate for any job interview. Examples of inappropriate questions:

  • “Are you married?”
  • “Who do you live with?”
  • “How old are you?”
  • “What does your spouse/partner do?”
  • “Are you religious?”
  • “Do you want kids?”
  • “Are you planning to start a family in the next year?”​
  • Does anyone in your family have a criminal record?

An applicant’s personal life is not an employer’s business, even when hiring a nanny. These types of questions often indicate to candidates that the parent may lack appropriate boundaries, or may not understand how to be an employer.

In closing, it’s clear that finding the right nanny goes beyond just asking the usual interview questions. Details matter in finding a proper match, as does professionalism from both sides. More than just hiring someone to watch the kids, it’s about establishing a partner in childcare who understands and respects your family’s needs and values. Similarly, for the nanny, it’s about finding a work environment where they feel comfortable and respected, and where they can thrive professionally. Here’s to finding a wonderful nanny who integrates well into your family’s life, and delights in their time with your child!