How to Ace Your Interview: Ten Tips
So, youíve landed an interview with a family for a nanny job that sounds perfect for you. What can you do to prepare? Here are ten essential to-dos:
1. Stay safe.
Because nanny interviews are usually conducted in a private home, rather than in a public place such as an office, itís important to take safety precautions. Consider asking for an initial meeting in a public place such as a quiet coffee shop. Ask for references from the family before you meet them and follow up with a phone call to each reference. For a small fee, you can also run a background check on one or both parents.
Make sure you let a family member or friend know when and where the interview is taking place, and that youíll check in with them when itís over.
Finally, if anything makes you uncomfortable during the preliminary phone calls to arrange the interview, cancel the appointment. Itís not worth risking your safety to continue the application process.
2. Do your homework.
Prepare for the interview Ė and make sure the job is what youíre looking for Ė by getting answers to a few basic questions:
What is the start date for the job? What are the hours? Will they be the same every week, or will there be nights when youíll be expected to stay late? Is the salary within your general ballpark? (Donít worry if itís just a little on the low side, as you may be able to negotiate a higher salary during your second interview.) How many children does the family have, and what are their ages? Will you be expected to do any cooking or cleaning in addition to childcare? If you donít own a car, is public transportation available to take you to the familyís home, and is the schedule compatible with the job?
Finally, collect a list of references to provide the family, and call your references ahead of time to let them know they may be hearing from your prospective employer.
3. Be on time.
Parents will count on you to arrive for your job promptly every day. You can show them that you can keep to a schedule, and that youíll be respectful of their time, by arriving on time for your interview.
4. Dress the part.
As a nanny, youíll be a role model for the children you care for, and youíll need a kid-friendly wardrobe. For your interview, choose an outfit that looks neat and professional, but thatís comfortable enough to wear while playing with children.
5. Bring the right documents.
Youíll impress the family with your preparedness and professionalism if you come to the interview prepared with your driverís license, any certifications you may have (for example, Red Cross CPR), a copy of your current resume, letters of recommendation, and a copy of the job description.
6. Be prepared to answer questions.
Itís impossible to predict every question that will come your way during an interview, but be prepared for some of the most common questions families ask:
Where were you employed previously, and why did that job end? What is the most challenging child care situation youíve found yourself in, and how did you cope with it? Have you ever had to deal with a medical emergency, and if so, what did you do? What do you enjoy most about working with children? What would you do if my child hit another child, or if another child hit my child? How do you discipline children? What are your views on childhood nutrition? Setting limits on television? Have you ever felt unmotivated to do a job? How do you spend your free time?
A nanny job is like no other, and the questions families ask prospective nannies in interviews are, quite reasonably, often much more personal than those that would be appropriate in an interview for an office or retain job. Be positive and truthful in your answers. If youíre asked a question that you donít feel comfortable answering, just say so politely.
Remember, too, that many parents are uncomfortable conducting interviews. The situation may be as unfamiliar to them as it is to you. Help the conversation along by elaborating on your answers if needed.
7. Be prepared to ask questions.
Make sure you understand the job requirements, including whether youíll be expected to help with cooking and cleaning. Find out about the children youíll be caring for. What are their interests? Do they have any special medical or behavioral challenges? How do the parents discipline the children?
8. And know what not to ask.
Questions about salary, taxes, and insurance, as well as accommodations for live-in nannies are usually left for the second interview.
9. Show an interest in the children.
If the children are present during the interview, make an effort to play or talk with them. Youíll show the parents that youíre genuinely interested in the children and well-suited to the job.
10. Follow up right away.
Send a note as soon as possible after the interview to thank the family for their interest and to explain why you think youíre the right person for the job. If you promised additional information, such as a school transcript, during the interview, include it with your note.