The preliminary and initial interview for your prospective Nanny or Au Pair is one of the pillars of the foundation of your future arrangement with whom you will entrust your most precious jewels. This and secondary interviews will establish the framework for expectations and guidance for acceptable operational standards and protocols within your family structure. It may also determine whether or not you utilize a Background Investigation or a Screening Service for your needs.
Many parents new to questioning aspects, tactics, techniques and etiquette when first entering this new realm may ask themselves, “What questions can I or should I even ask?” “Should I have a Nanny Background Investigation done?”, “Or a Screening check completed or simply ask questions myself?” The answer to all of these questions is, YES, YES and YES!!
There are many competent sites and blogs with tips on what questions to ask during an initial interview including tone and style. There are way too many questions to itemize or detail to list here or anywhere else for that matter. Of course there are initial basic questions you should cover, but from there, the multitude of questions may vary and always become contingent upon a particular response. Follow-up questions can be always addressed in secondary and tertiary interviews if your hiring process with that prospective Nanny or Au Pair continues. Some examples of initial basic but primary questions are detailed at:
In scheduling your first personal interview, it’s recommended the initial meeting always be located in a neutral place, preferably public to capitalize on the safety aspect for all involved parties (you as well as the prospective Nanny or Au Pair). If it’s not possible to have someone accompany you on the initial meeting, follow these guidelines for setting up and scheduling your first meet and greet. Also remember that your child or children should not be present until your prospective Nanny or Au Pair has been minimally vetted and you are comfortable with their qualifications, demeanor and suitability. Setting up scheduling should be accomplished telephonically to allow that “first gauging” of feeling each other out. Trust your gut and intuition. If anything makes you uncomfortable during that first call, cancel the appointment. It’s not worth risking your safety.
Your questions for the initial meeting should already be prepared; general at first, and then to the point with specificity. The meeting can last for moderate duration if needed, but it should be made clear that this is only the first of at least several interviews that will be conducted and probably not just by yourself EVEN, if that is to be the case. Be polite with a relaxed state of mind and be as observant as possible. Make mental notes of the individual’s demeanor, articulation and the response time to your questions. Is eye contact maintained? Is the body upright and open? You should be able to gauge if your prospective Nanny is experienced and be willing for further scrutiny both at your personal level and at a professional level with a potential background investigation. When leaving, a second interview should be scheduled as a follow-up. As safety for all parties is of always paramount importance, the location and time of any public meeting should always be shared with other family members and they should be contacted as soon as the meeting is over and once you have safely returned.
Finally, before departing if not already done so, collect a list of the prospective Nanny or Au Pair’s basic pedigree information you or your professional service will need to begin at least a basic screening process. Make sure you are provided not only with some recommendations or referrals but with some information that can be corroborated such as the last employer, education and professional licenses if any. Pedigree information includes at least a person’s full name, date of birth, social security number, residential address, place of birth, parents name and telephone number. The next meeting should be set for a business location such as an office.
A current, short article of value,”How to Find A Baby Sitter”by Cristin Howard in Smart Parent Advice may be found here https://smartparentadvice.com/find-a-babysitter/
A book, Secrets of the NANNY WHISPERER, first edition 2015 by Tammy Gold is “A Practical Guide For Finding and Achieving the Gold Standard of Care for Your Child” and is an encyclopedia of knowledge in this regard.
To qualify the difference between an Investigation and a Screening as it relates to a Background Investigation versus a Screening service; an Investigation is a formal systematic inspection and methodical inquiry and examination or research to assess suitability for a particular use or purpose, versus a Screening which is a superficial part of that process. Screening services routinely provide a superficial but detailed compilation of information from public records data bases on and relating to the queried target. The Background Investigation not only provides that, but entails additional information derived from the systematic inspection of that retrieved information as well as interviews of sources of information (SOI) including but not limited to referrals and recommendations and individuals uncovered from the review of that developed information.
There are considerations in making a decision to do a Background Investigation versus just utilizing a Screening service for a Nanny. How do you make that decision and what is right for you and your family? If you have never used a particular Nanny or Au Pair before, we are of the opinion that THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE some type of initial Background Investigation conducted, even if it’s a minimal one. References must always be checked with some type of interview. You cannot be careless with trust especially when it involves your children. You don’t want that untrustworthy, inexperienced or unprofessional Nanny, Au Pair or even a Baby Sitter for that matter that might get distracted or unfocused when they’re not supposed to be.
Further, when you have a Background Investigation conducted, you get the resources that come with a professional service that you don’t get access to with a Screening service. Those resources could be as complex as links through foreign affiliates or as simple and subtle as information retrieved from an applicant’s home visit. Clients are provided with a thorough investigation complete with that information they would have received with a Screening but, with interviews and follow-ups. Of course, these interviews don’t include your own which you should always conduct.
Many parents feel they know what questions they want to ask and what questions they want answered. There is an art to interviews and interrogations. Both are different, both are conducted differently and seasoned interviewers and interrogators will tell you that there are subtle methods that are employed in both methodologies that allow the questioner a perspective to capitalize on their tradecraft that ultimately benefit the clients. Not only do Background Investigations provide you the additional benefit of professional interviews of your Nanny’s or Au Pair’s referrals and recommendations but some security services may even provide further insight of their findings based on their experience conducting and evaluating similar investigations. This perspective enables you, the client, even greater capability in making hiring assessments. Screening services are usually deficient in this regard. Professional investigative services are often more affordable than grasped and the value certainly unrealized.
If a Nanny or Au Pair has been employed before and can provide results of a background check preferably within the past year of the initial interview, usually a screening from a service may suffice. Depending on what service you utilize and the information requested, the client is left to pursue and question all unexplored or unanswered avenues. Often, retrieved results may be difficult to interpret to the inexperienced viewer and the next steps may be uncertain. Having experience interpreting those types of results is imperative.
From a professional investigator’s strategic mindset, a practical approach to focusing the selection process may be viewed in increments:
1. Establishing a prioritized list of candidates (up to 5) based on
preferential qualitative characteristics you deem necessary (first)
and then preferable or desirable;
2. Telephonically interview these individuals and rank them in an order
based on their responses. Set up an initial personal interview with
each individual. Realize any interview can always be cancelled later
3. After all interviews are scheduled, re-prioritize your list based on
their telephonic responses and your intuition of the calls. You can
continue meeting with all candidates or you may at least want to
reschedule if not cancel, the last two in your re-prioritized list.
Continue with the personal interview process mindful of the prior
considerations in this article;
4. A Background Investigation or Screening for all applicants is not
necessary unless you’re financially viable and is not practical until
immediate consideration of the individual is at hand or forewarned.
Utilizing Background Investigations and Screening services towards the
end of your focused searches and prioritized lists during the process
is more practical, ordered and certainly economic.