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Top 5 Interview questions to ask a potential nanny

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Ask open-ended questions

Once you’ve decided that a nanny is right for your family and you have potential candidates, it’s time to get down to the business of interviewing. Knowing what questions to ask and how to ask them can help you find the best fit for your family. We asked an expert and have the top five interview questions to ask a potential nanny.

Ask open-ended questions

Candi Wingate, president of, could find a well-qualified nanny in her sleep! We asked her to help us with the most important questions to ask a potential nanny candidate during an interview. Whatever you do, make sure to ask your potential nanny the following interview questions.

Ask open-ended questions"What is your past childcare experience?"

Ask the nanny candidate very specific questions after she gives you an overview of her past childcare experience, recommends Wingate.

Learn the ages of the children she cared for previously. There's a big difference between caring for an infant and caring for a tween. Also find out why she left each position. Does she job-hop a lot? If so, this could leave you in a childcare lurch. Conversely, if she was in positions for a few months at a time, perhaps they were short-term assignments.

>> Learn ways to save on childcare

Ask open-ended questions"How do you feel about…?"

Wingate stresses the importance of asking open-ended questions versus leading questions when interviewing a nanny candidate. It's easy to start talking, especially when we're discussing our kids! But it's best to ask a short question and then allow her to answer.

For example, Wingate notes that you should ask, "What method of discipline do you use?" versus "This is what we do for discipline…" By asking in this manner, you can determine whether your philosophies truly match instead of unintentionally leading her responses.

Ask open-ended questions"What are your salary expectations?"

Find out what the candidate expects for a salary. Wingate notes that this is another way to shorten your candidate list. If the nanny expects far more than you're able or willing to pay (assuming you're being reasonable), then there's no point in continuing the interview process to a second or third meeting. At the same time, if her expectations are out of your range, discuss this with her. Perhaps she's not aware of the going rate or she might be willing to negotiate.

Ask open-ended questions"Do you have a record?"

While that sounds funny and the answer is likely no, you can never be certain. Wingate advises families to always ask their nanny candidate about any criminal records. "If you ask, 'Have you ever been arrested or convicted?' and tell her that you will run a background check, she'll usually be honest," says Wingate. This can save you a lot of time if you find out up front, not later on in the process.

If your nanny will drive your children, inquire about motor vehicle infractions or issues -- speeding tickets, car accidents, etc. Again, let her know that you will need a copy of her driving record from each state she's had a license.

>> Don't forget to check your nanny's driving record

Ask open-ended questions"What is your childcare style?"

This is a question you'll need to know the answer to as well, explains Wingate. "Find out whether she's hands on or just planning to watch," she says. "Decide which is best for your family's needs. Some kids don't need to be entertained -- they are self-entertainers. But others need entertainment and require something to look forward to every day." You want to be sure that your future nanny's caretaking style matches your child's personality.

>> Do you know your parenting style?! Check out these parenting styles

more on nannies and childcare

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How to find the perfect babysitter
In search of Mary Poppins: Finding the right childcare for your child

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