Families frequently ask how to come up with the best live-in nanny interview questions, and for good reason. It’s an important step in hiring a live-in nanny (or Au Pair), whether it’s your first live-in arrangement or not.
That’s because, if you can create a list of the best live-in nanny interview questions, you are one step closer to ensuring that you find the best fit for your family.
But how can I be sure I’ve thought of everything?
Below is a comprehensive checklist designed to help you think through what you and your family need from your Au Pair or live-in nanny. Every family is different, so it’s important to write the interview questions yourself.
To help you do this, we’ve included some examples of tried-and-true interview tactics our Host Families use themselves. (These may actually be the best live-in nanny interview questions because they come from the Host Family’s personal experience. After hosting multiple Au Pairs and nannies, these Host Families are experts on how to find the best fit).
1. Determine Your Expectations & Household Needs
Write out your thoughts on the below questions. This exercise helps you think through things, but you wouldn’t necessarily send it verbatim to your prospective Au Pair or live-in nanny.
Instead, think of this as a way to get everything out where you can see it, so you can pinpoint which things are the most important to you. Those things, in turn, can be conveyed to your prospective Au Pair or nanny during the interview.
- What do you expect in an Au Pair or live-in nanny?
- Identify your motivation(s) in hosting an Au Pair or live-in nanny.
- Describe your personality and values. How could these impact your Au Pair or live-in nanny?
- Write out your day-in-the-life. Where can your Au Pair or live-in nanny best support your needs?
- What are your habits? Your spouse’s? Your kids’?
- Does your household do anything that’s different or unique? How might it affect your Au Pair or live-in nanny?
For Au Pairs specifically:
- Are you prepared for a cultural exchange experience, akin to hosting an exchange student?
- Are you prepared to take on responsibilities such as: helping your Au Pair acclimate to U.S. life & driving, providing food and transportation, acting as a parent in many ways (helping support your Au Pair emotionally, helping them make friends and socialize, etc.)?
- Do your expectations align with the State Department rules?
Now, review your answers. Highlight the 3 most important things on your list. You’ll want to keep these in mind when writing your interview questions later.
Keep in mind that your expectations can change over time. If you’ve never had live-in childcare before, it’s almost inevitable that your expectations will change. (And even if you’ve done this before, every person you host will be different than the last).
Later in this process, you’ll want to create a strategy for communicating regularly with your Au Pair or live-in nanny about your expectations (and theirs, too!).
2. Identify Deal-Breakers
It’s important to know your deal-breakers. These are things that would not fulfill your needs or that you could not tolerate in a live-in arrangement.
It’s also important to identify which things could potentially be “fixed” if both parties agree to certain rules.
For example, if it bothers you that your prospective nanny has a boyfriend who lives nearby, would you be okay with it as long as she doesn’t bring him home with her? Or as long as he doesn’t clean out your pantry when he visits? Identifying why something bothers you helps you determine if it’s a true deal-breaker.
For each of these items, or any other deal-breakers you think of, ask yourself if you can foresee a workable solution that could be discussed during interviews.
If you cannot foresee a workable solution, then that item is probably a true deal-breaker for you. Identify these traits and use them as filters when screening candidates. (If possible, don’t waste your time interviewing people who exhibit a trait that’s a true deal-breaker).
- Does smoking bother you?
- What if your Au Pair or live-in nanny has a boyfriend/ girlfriend? Would this bother you? Why?
- How old are your children? Do you absolutely need someone with infant or toddler experience?
- Do you need your Au Pair or live-in nanny to drive?
- Are you looking for someone who can teach or support a second language?
- Would you feel comfortable with someone who’s not CPR certified?
For Au Pairs specifically:
- What level of English fluency are you prepared to accept?
- How far are you willing to go to help your Au Pair acclimate to driving in the U.S.? Keep in mind that some countries, such as China and Kenya, have much different driving conditions and often take longer to adjust.
Review your list. Highlight your true deal-breakers and keep them in mind. These traits will help you write the best live-in nanny interview questions when you get to that step.
3. Envision Your Ideal Candidate
Envision traits that are the opposite of a deal-breaker. Which traits would be “deal-makers,” so to speak?
Is there anything that would make you slap the table and say, “That’s the one!” Something that would make you want to extend an offer without further interviewing? (You should still conduct multiple interviews, even if you have this reaction).
Knowing your pet peeves can help you identify “deal-makers.”
For example, if your biggest pet peeve is living with someone who can’t seem to clean up after themselves or do the simplest chores, you may want to screen for candidates who describe themselves as neat freaks, or who have previous housekeeping experience.
If your biggest pet peeve is living with someone who keeps to themselves and never engages in conversation, then you may find more success looking for people who describe themselves as social butterflies.
- What is your favorite part of living with another person? What can you see yourself celebrating or getting excited about?
- Would you love it if you came home to a clean house every day?
- Are you looking for someone who wants to be part of your family, not just a nanny?
- Do you need someone who can help your kids be more active?
- Would you love coming home to find your kids dancing to loud music with their Au Pair or nanny?
- Do you like living with someone who’s quiet and keeps to themselves?
- Would you bond instantly with someone who’s an artist or photographer?
- Are you looking for someone who has experience driving in heavy traffic or snow?
- Think of other factors revolving around personality, values, and motivation in becoming an Au Pair or live-in nanny.
Take a look at your list and highlight the true “deal-makers” for reference during the next steps.
4. Imagine Nanny / Au Pair’s Needs
Your childcare provider will have his or her own needs. Particularly in a live-in situation, it’s important to recognize that your nanny or Au Pair will have their own expectations, too. If you want to write the best live-in nanny interview questions, it’s important to consider what your prospective childcare provider expects from the experience.
Think of some ways to address this in your interview. Some potential talking points:
- Does the candidate cook often? Do they need/ prefer to have their own kitchen?
- What do they expect from you in terms of guidance? Do they have their own disciplinary style? Do they expect to follow your example?
- Does the candidate expect your household to have a housekeeper?
- What are they expecting from you in terms of work hours and time off?
- Does the candidate have plans to travel? Do they have friends in the area?
- Will the candidate want to bring people over during their off time?
- Do they hope to be able to take the kids around town during working hours? Do they expect you to buy them museum/ zoo passes, etc.?
- What do they hope to get out of the arrangement? What kind of relationship do they want?
Keep in mind that these examples won’t necessarily be deal-breakers for every candidate. Highlight anything that stands out to you, and keep it in mind when writing your interview questions. When you get to this stage of the interview, be sure to ask whether they have any deal-breakers, too.
5. Write Down Your Best Live-In Nanny Interview Questions
Now, it’s time to write down your custom-tailored list of the best live-in nanny interview questions for your family.
Remember, you’re trying to:
- Weed out anyone with deal-breaker traits
- Determine which candidates can fulfill your expectations
- Identify anyone who exhibits “above & beyond” traits (ideal candidate)
- Learn about each candidate’s personality, values, and motivation(s) by the end of the 1st interview
Go back to any line items you highlighted. Which of your expectations are absolutely necessary to cultivate a successful live-in arrangement?
Then, narrow down your candidate pool. Which candidates seem ready to fulfill those expectations? Do any of them exhibit deal-breakers? Which ones might go above and beyond your expectations? Interview these candidates first.
When drafting questions, remember the 5 most important things to learn about each candidate during the 1st interview: safety, quality of childcare, personality, values, and motivation. These are the factors that will show you whether a candidate can provide safe and loving care for your children.
It will also reveal whether a candidate can live with you (and you with them).
And perhaps the one thing that gets overlooked most often: these factors show you how a candidate will respond to conflict, and whether they can adapt to your needs.
Here is a list of example interview questions to guide you in writing the best live-in nanny interview questions for your family.
Once your draft is complete…
Review your questions and determine the following:
- Can ask all of those questions within 30 minutes- 1 hour (allowing time to go over your 3 most important expectations)?
- Will these questions will help you determine the level of safety and quality of childcare your Au Pair or live-in nanny can provide?
- Do these questions seem helpful for pinpointing the candidates’ personality type, values, and motivations in coming to live with you?
- Will these questions help guide the conversation to discover potential “deal-maker” traits?
- Do your questions address the Au Pair’s needs and expectations, too?
If you answered “no” to any of the above, go back and fine-tune your list before interviewing.
If you answered “yes” to all of the above, congratulations! You’re ready to conduct your first interview!