How to Conduct a Behavioral Interview With A Potential Nanny

Dear Be the Best Nanny Newsletter,
After reading and responding to your post about an abusive caregiver on Monday I wrote and posted the following.
Thanks, Lisa Werth

How to Do A Behavioral Interview With A Potential Nanny
By Lisa Werth

As a long time nanny, I’m aware of sad stories involving the neglect and abuse of children left in the care of a nanny, an au pair, babysitter, or other caregiver. I understand the concerns faced by parents when they need to put a baby or young toddler into the hands of someone else with the hopes that it is a safe and secure decision.

Many agencies and nanny related websites will provide you with various lists of questions you can ask potential caregiver candidates on interviews. I’ve put together a list of common behavioral-interview questions. What you want to look for as you listen to responses is how well candidates manage their time, communication, job duties, and demands. Then determine if it fits into what you are looking for in an employee working in your home with your children.

Step 1
Choose questions from those below that you believe are important to the caregiver position in your home. Modify or add to the questions to make them work for you.

Step 2

* Age
* Race, ethnicity, or color
* Gender or sex
* Country of national origin or birth place
* Religion
* Disability
* Marital or family status or pregnancy

Many thanks to Bob King of Legally Nanny for including the information about labor laws above.

Step 3
Ask some of the following questions:
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince parents to see things your way.
  • Can you describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation as a caregiver that demonstrated your coping skills?
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem at work.
  • Give me an example of a time when the parents and you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to use your abilities to influence a parent’s opinion.
  • Can you tell me a specific example of a time when you had to conform to a rule or request by your employers with which you did not agree?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of your typical job description in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split second decision.
  • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?
  • Tell me about a time you were able to successfully deal with a child when they may have not liked the situation.
  • What was a difficult decision you had to made in the last year?
  • Give me an example of a time when something you tried to accomplish and failed.
  • Can you provide me with an example of when you showed initiative and took the lead?
  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset employer, parent, or supervisor.
  • Give me an example of a time when you motivated others.
  • Can you provide me with an example of a time when you used your fact-finding skills to solve a problem?
  • Tell me about a time when you missed an obvious solution to a problem.
  • Describe a time when you anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.
  • Can you give me an example of a time when you were forced to make an unpopular decision?
  • Please tell me about a time you had to quit a job, or was let go.
  • Describe a time when you set your sights too high (or too low).

Always conduct a complete background check on a nanny. This includes criminal and department of motor vehicle. Ask to see proof of current CPR and First Aid Certification. Call references. If a nanny has a portfolio peruse it to see if they can back up what they have on their resume.


  1. Very helpful. Good job ladies. Impressive nannies. I hope I can be so lucky to find such professional caregivers as we are in the process of hiring a nanny right now. Great resource. Sally B.Mother of newbornHouston TX

  2. A reputable agency can help parents with these concerns. I used a company, Nanny Masters, and wow…did they screen my candidates! I received 15-20 pages of paperwork prior to each of my scheduled interviews with their Nanny candidates. They didn't just have an application. There were all kinds of open-ended questions and actual references obtained too. They even had copies of DL, SS cards, CPR, criminal history, drug test results, and vehicle insurance sent to me. Impressive!

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