Families know that a comprehensive, legitimate pre-employment background check, thorough reference checking and organized behavioral interviewing questions are the gold standard in nanny recruiting. The careful background screening is a must, but you should not be lulled into thinking that just because a nanny that passed these 3 steps with flying colors you don't need to pay attention and observe the nanny on the job.
Even the best nanny background screening will not reveal:
- Identity: Before you even start doing a background screening, YOU must confirm the identity of the person you are interviewing. Require that candidates show you original documents confirming identity: drivers license, passport, college ID card, etc. At least one government-issued document should have a photo. Do not accept photocopies as these can disguise alterations.
- Honesty: Whether the question is from you or your child, you want a nanny who will be truthful. Honest communication, with age appropriate boundaries, is a key attribute to a successful nanny.
- Patience: The teething baby who is whiny and just needs to be held, the child who wants Frozen's Let It Go played for the 10 time in a row, and the 1st grader who requires extra time and assistance mastering this weeks 10 word spelling list all require a patient, engaged caregiver.
- Reading Skills: A nanny who reads poorly or just plain doesn't enjoy a good children's book will not read to your child, an important activity supporting your child's language skills, comprehension, and problem solving skills.
- Inappropriate or Excessive TV Time and/or Cell Phone Usage: Most families understand that some TV viewing will occur when your nanny is caring for your child. When weather prohibits outdoor time, a child is mildly ill or even when nanny needs 30 minutes to prepare a meal or clean up after one appropriate (as defined by you the parent) TV viewing is generally acceptable. You may approve of Dora the Explorer, your nanny may prefer her favorite adult themed soap opera or even Law and Order: SVU. The cell phone, like the TV, can both take attention away from your child, it can also expose them to inappropriate content. From talking, chatting, Facebook, Angry Birds and Words with Friends - the distractions that the nanny's phone presents result in inattention to your child's needs and safety. You want a nanny that understands electronic boundaries and parks her phone in her handbag during the day.
- Gossip: Nanny background screening will not reveal the nanny with loose lips. An argument between parents or a child's learning difficulties should not become common knowledge at the park.
- The Busybody: Nosy or intrusive questioning, injecting opinions inappropriately and just plain snooping will reveal themselves in the work environment, not the nanny background screen.
- Daily and Weekly Planning Skills: The ability to organize a day to include the mundane (meal preparation, children's laundry) and the entertaining (outdoor play, games, arts and crafts projects) is an important childcare attribute.
- Initative: Outstanding nannies have problem solving skills, recognize opportunities, and display the initiative to teach the child to tie his shoes when he is ready to learn, or share with the parents ideas and suggestions for activities, crafts and the like. The ability a nanny to recognize a need and fill it without being asked is priceless.
- Personality Match: You need a nanny you can communicate with, who responds appropriately to your queues and may even share your sense of humor. The interview is like dating, the job is closer to marriage.
So do make sure you carefully interview, reference check and background screen all candidates. Do not expect that to be the end of the process! After hire keep lines of communication open, ask questions, drop in unexpectedly, and observe and be on the watch for any red flags. Do trust, but make sure you verify.