Nanny Interview Questions (With Answers)
A career in childcare can be very rewarding. If you enjoy a high level of involvement with varied responsibilities, becoming a nanny could be a good option for you.
This article looks at what a nanny job entails and how to impress a potential employer with answers to some of the most common nanny interview questions.
The main role of a nanny is to provide care for one or more children within a family unit. This may involve residing in the family home as a live-in nanny or working agreed hours as a live-out nanny.
The nature of the role means that no two job descriptions are the same. Every family, every child, will have their own needs.
However, generally speaking, the duties assigned to a nanny include:
- Preparing children for school, including drop-off and pick-up
- Supervising and assisting with homework
- Planning and overseeing recreational and educational activities
- Arranging and taking children to appointments, such as medical or dental check-ups
- Helping children get ready for bed, including bathing
- Preparing meals
- Administering medications
- General housekeeping duties such as tidying, cleaning and shopping
The most important part of a nanny's job, however, is creating a safe, supportive environment for the child.
Nannies are essentially an extension of the family, working alongside parents to teach good behavior, and to nurture and guide the children in their care as they grow.
For many, this is what draws them to the profession. But it does require solid, long-term commitment, and it can be quite intense, especially for live-in nannies.
Sharing the same personal space with an employer can place significant strain on the working relationship, particularly one as intimate as co-parenting, and disagreements on parenting techniques can lead to falling out.
Nevertheless, when you land a job with the right family, there are many benefits.
Most employers will promote a healthy work-life balance and encourage you to pursue personal interests around your duties, offer you private living quarters and welcome you as part of the family. If you’re needed on family holidays, you may even get paid to travel.
What you can expect to earn depends on your level of experience, but an **entry-level annual salary starts at around 29,000, while those with extensive experience can earn up to $47,000.
One of the major benefits of becoming a nanny is that if a family sees you as an ideal fit for their situation, you’re in a strong position to negotiate your salary – but tread carefully here. You don’t want to throw away the perfect post by asking for too much.
An interview for a nanny position will aim to establish how suitable you are for the role based on your qualifications, skills, experience and personality.
It may be conducted by the parents themselves or a member of staff at a nannying agency.
The interviewer will typically ask a mix of competency-based questions that look at your past professional behavior and achievements, and situational-based questions that examine how you’d react in certain circumstances.
As a nanny is such an important part of a family, it is important that both sides are compatible, so you’ll also come across questions that discuss your interests, values and lifestyle.
With this question, the interviewer is looking to establish your motivations and what it is about the nannying profession that satisfies you.
If this is your first interview for such a position, you’ll likely hear the question “Why do you want to become a nanny?” instead, but its purpose is the same.
In your answer, focus on your passion for caregiving and offer specific examples of how this came about. You can use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique to do this.
Show that you understand the important role a nanny plays in a child’s development and that this is what brings you job fulfillment.
Avoid vague reasons or anything that indicates the job is just a paycheck or stopgap until you find something better.
I chose to pursue this career at an early age when I realized how rewarding it is to be influential in a child's life. In high school, I was a volunteer assistant in elementary classes and loved helping the little ones learn more about themselves and the world through educational play.
As a nanny, I get to play an even greater part in shaping a child’s future and I see it as a privilege to be given that level of responsibility.
Variations on this question may include:
- Tell me about your educational background
- What formal training have you had that qualifies you as a nanny?
The interviewer will have this information from your resume, so is looking for you to expand on detail rather than repeat yourself. Share, in brief, what you took from your learning experience and how you’ll use it in the role.
If you don't have any childcare qualifications, consider finding out what is available so that you can work toward this.
As my resume states, I have a Diploma in Early Childhood Education. The most beneficial thing I took from this course was an understanding of how to apply key techniques in response to different behavioral styles, which really helps me focus on a child’s individual needs.
I’m also a fully qualified first-aid practitioner and hold a clean driving license.
This question aims to uncover your childcare expertise and how your career to date has progressed. A similar question may be “How long have you been working in childcare?”
If the interview is for your first official role as a nanny, don’t worry. The interviewer should be aware of this from your application and is likely to be satisfied with informal experience, provided you give strong examples.
The same applies if you do have formal experience.
It’s not enough to state that you’ve worked as a nanny for a given amount of years. You need to expand with details of how you’ve grown and how you’ve continually focused on personal development to benefit your career.
My first official post started five years ago, although I’d gained a lot of volunteer experience before then working at summer camps. It was a fantastic start to my career and I learnt a lot about my own strengths and weaknesses.
I bonded really well with the whole family and my relationship with the child was strong. But in the beginning, I struggled to separate the personal from the professional. As a live-in nanny, it's a very fine line and it hadn't occurred to me how hard it would be. I was lucky to have a supportive employer who helped me navigate those boundaries and become a better nanny as a result.
This is a broad question, which makes it tricky to answer if you don’t understand its purpose.
Rather than an invitation to document your life history, it’s actually a chance for the family to learn more about your interests and values and how well these match theirs.
Base your answer around the original job description, highlighting things the employer listed as important.
However, always give an honest representation of yourself – pretending you’re the perfect fit won’t do you or your potential employer any good. Keeping up a lie for an extended period can lead to burnout.
The interviewer may ask a more focused version of this question, such as:
- Tell me about your upbringing
- What family values are important to you?
I’ve always been a family-oriented person and am extremely close to my parents and two younger siblings. We’re quite an outdoorsy bunch and I was brought up to appreciate nature and experiences over material possessions.
As kids, we were always taught to respect others and that the happiest people were the kindest people. That’s stuck with me into adulthood, and I try to instill the idea in the children I care for.
This question could be phrased in multiple forms, for example:
- What qualities do you think makes someone a good nanny?
- What makes you a good fit for this nanny job?
All these questions focus on the same thing: Your understanding of the job requirements and how well you’re able to meet them.
Focus on the soft skills outlined in the job ad, giving examples of how you’ve used these in the past, ideally in a childcare setting.
Don’t just reel off a list of skills and qualities. You need to show you understand why they are important.
There’s a lot of skills I bring to this position, but I think my greatest assets are my patience, creativity and caring nature. In my last position I was responsible for a child with confidence issues, so we spent a lot of time pursuing activities that brought them out of their shell, like creative role play.
I see that as my biggest strength – helping children overcome whatever issues they may face in a way that works for them.
Every family will have its own opinion on the most important aspect of childcare, and they will be looking for a nanny that shares the same outlook.
You can get a fairly good idea of what this is by carefully reviewing the job description. Look for clues as to exactly what they’re after, then combine this with your own experience to give a well-rounded answer.
You might also hear this question phrased as “What do you see as the most important aspect of this job?” or similar.
A child’s happiness and well-being are top priorities for me. We live in such a high-pressure world so it’s important to teach children that who they are is enough and to support them in whatever they choose to do.
Of course, there must be boundaries, and that's why it's vital for a nanny to work side-by-side with parents to provide consistency and impart core values.
Choosing a nanny is a highly emotive experience for a parent. They need assurance that their child will not only be looked after well but be happy in the company of their carer.
That is the focus of this question. The interviewer wants to know that you have the interpersonal skills to connect with the child effectively.
When answering this question, make it about each child’s needs rather than suggesting a one-size-fits-all approach.
Every child is different, and understanding that is key when trying to communicate. Some respond to an empathetic approach; others enjoy humor; some look for discipline. It’s all about taking the time to understand how they work, and adapting your methods to suit.
In asking this question, the interviewer is looking at your ability to handle emotional outbursts and how well your approach to discipline aligns with their own.
Avoid any suggestion that temper tantrums might be an inconvenience. They are part and parcel of the job, and you should show that you’re prepared to deal with them as a key responsibility of your post.
I see a temper tantrum as a child struggling to cope with their emotions, and view patience as key for appropriately dealing with them. So long as they’re not putting themselves in danger, I find it best to let it play out, then discuss the situation once they’ve calmed down.
I think the worst thing you can do is reinforce bad behavior by rising to it – children need to learn that there are better ways to express themselves.
This is perhaps one of the nicest nanny interview questions, and most people will find it easy to answer.
Keep your focus on the relationships you built with both child and family, and reference anything you found particularly rewarding.
At the same time, you need to show you’re ready to move on and experience life with a new family.
I was with my last family for three years before they moved, and in that time we became very close. I saw them as more of an extension of my own family than an employer. I had the privilege of helping little Tommy adapt as he moved from kindergarten to elementary school, and I couldn’t have been more proud. I was very sad to see them leave, but I’m ready now to share my skills and enthusiasm with a new family.
This isn’t quite so easy to answer. In fact, it can prove incredibly difficult. The key is to avoid being overly negative and never bad-mouth a past employer.
Be objective about the problems you came across. No job is ever perfect and it’s totally acceptable to find fault, provided you do so with decorum and show you tried to resolve your issues.
Overall, my last experience was a positive one, but there were some issues with what was expected of me and when.
I think it all stemmed from the fact I was so much a part of the family – certain expectations started to creep in that were outside of my job description and working hours.
It caused some tension for a while but I raised my concerns before it escalated and the issue was resolved.
Top Tips for Your Nanny Interview
While this article has covered some of the most common nanny interview questions, there’s no telling exactly what you’ll be asked on the day.
It’s a good idea to spend some time preparing talking points to draw on for answers.
Look back on your experience and pinpoint any significant challenges, successes or failures, then consider what sort of questions they could be useful for.
Practice explaining each situation using the STAR technique, outlining a situation, task, action and result. The more you practice this, the more you'll find answers flow naturally.
Regardless of what you’ve sent the employer already, it’s wise to turn up with an organized folder of any documentation you think will be useful. This may include:
- Your resume (identical to the one you sent with your application)
- Certificates for any relevant qualifications
- Written references from at least two past employers or character references if you have no professional experience
- A list of additional professional references or personal references the employer may contact
- Your driving license and any other requested forms of identification
This is your chance to leave a standout impression, so go in with the right attitude and make it count.
Along with answers to potential nanny interview questions, spend time working on your nonverbal communication skills such as body language, eye contact and positive facial expressions.
Pay close attention to the interviewer and try to establish a good rapport.
Experience will, of course, be taken into consideration, but it’s your energy, commitment and enthusiasm that will make you stand out.
For a nanny job to be successful, it must be right for both parties. Use your interview to learn more about the family you’ll be working for, the child/children you’d be looking after and the scope of the role on offer.
Some questions you may want to ask include:
- What duties do you expect your nanny to carry out on a day-to-day basis?
- What working hours are involved? Do duties extend to evenings, weekends and holidays?
- Are there any activities you do not wish your child to participate in?
- How involved do you expect your nanny to be in terms of discipline?
- Are there any medical issues to be aware of?
- Does the role come with the use of a car, or will I be expected to use my own transport?
- What sort of interests does your child have?
For live-in nanny positions, it’s also useful to establish:
- What sort of accommodation is provided?
- What are the house rules?
- How involved will I be in family life? For example, will I sit down with the family at mealtime, and join in on family occasions?
The certifications and qualifications you’ll be required to hold as a nanny will all be down to the individual employer, as there is no legal requirement in the US for a practicing nanny to seek professional accreditation.
A clean driving record is usually required by most families, as is a first aid qualification.
It may also be useful to seek a certificate in water safety and obtain CPR/AED certification.
Degrees, diplomas or certificates in child-related studies are not always necessary but can prove beneficial.
Always check the job description in full to establish what the employer is looking for.
There are many things involved in good interview preparation, and you should take the time to address them all.
Make sure you fully understand the job description and prepare answers to the most common nanny interview questions.
Your interview is your chance to make the right impression so good preparation is a must.
Preparation for a nanny video interview should cover all the basics of standard interview preparation, with additional attention to digital communication techniques and your technical setup.
Practice talking to camera if it’s something you’re unfamiliar with, paying attention to virtual eye contact and your on-screen body language.
Make sure you have a strong broadband connection – hard-wired if possible to avoid Wi-Fi issues – and choose a private space with good lighting, clear sound and a professional backdrop. Use a digital backdrop if necessary.
To stand out in your nanny interview, you need to tick all the boxes in terms of skills and personal qualities, demonstrate solid experience and show enthusiasm for the opportunity.
You’ll need to make a good impression by showing up early, taking an interest in the child and family, and asking plenty of questions.
Your personality needs to shine through, so try to relax and be yourself.
You should use your nanny interview to learn as much as you can about the role on offer, as well as the family you're interviewing for and the child or children you’ll be looking after.
Establish in as much detail as possible the duties and responsibilities involved, how the family typically lives, and what the child’s needs and interests are.
If applying for a live-in position, you’ll also want to know more about your accommodation, working hours and any house rules that may apply to you.
If you’re looking to hire a childcare professional, you’ll want to ask questions that cover their qualifications, experience and skill set.
You’ll also want to ensure they hold similar values to yourself and are passionate about caring for children.
Ask open-ended questions and seek examples of when the interviewee has demonstrated key skills in the past.
Be sure to conduct thorough reference checks to confirm you’re hiring a responsible, trustworthy individual.
If you’re interviewing a nanny over the phone, you need to account for the fact that there are no visual cues to pick up on.
Ask the same open-ended questions as you would in a face-to-face interview, but place more emphasis on following up for further details.
This will go some way towards replacing tell-tale signs like body language and facial expressions.
Your nanny interview is your next step towards a fulfilling, rewarding career, so take every opportunity to prepare yourself thoroughly.
The list of questions covered here is by no means exhaustive, but you’ll find the answers you come up with can often be adapted to suit other question types.
As long as you take the time to reflect on your experience, skills and motivations, you should leave your nanny interview having made a good impression.