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The Top 10 Nanny Screening Mistakes Parents Make


Hiring a nanny can be one of the best decisions your family makes, if you hire the right nanny for your family that is. If you’re thinking about going the nanny route, you’ll want to be sure to avoid these top 10 nanny screening mistakes parents make.

1. Hiring based on someone else’s experience.

The best nanny in the world isn’t the right nanny for every family. Just because your friend or colleague had an amazing experience with a nanny doesn’t necessarily mean you will too. Each family, job and nanny is unique and the right nanny for one family may not be the right nanny for another.

2. Failing to gather enough information.

Don’t hire a nanny sight unseen. It’s not enough to accept the information a nanny provides you on face value. From verifying a candidates identity to reviewing her work history, you need to gather enough information so you can make an educated and informed hiring decision.

3. Asking the wrong questions.

Forget the yes or no and how would you handle x, y, z questions. If you want the nanny candidate to share real and detailed information with you, you need to give her the opportunity to do. Instead of yes and no questions, ask open ended questions that give her room to share. And who cares how she thinks she’ll handle a situation, like a temper tantrum in public. You want to know how she has handled the situation in the past, so rephrase “how would you handle” to “how have you handled” to get the information you are seeking.

4. Not doing a complete background screening.

Nationwide background checks are referred to as preliminary checks for a reason. To do a thorough screening, you need to check county court records where the candidate has lived for at least the last 7 years. A social security trace will lead you to addresses associated with that social security number and from there you can identify what court records should be checked. Remember, your background checks must be FCRA compliant, which in addition to many things, means you need the candidate’s permission to do the checks.

5. Getting a false sense of security from the results of a background check.

The results of the background check only provide information regarding records found (or not found) in the locations searched in the name that you provided. They do not provide a guarantee that your candidate has not or will not have committed a crime. Of course it’s important to take the results of a background check into consideration, but the background check should be viewed as one of the many tools in your screening arsenal, not the end all be all of nanny screening.

6. Trusting their gut too much.

It’s great that you have a really good feeling about a candidate. That’s what you’re going for. However, when hiring a nanny, more than your gut has to point you towards the right candidate. Use your intuition as a launching point to let the screening process verify that you intuition is spot on. Just remember to give what you learn as much credence as what you feel if something turns up.

7. Not trusting their gut enough.

While nanny screening is essential, don’t let any amount of research or data (or even a nanny agency) persuade you into hiring a candidate that you have a bad feeling about. When it comes to hiring a nanny, ultimate hiring decision is yours alone. If something doesn’t feel right about a candidate, just move on.

8. Not gathering the right information from references.

Screening references can be tricky. I mean think about it. When applying for a position yourself, don’t you only provide references who you are fairly certain are going to say good things about you? In addition to confirming the information the nanny provided with regards to the job facts, like when she started, how old the children were, what her duties were, etc., gauge her reliability by asking how often she called in sick or was late for work and her responsibility level by asking if the children experienced any injuries while in her care, if she relayed accurate messages from school to home or if her tasks were always completed. If a reference seems reluctant to open up, the best think you can say is “I am thinking of hiring this person to care for my children unsupervised, in my home. That’s a big job. Should I have any concerns about hiring this nanny for this role?”

9. Not considering a nanny’s childcare philosophy.

Children thrive when their caregivers are on the same page of the same parenting book. They don’t have to necessarily agree on every detail when it comes to raising the kids, but they do have to remember whose boss when it comes to calling the shots. When considering a nanny, you do want to be in alignment when it comes to discipline, how you approach sleeping and eating and how you approach your days. If you’re a tiger mom and hire a nanny who favors the attachment parenting approach, for example, there’s going to be trouble.

10. Underestimating the power of a personal connection.

The nanny and employer relationship is just that, a relationship. And since the workplace is in the employer’s home, it should be no surprise that the relationship is an intimate one. While you certainly need not be BFFs with your nanny, simply tolerating her is not enough. You, your children and your nanny are going to be spending a lot of time together. If you don’t want that time to be miserable, you’ll want to hire someone you genuinely like. Especially since it’s pretty likely your children are going to pick up some of her traits.

When it comes to screening nanny candidates, reputable nanny placement agencies are here to help. Morningside Nannies can significantly reduce the time you spend screening candidates by doing the leg work for you and presenting to you only those candidates who are qualified for your job and are a good match for your family.


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