Red Flags When Hiring a Nanny

Red Flags When Hiring a Nanny

Hiring someone to love and care for your children can be a very daunting task, especially if you are trying to do it on your own. I might be a little biased since I own a Nanny Agency, but an Agency could be the best option because they will be aware of potential red flags to look for when screening candidates that families might not think about. An Agency is able to weed through the wrong candidates and screen the potential right fit for your family. They are able to pick up on behaviors, personality traits, skills, and potential warning signs. The main thing is that families just don’t know what they are looking for, or what signs to look out for. I’d like to be helpful by offering a couple of our red flags we look for when screening our own candidates. Some might be obvious, and others not so much!

1. Their resume. I’m a big believer that you can only know so much about a person from their resume. It’s a piece of paper that can’t possibly tell me all the things about a candidate that I need to know which is why I always recommend a family at least meets with a candidate we refer to them. However when we accept an application we really pay attention to 3 things. We look for how much childcare experience and education they have, for any major gaps in their work history, and we look for professionalism. We look for candidates that at least have volunteer or babysitting experience with children, we look for candidates that have longevity in their positions, and a resume that has some effort put into it. You don’t want to even consider someone with zero experience, someone that jumps around from job to job, or just threw together their resume last minute. To us, that shows that they are just “trying this out” and are unsure of if it’s a right fit for them, that they aren’t able to stay at one place for very long, or that they don’t take the position very seriously.

2.Jumping through hoops. I have had several business advisors over the years tell me the phrase “Hire Slow, Fire Fast” and it really has been helpful for us as I hope it can be helpful for you as well. What this means for us is that we put as many hoops as we possibly can for the candidates to jump through before we approve them for our process. Within our Agency, a candidate has to fill out a contact form on our website, send our Recruitment Director a copy of their resume with at least 3 professional references, fill out an online application, schedule a face to face interview with our Recruitment Director, and then finally have an interview with myself- the Agency Owner. If a candidate is compliant with all of those steps, then we will consider bringing them into our pool of potential candidates. We never ever send reminders for candidates to complete a step. If they miss a step, don’t follow direction, miss an interview without communication, or don’t respond in a reasonable timely manner we almost immediately disqualify them and encourage them to reapply in the future when they are ready to meet our standards and values. The more hoops a candidate has to jump through, the more likely they are serious about the position and have potential to be a quality hard worker for your family. So the red flag here is not being able to jump through hoops. If a candidate hasn’t responded to your message in more than a few days, do NOT send them a reminder. Simply move on to the next candidate that is willing to take the position seriously. In our Agency specifically we have a percentage of about only 10% of candidates applying to positions that are compliant and jumping through the hoops, and only a percentage of 5% that are quality. So don’t get discouraged and end up settling here or chasing down candidates if you aren’t getting the quality you think you should be getting. Trust this process and the right candidates will come!

3. Professional Experience. Please know there is a big difference between nannying and babysitting. A babysitter is usually a high school or college student watching your kiddos when you go out for date night. A Nanny is usually a trained professional employee that is paid to teach, nurture, and care for your children. If a candidate applies to your family’s position and she is (lets for example say) 19 years old but says she has 5 years of experience, this is a red flag. You cannot be a professional nanny at 14 years old, and the right candidate will absolutely know the difference. It’s okay for a candidate to include any childcare or babysitting experience in their resume or profile because it definitely counts. But it does not count as paid, professional, nanny experience and a career nanny will know the difference as well so it wouldn’t be on her resume or application as such. If you hire a candidate like this thinking they are experienced, your expectations will most likely not be met. A nanny knows how to soothe tantrums and separation anxiety, navigate tricky situations, know about boundaries and industry standards, etc. Hiring someone with little to no experience is not necessarily a bad thing either, it usually means they are teachable and trainable! But if your family is looking for someone who is professional, experienced, can jump right in, and knows what they are doing- then please look out for this red flag.

4. Trust your instincts. Hiring the right candidate is not just about who the person is on paper. Nannying is such a relational and personal career because they are in your home and you see them in such an intimate environment. If you meet with a candidate and something just doesn’t feel right, you should listen to that! A candidate can be great on paper, have awesome qualifications and references, and a wonderful background and still just not be a right fit for your family. Personality styles need to match, you need to be able to at least have a friendly relationship with one another, and if you are feeling uncomfortable or like something isn’t right then follow your instincts. Only you know what is right for your family and it would be really discouraging and difficult to end up resenting or not trusting your nanny once they are already working for you.

There are many more red flags you should look out for that might be a bit more obvious like when a reference check doesn’t go well, if a candidate doesn’t show up for their interview, a candidate that comes across as rude or inappropriate or vulgar, or a candidate that doesn’t seem to be engaging or interactive with your kiddos. This is not the time or place for giving people the benefit of the doubt or second chances. I hope these red flags we have shared are helpful for your family while searching for candidates on your own. If you find that you need more tips or some extra help weeding through nannies, please feel free to contact us and we would love to assist you further! Thanks so much!


Our mission at Nanny Miller Agency is to support families by providing tools, community, and helping hands. We service the Toledo Metro Area and the Ann Arbor area.

Chelsea Miller is a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and Owner of the Nanny Miller Agency.

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© 2019 by Violet Femme Conceptions

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