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Nanny Connection - Questions to ask when hiring

Hiring Nanny

Hiring a new nanny for your family can be a very stressful time. You have a short interview with someone you don't know who will then potential move in to your home and be responsible for keeping you children safe, no small task!

To help you with this we asked Donna Burfield, Founder of Joy and Purpose Coaching, for her top tips on what to ask during the hiring process.

So, you’ve decided to hire someone to help look after the children and maybe clean the house. Now what? First all be clear as to what you want your helper’s main priority to be. Is it keeping your house clean or is it to look after your children? Each is a full-time job on its own so have realistic expectations. You can always hire a company to come in and do a deep clean once a month but you can’t compromise on your children’s safety!

Round 1: Meeting the candidates

Many families choose to meet candidates without the children present for the first interview or at least go through this part of the interviewing process before introducing them.

Getting to know you

Start the interview by getting to know the person. This is a great opportunity to learn about their back ground and preferences.

  • How long have you been caring for children?

  • Which age groups have you cared for? Which age group is your favourite? Why?

  • What do you enjoy the most about looking after children?

  • What are your favourite activities to do with them?

  • Which activities don’t you like doing?

  • Do know the area? Do you have any friends or family here?

  • What do you like to do in your free time?

Training and certification

Nannies are usually highly qualified child care providers so if you are hiring a maid to double up as a nanny these questions will be invaluable as to their level of competency and experience:

  • Are you trained in First aid? CPR? Would you be willing to do a pediatric first aid course?

  • Have you taken child care classes? Would you be willing to take classes if necessary?

  • Do you have any experience with caring for children with… (fill in the blank – if your child has a learning or medical need such as ADHD or allergies)

  • Can you read and write in any other language (ex. English, Arabic)?

  • Can you swim? How do you feel about taking the children to the pool?

  • Can you drive?

Health questions

  • Have you had the COVID vaccine? If not, are you planning on getting one?

  • Are you up to date on other immunizations, including whooping cough?

Previous positions

The following questions will help you get a feel for how their previous positions line up with your particular requirements and needs:

  • Why are you interested in this position?

  • What was your daily routine with your last family? Were you given a schedule or did you work on it together?

  • What were some of the best things about your previous job? The worst? What have you learned from them?

  • Do you have references? Are you happy for me to contact them?

  • What would your previous family say were strong points?

The position at hand

This should include discussing the hours they will be working, days off, accommodation, public holidays, vacation, medical etc.

You may also want to ask:

  • Are you willing to cook/do light housework/take care of pets when the children are sleeping/at school?

  • Are there any activities or responsibilities that you are not comfortable doing? Why?

  • Are you comfortable with taking to the children to the pool, park, playdates?

If you have any unique requirements or situations whether, dietary, special needs, crazy work hours, moving house, going through a divorce etc. it is best to be upfront. This will give the candidate the opportunity to say if they are able/unable to work with these conditions.

Caring for the child

These questions will be a good indicator for you to assess whether the candidate is competent enough to look after your children. During the interview, observe more than just the answers to your questions. Write down your first impressions and listen to your gut.

  • What do you like best about being a nanny?

  • How would you handle difficult situations, such as a baby crying uncontrollably or a child talking back to you?

  • Have you ever had to deal with an emergency? What happened?

  • Who would you call if my child had an accident?

  • How would you handle my child if they were refusing to eat/hitting another child/talking back? How would you address the situation with me?

  • What do you think the nanny’s role is?

  • Are you comfortable administering medicine?

  • Do you have experience preparing and sterilizing bottles?

  • Do you have experience avoiding food allergies?

  • How would you structure the days with my child?

Round 2: Interaction with your children

Now that you have narrowed down the applicant’s you can finally introduce them to your children. Seeing how your child and potential nanny interact will help you with your final decision.

Here are a few more things you may want to consider to see if they would be a good fit for your family:

  • Does this potential nanny interact well with my child?

  • Does the applicant seem patient, caring and attentive?

  • Are they comfortable holding and playing with your little one?

  • Did they ask appropriate questions? Were they curious to know more about your child?

  • Did we have good chemistry?

  • Did they have a sense of humor?

  • Did they have good communication skills?

  • Do they seem reliable?

Round 3: Schedule a test run

Some families will ask if the applicant is happy to spend a day with them so they can see how everyone gets on. This of course will be paid but it will give you the opportunity to see how well they use their initiative, listen to instructions, communicate with your child and how they receive and incorporate your feedback.

Final note

One thing to remember is that this interview process works both ways. The nanny has the right to decline your offer if they don’t think you are a good fit for them! So, before offering the position be sure to have read and comply with the UAE Labour Law .

Having the right person by your side can enhance your family dynamics tenfold and it also gives you the chance to have quality one-on-one time with each member of the family. My number one tip would be to cultivate an honest and open relationship with your nanny and treat them with kindness and respect because they are looking after the most precious thing on earth – your children.


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