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Interviewing “Nannyde” Style

Interviewing “Nannyde” Style

I do a series of three interviews over a period of weeks before a family starts in my home. I like to take my time and get to know them. I usually spend five to six hours with them total before the child’s first day.  I haven’t interviewed families with kids over the age of one for quite a few years as I primarily take infants into any opening in the day care.

The first interview is a “get to know you{ time. I don’t spend too much time talking about child care related things. I just want to get to know the parents so I have a feel for whether or not we would work well together.

I do a tour of the home on the first interview. I also interview at 4:30 p.m. so I have a few of the children still in the home. I like the new parents to meet some of my clients who they will be calling for references somewhere down the line. They also get a chance to meet a few of the kids and my helper.

I usually spend at least forty five minutes with them on the first interview but sometimes it lasts an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes. If the baby hasn’t been born yet it’s usually a little longer but if they have a newborn it’s usually on the shorter side.

The questions I like to ask are questions I have found to be positive indicators similar to clients I have worked for in the past and had long and easy going relationships with.

I first ask them how long have they been married and if they have other children living with them. I like to know about how long they have known each other. I’m interested in their families of origin and where they are in birth order with their siblings. I ask about where they grew up and if they have family nearby who will be a support system for them as the baby is growing up.

I ask specifically about their jobs. I want to know where they work, what hours, and how long they have been employed there. I ask about their positions at work to get a feel for if they have employees working below them, beside them, and above them. If they have a large number of employees working below them I try to get an idea of their management style and how they perceive a child care provider in that scheme of management.

If they are used to having many people working below them I try to find out if they are comfortable having someone who will work along side of them and if they see the role of parent to provider as an employee relationship or a partnership. I try to get a sense of whether they will be comfortable with me, as a babysitter, being my own business owner and ultimately my own boss.

If the parent isn’t comfortable having that kind of relationship I know it won’t work. I’ve been in business for over seventeen years so I know the only way it can work here is if the parent understands that I don’t work as an employee to the parents. With having a possible eight families with sixteen parents it would be impossible for me to keep sixteen bosses happy in the care of eight individual kids.

When we get into this aspect of the conversation I try to get a feel for whether they understand group care and it’s positive and negative aspects. Are they able to understand that my role is look after the group as a whole while meeting the individual needs of each child? If they want the role of their child’s needs surpassing the needs of the group then my service will not meet their needs.

We talk a lot about their jobs history. I ask them when they started working as a teenager and what kinds of jobs they had. I want an idea of their attitude about work. I want to be assured that they understand and appreciate good hard work. I want them to have a history of good hard work so they appreciate the good hard work I do every day.

I want the stability of a family who is invested into their jobs and show stability in their position. Job changes can threaten their ability to keep their child in my care. I don’t want to have a lot of turnover in kids so I prefer families that have long work histories with their company.

It’s important to get an idea of any possible layoffs. A few months ago I interviewed a family and at the very last minute of the interview the Dad let it spill that he was hoping to get laid off for the winter so he wouldn’t even need a babysitter. This was after a specific conversation I had with them about wanting children in my home who had the highest likelihood of staying for the five years from birth until Kindergarten.

If either of the parents work in seasonal jobs and want the break of being off for some or all of the off season time it won’t work for me. I know it’s always possible for folks to get laid off but I don’t want to start a relationship knowing there is a high likelihood of that.

When discussing their work life I try to get an idea of how much time they have off during the year and whether or not my three weeks off and holiday time each year will be a burden to them. If they don’t have flexibility to pick their times off it could be a problem down the line to accommodate my vacations. If they don’t have flexibility it could compromise whether or not they can have time off when their child is ill. Both of these can cause a ton of conflict in the future.

If they are self employed I try to get an idea of their flexibility in their jobs. This is an indicator that the child may not come at a regularly scheduled time which can be difficult to manage over time. I prefer children who have a routine for arrival and departure. If there is too much daily variation of the schedule it may be more than we can accommodate with our daily schedule with the most important emphasis on making sure naptime goes off without a hitch every day. If their schedule can affect nap time it definitely will not work. Protecting naptime daily is one of my main goals to keep the business healthy and lasting over time.

When asking about their families of origin, I give preference to families connected to the land. I love families who have been raised on a farm or raised in a rural area. They have a style that fits well with my style in the daily care of the kids and food. They also appreciate a hard days work. (Did I mention before I like hard working parents? LOL)

I also love working for families that have a lot of multi-generational support. I discuss their relationship with their immediate family particularly their parents and their siblings. If they have siblings with small children it gives me the notion that they will have times when they are with their child in a group of children of varying ages that will help them more understand what I do every day.

I also like caring for the child who is surrounded by grandparents, aunties and uncles. The more people loving them in their home life will definitely work it’s way into the overall stability of the child and the parents acceptance that the child is attached to and loved by this group here. The parents who come from close families want their child to have that close bond here too.

I encourage parents to bring their parents and any aunts and uncles to the first interview. If any other family member is going to be dropping off or picking up it is essential that they attend the interview.

I want to meet all of them and get a feel for whether or not they agree with the child going into child care and what part they will play in information sharing especially at pick up. I also like to talk to the grandparents about their child’s upbringing. Grandma’s like talking about their own kid as much as they do about their grandkids. It gives me a sense of how the parents family of origin communicate.

If I get a sense that the grandparents or any extended family member isn’t on board with day care but know they can be or will be the ones picking the child up then I won’t go further in interviewing that family. In my experience, it doesn’t work well to transfer the child’s care to someone who doesn’t want them with you in the first place. I’ve had that experience a few times and it ended badly every time.

If they are not feeling it with you they can be an insurmountable obstacle. They may not be the ones who ultimately choose your care but they can submarine your relationship with their own child in the future.

If they like the idea of their child attending your care then the first interview is a good opportunity to explain the specific rules that they will need to abide by such as being on time for pick up and relaying the simple day to day information of their grandkids day.

I like to know the parents educational background and any plans to continue their education in the next few years. If there are daytime classes in the future it can affect the hours the child attends so it’s important to get a feel of how the schedule could change depending on the semesters and seasonal breaks.

Another quick question I ask the parents is if they were in child care when they were a kid. If they were, I ask them what they liked and didn’t like about it. They usually only remember school aged care but some people had long term relationships with their childhood babysitter and show you they respect and admire the person who was there when their parents were unable to care for them.

When we are getting close to the end of the interview I talk to them about food. Food is a very important part of my service so I want to get a feel for how they “do” food in their private lives. I want to know if they cook from scratch and if they are interested in the organic service I offer here.

If they cook and enjoy food as a big part of their family life they will “get” how much effort and time it takes to do the “Sunday Dinner” meals I offer every day. They will appreciate the planning and work involved in making that happen. If they are looking for an organic day care because they choose to do organic meals at home then they already get the task of procuring each individual food one by one and can know what it takes for me to be able to do it in feeding such a large group of children.

If they don’t cook at home and don’t eat a healthy balanced diet then it won’t work for their child to be here. I want children who eat a healthy diet and who will enjoy the home cooked farm style foods we have here. I don’t like food battles. If the child eats a diet of processed foods and junk food they aren’t going to like what I serve.

Mealtime is a BIG part of our day to day life here. We celebrate our food every day. I want kids who can join into the celebration with us and not shun a healthy diet.

If the first interview goes well then I tell them to give me a call in a couple of weeks to schedule the second interview. I will do a follow up blog about the things I like to cover in our next meeting.

The Art of the Interview “Nannyde” Style – Part 1
The Art of the Interview “Nannyde” Style – Part 2

  1. Michael04-20-11

    The use of assessments to effectively evaluate people is a strategic priority for many organizations.

  2. LaQuene07-19-11

    The information relayed in this (part 1 & 2) is wonderful. Many providers and parents really need to read and digest this information. Thank you!

  3. Krista07-16-20

    This is such a wonderful resource and I am so grateful you shared!

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