With a tanking economy, the nanny job market has become increasingly competitive, and with good reason. Nanny jobs are rewarding, pay well, and offer the kind of fulfillment few people ever achieve in their careers. But nanny work is not for everyone, and liking kids or just wanting extra money aren’t enough to make you a good nanny. Good nannies have extensive hands on or academic experience with children and come to the job interview and job prepared, organized, and confident. The nanny job interview can still, however, be an intimidating experience full of screaming children, strange houses filled with unfamiliar animals, and the occasional crazy interviewer. Regardless of who you are interviewing with, here’s what you should never do in a nanny job interview.
Don’t Badmouth Previous Employers
It can be tempting, particularly if you’ve developed a good rapport with the person interviewing you, to air the dirty laundry of your previous bosses. And if you’re concerned that a previous boss will give you a bad reference or if you’re leaving a job you hate, the temptation increases exponentially. Avoid this at all costs! Badmouthing your previous employers makes you look resentful, bitter, and unprofessional. When asked why you’re leaving a position, you can give a noncommittal response like, “I wanted to take on a new challenge” or, “I needed different hours”, rather than proclaiming, “Momboss was crazy, the child was a sociopath, and Dadboss is into internet porn.” Be a professional and don’t blab previous bosses’ secrets, no matter how juicy or bizarre.
Don’t Talk Religion
Some nannies mistakenly believe that being a Christian or some other common religion will make them more likely to get a job. But not everyone is a Christian, just as not everyone is an atheist or Jew. Save religious discussions for your friends. If your interviewer asks about your religious preferences you can briefly tell her about your religion (if you’re comfortable doing so), but don’t start preaching, and don’t judge the family’s religious preferences or lack thereof.
Don’t Talk Money
There’s an old saying that whoever brings up money first in salary negotiations loses. Don’t ask how much money you’ll be making; this makes it look like you’re only in it for the money. Similarly, don’t ask about vacation time or sick days. Save this for the second interview or an email response if you get the job offer. These are important factors that need to be discussed, but avoid them till you know the family wants to hire you.
Don’t Use Bad Grammar or Curse
Nanny interviews can be misleadingly informal. I’ve had new mothers meet me at the door in their pajamas. But this doesn’t mean professionalism goes out the window. Present yourself as an intelligent, sophisticated person who will be a positive influence and role model. Don’t curse like a sailor and behave like someone who needs to go back to seventh grade grammar class.
Don’t Be Sloppy
Like any other interview, you need to dress appropriately for the nanny interview. You may be playing with children, so pants or dark colored clothes are a good idea. However, this is not license to show up in sweats and three days without a shower. Look like a professional.
A nanny interview can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember the single most important factor in getting the job is commitment to and rapport with the children. You should be showcasing this every chance you get. Good luck in your job search!