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Tips on Hiring Nannies

The search for a nanny can be daunting, but these tips can make hiring a nanny easier.
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WebMD Feature

Unfortunately, it's not likely Mary Poppins, Supernanny Jo Frost, or even Nanny McPhee is going to show up at your door the morning you're ready to return to work from maternity leave. The search for a nanny can be daunting and the thought of leaving your newborn or toddler with a virtual stranger can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. WebMD now makes hiring a nanny easier with tried-and-true tips from those in-the-know.

While many reputable agencies are willing to do the work for you, you can also recruit, interview and hire potential nannies on your own, starting with:

Recruiting

Seek referrals when hiring nannies. "Ask everyone you have ever met and tell everybody you know that you are looking for a nanny," suggests Barbara Marcus, a founder of Parents in a Pinch, a child care placement agency in Boston. "The best way to find someone is through word of mouth," agrees Guy Maddalone, CEO of GTM Household Employment, an upstate New York-based consulting group for household employers and the author of How to Hire a Nanny.

Know what/who you are looking for. Before you even start the interview process, develop a written description of your nanny position, Maddalone says. "Is it child care? The house and cleanliness? Tutoring or education-focused?" From there, develop a list of skills you would like your nanny to have. "Think about what attributes would prove they can do the things that the position requires," Maddalone says.

Solicit resumes from candidates.Remember that "many fabulous nannies don't have professional resumes, but a resume is important to see how long they stayed at their previous position(s)," Marcus says. That said, "make sure the candidate has child care experience, as you don't want her learning on your child."

Interviewing

Interview all nanny candidates you consider hiring. No ifs, ands, or buts, "every nanny should be interviewed face to face," Marcus says. "Some people, especially professional women, run an interview like they would in the corporate world, which is a mistake because nannies are a different breed," she explains. "People should go through an extensive process because it's really worth it," she says. "Do not go on face-value impressions."

Here are some tips:

Don't ask a potential nanny about her life goals for the next five years. "This is not a question that will tell you anything about her," she says.

Instead, devise scenarios to see how she would handle things that may come up on the job. Ask the nanny candidate what she would do if she made lunch for your 3-year-old and he or she refused to eat it, or what he would do if your child refuses to share with another child at the park.

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