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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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Interviewing continued...

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.

You also want to get at what their child-care style is, she says. "You want someone who will listen to you," she says. "Some nannies are very professional and have a way of doing things and you need to psych that out," she says. For example, "if you are an active family that loves to get outdoors and -- no matter what the weather -- you want your baby in the park, you need to make sure the nanny is on the same page."

Tip: Give your nanny candidate a trial run: Find an excuse to leave the candidate alone with your child for three or four minutes and see what they do.

Check references when hiring nannies. Just do it, experts stress." You want verifiable, objective references" Marcus says. Remember that "being a mother is great, except it's not objective or verifiable." Call all written references.

When checking references, "bring up all the things that percolated during the interview," Maddalone says. For example, ask a nanny's past employer how the nanny juggled stress and multiple priorities. "You really want to get the reference to open up and be focused around your requirements."

Run background checks when hiring nannies. While many agencies run fairly extensive background checks, parents can do this as well, experts say. "Check Social Security numbers and verify their educational references," Marcus says. Some people may feel it's important to get a credit report since nannies will be in the home unsupervised. It's also important to run a background check to make sure a nanny candidate doesn't have a criminal history. Some companies, including Marcus', can do all this for you.

Maddalone suggests conducting a drug test on potential nannies. "Go to a drug store and buy a self-testing kit," he says. Also check the sexual offender child registry. The state of California makes all of this relatively simple for parents with www.trustline.org, a database of nannies and babysitters that have cleared criminal background checks.

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