Here are a few pointers to help you through the recruitment process
A trial day is usually part of the nanny interview process. The interview process starts with short-listing applicants' CVs then doing first interviews, before selecting a few candidates for second interviews. Then finally moving on to a trial day with your prospective nanny.
There is no magic number of applicants that any given family should see. Some jobs attract lots of candidates, some jobs very few. There are families who prefer to see a lot of candidates and other families who decide to choose from a smaller candidate pool.
First time nanny employers tend to want to see a lot of candidates before deciding who to employ. This is entirely their choice and totally fine. It is a good idea to register with a couple of nanny agencies, in order to increase the amount of potential applicants, especially if the family have a tight start date deadline or a harder-to-fill role.
One typical pattern seen amongst parents who are new to employing nannies is that they tend to progress very slowly leaving weeks between first and second interviews and then often decide to see a candidate that they interviewed early on in the process, only to discover that this applicant has now been snapped up by another employer. Good nannies don’t stay on the market long.
Nevertheless, it is a big decision for families and the selection of a nanny should not be rushed. You have to feel confident and comfortable that you have made the right choice for your family. Do keep in mind that even once you finish the interview process the nanny may still need to give a month notice to their present employers, so do give yourself plenty of time. Maybe aiming to finish first and second interviews within two weeks if at all possible, leaving yourself time to trial your nanny and allow time for the nannies notice period. The best laid plans do not always work out. Just because you find the nanny of your dreams and are ready to offer, it does not mean the nanny will accept the offer, so always give yourself time to interview other potential nannies so you have other alternatives.
It is never a good idea to take a nanny that you don’t really feel happy with because you are panicking about the required start date looming. Temporary nannies may not be the ideal solution for a lot of parents but in certain cases it is the best choice, as it allows you a breathing space while you continue to search for the right person.
So let’s presume you have gone through first and second interviews at a reasonable speed and selected two nannies to trial before making a final decision. There is no rule that it has to be two short-listed nannies, some parents like to compare or cannot choose between two, but others may just feel they are entirely happy with a particular individual and just want to do the trial day with this one person at this stage, which is of course perfectly sensible.
The trial day is designed so that you can see how the nanny actually performs on the job. It also works the other way in that it allows the nanny an opportunity to see what this family are really like to work for, away from the interview situation. Some candidates interview well, but are not so great performing their nanny duties, whereas some nannies are shy with adults and come alive with the children. So it’s really important not to base everything on the interview.
A trial with your potential new nanny can be a full day or a half day or two half days depending on availability of both the nanny and the family. Some parents want to do the whole day so they can see what the nanny is like in every scenario that comes along, e.g. is the nanny safety conscious on the streets, hygienic with cooking and nappy changes, confident at bath time, fun, engaging and energetic when playing, and able to be calm and relaxing at story time before bed. Every family has slightly different requirements and will be most interested in particular areas of care, this of course also depends on the age of the child or children.
With a small baby it may not be a great idea to walk out of the room leaving your baby with a stranger who they have not bonded with. It’s better to sit together with the baby and some toys and let the nanny take the lead. How does the nanny respond to grumbling or crying? Do they distract your baby, sing songs, or make them laugh? Are they comfortable down on the floor pulling silly faces? How do they respond to tantrums or melt downs. Nannies can give a bottle, change nappies and help at bath time while the parent is alongside.
With older children you may want the nanny to do an activity while you peep in to the room to see how things are going. Always be clear about what you want them to do, they don’t know the routine of your family or child and don’t forget that every family is different, what may be normal to some can be unusual to others.
You might suggest to the nanny sit with the play dough while you cook lunch, or let’s all go to the park. It’s best not to expect an elaborate activity such as cupcake making when the nanny does not know where things are in your kitchen or how to work the oven! Remember a nanny cannot be expected to discipline a child who they do not know as yet, and have not bonded with, so do not expect wonders if your child misbehaves.
After all, it is a trial situation and it is likely that your nanny will perform in a better way once they know your child, the routine, and where things are, but at least the trial will give you a bit of an idea as to what a particular nanny will be like actually on the job.
Some parents do go off and leave nannies with the children during a trial. This may be fine if they are older children or teenagers but in most cases you need to around in order to judge the interaction. If parents feel they are still not sure, and if the nanny is available, then they can take the nanny on a temporary booking for a week or two, in order to decide if they are the right person to make the offer of permanent employment to.
We do encourage parents and nannies to take this opportunity, and we do not charge any nanny agency fee for the one day trial, but we do ask parents if they would kindly pay the nanny for the hours worked if the nannies spend more than a couple of hours working with you on the trial day.
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