How To Hire A Nanny

May 09, 2023

how to hire a nanny

A nanny is a person that is employed, usually in the home, to provide support for parents in caring for their children. A nanny is usually responsible for looking after the children in the house, providing care for their physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs.

A nanny has to be able to work with the parents to provide this care, and they need to have certain skills and competencies to be able to complete the role to the right standard, and it can be difficult to find these qualities in an applicant.

In this article, we will look at the different skills and abilities that a nanny needs to have, and how best you can test for them. We will discuss technical skills (where needed), as well as aptitudes and soft skills that are essential to success in the role - and what pre-employment tests might be best to use when you are filtering through applicants.

What should a nanny be able to do?

When advertising for a nanny, an employer will have some very particular tasks in mind for day-to-day work. In general, a nanny tends to be responsible for planning and preparing meals, providing transport to school and social activities, and planning educational and fun outings.

This means that the nanny is the first point of contact for the child through set hours in the day. They will be responsible for their health and safety in the home, developing rules and boundaries in collaboration with the parents. They will need to be able to model safe behavior and use appropriate discipline when required.

The nanny will often be responsible for the meals and snacks that the child or children will eat throughout the day, and they may be asked to shop for the items that are needed as well as creating balanced meal plans and preparing the food to serve to the children.

A nanny will need to be able to perform essential first aid and some CPR. They may need to transport children to appointments with the doctor and administer medication.

One of the most important tasks of a nanny is to do age-appropriate activities that are designed to help develop children intellectually, whether this is in a preschool setting or through helping with homework.

They might be responsible for transporting children to groups and play centers, and they will need to be able to help develop the child creatively with things like arts and crafts, and through playing games and sports.

In some settings, the nanny might be responsible for some of the housework, such as the laundry, and they may need to develop and monitor the family schedule to ensure that every family member is where they need to be at the right time.

Skills to look for in a nanny

how to hire a nanny

With so many different caring tasks involved in being a nanny, there are some aptitudes and technical skills that you should look for in a nanny too. Some of the skills that are important for a successful nanny include:

  • Reading Comprehension: a nanny needs to be literate enough to be able to help develop a child with their learning, so they need to be confident when reading and understanding the written word.

  • Calendar/Scheduling Software: dealing with multiple appointments, groups, and activities through the day - and especially when there are multiple people in the family to organize - is easier with digital calendars for scheduling software.

  • Active Listening: a nanny needs to be able to listen to the wishes of the parents during the work day, to ensure that the children are being looked after in the right way. They also need to be able to listen to the children to ensure that all their needs are being met.

  • Judgment and Decision Making: there are many little (and not so little) decisions that need to be made when looking after a child, and a nanny needs to have good judgment skills and be able to use all the information that is available to them to be able to make a good, balanced decision.

  • Persuasion and Negotiation: working with children and ensuring that they can follow the rules and do what they need to do at the right time means having skills in both persuasion and negotiation.

Useful abilities for a nanny

Aside from the above skills, there are several different abilities that you might want to look for in a nanny. Some of the abilities that you should be looking for when you are hiring a nanny include:

  • Oral Comprehension and Expression: a nanny needs to be able to communicate effectively, both with the parents and with the children that are in their care. This means that they need to be able to understand spoken words, and be able to express themselves.

  • Written Comprehension and Expression: in the same way, a nanny needs to be able to read instructions and information, and they will need to share written information. This might include reports and emails as well as meal plans and schedules.

  • Deductive Reasoning: as part of the decision making process, logical thinking needs to be used, and the ability to make reasoned deductions through logic helps with good judgment.

  • Flexibility: there are a lot of activities that a nanny needs to be involved in with the family, so they need to be flexible enough to move from one topic or project to another.

  • Selective Attention: selective attention is the ability to be able to focus on one thing. This is especially important when looking after children, as they require dedicated attention to make sure all their needs are being met.

Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a nanny?

Soft skills are sometimes described as transferable skills, and they usually describe the interpersonal skills that are used when working with others in different capacities.

Getting an idea of soft skill proficiency when sifting through a resume, or even through interviews, can be challenging - but using soft skill pre-employment assessments are a good way to gauge each candidate’s proficiency.

Some of the soft skills tests that might be useful when hiring a nanny include:

  • Communication: the communication skills test puts the candidate into different work-related situations, and they need to decide what the best course of action is to solve the problem. This is where the candidate can demonstrate the way they prefer to communicate at work.

  • Adaptability: to demonstrate flexibility and focus, the candidate can solve work-related problems by choosing the best course of action from a list of different options. The scenarios are all about being able to work on different things in different ways.

  • Leadership: leadership skills are about making the right decisions, and also knowing when to delegate, and how to negotiate and persuade. Leadership skills are useful in childcare when safety and development need to be monitored.

  • Teamwork: a nanny might have sole charge of the children in their care, but they also need to work as part of a cohesive team with the parents to ensure that the children are getting their needs met in the right way.

  • Time Management: time management is a big part of the role of a nanny; they need to manage their own time as well as the schedules of the rest of the family. They need to be able to monitor the children, make meals, and arrange things like transport and social activities, too.

Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a nanny?

how to hire a nanny

The nanny role might have a focus on interpersonal or soft skills, but certain aptitudes and technical abilities are also important - and the below tests could be used to assess these skills and aptitudes.

  • Emotional Intelligence: emotional intelligence is a measurement of the way people interact and learn, and it is used to evaluate intelligence in a more fluid way than the more traditional IQ tests. With a role that needs emotional maturity and intelligence like a nanny, it is a great aptitude test to use.

  • Verbal Reasoning: the verbal reasoning test evaluates a potential nanny on their ability to read and understand written data, and use that information to make a balanced decision - which demonstrates their written communication and reading comprehension skills.

  • Numerical Reasoning: a nanny might need to use numbers when they are preparing meals, and if they are going grocery shopping. Numerical reasoning tests numeracy skills and whether a candidate can use basic calculations to make decisions based on numerical data.

  • Abstract Reasoning: this is a test of logical thinking based on unfamiliar information, and it is often used in leadership roles or where decision making is important. Candidates need to make decisions based on sequences, they need to spot patterns, and then they need to spot the missing item from the multiple-choice options.

  • Microsoft Excel: software-wise, the scheduling and planning might be on specific software - but a good working knowledge of the Microsoft suite and especially Excel will make the nanny more productive, especially if they need to record a lot of data about the children.

Using all the above tests when hiring for a nanny might cover all the needed skills and abilities, but it would probably be overwhelming for the candidates and provide a lot of data for you as an employer.

The test battery that we would recommend when you are hiring for a nanny includes:

  • Verbal Reasoning: the verbal reasoning test is a series of questions that are based on passages of text. The candidate needs to read the passage, and use the information included to answer the question that follows, choosing the right answer from the multiple choice options available.

  • Communication: the communication test uses work-related scenarios to evaluate how a candidate would use their communication skills to solve a problem. The candidate is given a situation, and several different possible courses of action to choose to solve the problem.

  • Emotional Intelligence: this is a multiple-choice test that is all about perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions, and the candidate needs to choose which answer best fits the question. The questions are based on different emotional responses to things.

For more information about hiring a nanny, our nanny job knowledge test page has some more details that will help you find the perfect candidate.