Classifying Your Childcare - Questions You Should be Asking - PART THREE
Interviews are hard enough but when it comes to finding childcare, chances are you're more confused or nervous than ever. We've already talked about making sure you have the *right* childcare for your needs and how to find the right childcare. Now let's chat about what questions you should be asking!
First things first - unless your child is a newborn, DON'T have them present during an interview. Your child will not only provide for utter distraction but kids are shy and kids are weird. It is extremely uncomfortable if your child decides to say something off putting to a potential candidate i.e. "I don't like you!" or "I want you to go away!". The initial interview is not the time or the place for a potential candidate to meet your child - that will come later once you've narrowed down the candidates and you have had time to chat with your child and explain the situation. Plus, a candidate coming for an interview is going to expect an interview, not a test run. IF you decide you like this person and you DO want them to have a test session with your child, DON'T immediately ask them to stay. I once had a family decide they liked me and then left me alone with their children for several hours! I was totally unprepared but I felt like I might lose the job if I said no. NOT COOL!
Once you've narrowed down several people, make sure you meet them in person. A lot of parents want to conduct interviews at their home which is totally normal but a coffee shop works great if you're iffy about having strangers to your house. Start off by talking a little bit about your family and your child. Just some basics to start will do - Age of child/children, what you love most about your kid, what you do for a living and what your spouse, if applicable, does. Then let the questioning begin!
A nice interview over coffee is ALWAYS a good start. Feel free to offer to pay - it could be a good way to show what kind of employer you might be.
What is their age and where about town do they live? // You might think that asking their is too personal but here's the thing, it's not. I'm in my thirties and I look like I'm in my early twenties and this has caused some issues for me, issues that could have been cleared up if my age would have been known. I had one family where the mother always micromanaged me, giving me the sense that she didn't think I knew what I was doing. Turns out she thought I was only 21! That's a big difference from the 30 years I actually was and the only 6 year age difference between us. She immediately shifted her attitude towards me after that. The area of town that they live in is important as well. If their commute is an hour away, that might make it difficult for rush hour morning start times or last minute availability.
How many years experience have they had in childcare and how many families have they worked with? // A candidate that has worked for 1 family but had 8 years of experience with them might sit better with what you are looking for than someone that has worked with 9 families but only for the past 2 years.
What were some of their duties with their previous families? // This question is to give you some insight into what that candidates actual experience has been. Again, if you're looking for a nanny and that person has had 5 years of experience but only as a Mother's Helper, that might not be the person for you. However, that might be exactly what you are looking for if you are wanting to spend the first couple of months with them as a Mother's Helper and slowly transition into having them stay with the child alone.
What are their long term expectations in regards to your family? // When I started with my Nanny Family, I knew (and said as much) that I wanted to be with one family for several years. I've stated to other families that I'm only available for nighttime babysitting when applicable to my schedule.
You want to reiterate any specifics that you had in your ad (if you placed one) such as hours, salary, if they have a valid drivers license, etc. Then feel free to chat with them a bit. Ask them about their family or where they are originally from. See what their hobbies are or what their favorite food might be. This isn't so you can gather info it's so you can get a vibe. Your parental gut gets you through some tough times with your children, let it guide you through finding the right fit for your family. A candidate can have all the right answers to the questions above but if they seem off when it comes to small talk, they might not be the right fit for you. On the flip side, they might not be the most perfect candidate resume wise but if you end up chatting with them for over 30 minutes, it might be crystal clear how easily they would fit into your family.
Just like scheduling interviews, make sure you move fast on securing your childcare. See all of your top 5 even if the 2nd one is *THE* one. That way, you'll be able to make your decision confidently. Make sure to let candidates know that you'll reach out to them in a week IF it looks like it might work out. There's no need to call and tell them they didn't get the job.
Finally, you'll want to schedule a home visit so that your new childcare provider can get a feel for your home, meet any pets, and of course, have a playdate with your child. Schedule it for an hour when you know that your kid won't be hungry or tired and PAY the new provider for their time. Yes, you'll be there but you may be pulling them away from another paying job and it shows the you're fair and have common sense.
Go ahead and cheers to your success! You did it!
I hope this three part series helps you find the best childcare for your family and your needs. It can seem overwhelming at times but once you find someone that clicks, it's all worth it. As always, if there's something I didn't cover, email me! You're probably not the only one with that question or concern. Good Luck!