Looking for a nanny can be a long, exhausting process. Once you've been through the interview and found a nanny you really connect with, your first instinct may be to hire her on the spot. But no matter how much you like a potential nanny, you need to first check her references. A candidate might sell herself well, but a former employer's opinion and good reference is invaluable. If you've never hired a nanny before, you may be unsure how best to check references, but you don't need to worry. It is an essential step, but not a difficult one.
You should always ask an applicant for at least two childcare references that are not family members. Former employers are especially great references to consult. If a candidate seems reluctant to give references, this should be a warning sign, though it is reasonable that she ask you not contact her current employer if she hasn't given notice. Every applicant should expect you to check her references, and if she doesn't, she may not be someone you would like to hire.
When contacting a reference, introduce yourself, keep the call short and be prepared to call again at a more convenient time. Ask unbiased questions and listen carefully to the person's tone and enthusiasm. Although many will not definitively say not to hire someone, it may be easy to infer from the way someone talks about the candidate. Listen carefully and try not to interject.
If you want to understand how your nanny might react to a certain situation or task, don't be afraid to ask the reference. You can make a list of certain questions to ask to ensure that you make the most of your time speaking with a reference. Keep your questions consistent between each person you speak with in order to check for any differences in answers.
Check references to ensure that the person you are bringing into your child's life is the right one. It can reinforce your gut feeling about a candidate and help ensure that you find a nanny who will fit into your life. For more information, check out the links on the next page.