Caregiver Interview Tips

by Claire Minnaar

I have recently joined Twitter…I have been building websites for a living for almost 8 years now and yes, I only got onto Twitter now (momtrepreneurSA) and I am following some amazing South African Moms. One of the Moms tweeted about an interview with her nanny and what she should ask when making sure the lady she was interviewing was the best one for the job and her child.

So, I’ve put together some tips on how to choose your care giver (nanny, au pair, baby sitter, etc…) to help other Moms out there who are either returning to work, starting up their own business or just need an extra hand.

Before the Interview

Be prepared for the interview and any possible questions that may be asked. You need to be assertive and prepared for this interview as this is the person who will be caring for your child and you want to have all your facts ready. Begin by noting or recording the following:

  • What you are prepared to pay. Make sure you have done research and contacted a few companies to know what the going rate is.
  • The hours that will be expected of the care giver. Not every care giver will be able to get to work at a particular time due to transport issues or other commitments.
  • Expected duties for care giving as well as any other duties you will require, such as house cleaning, cooking, walking the dogs, doing your hair and toenails, etc… You want to be clear on what you expect from her and vice versa.
  • How you would like the care giver to dress. My nanny requested an overall, especially when Ethan was smaller as he would puke all over her. As Ethan has grown, he now plays outside more and gets dirtier. Purchasing an outfit for a nanny is good idea for her to keep her clothes clean. If you choose to go for an au pair, you may opt to go for a different dress code.
  • List all medication conditions and dietary requirements. This is very important – you want to remember to ask and explain what creams, medicines, special foods, and so on must be given to your child and the care giver must be able to apply or provide the care required for any special needs.
  • Car / transport availability. If you are planning on using an au pair, transport is something that is usually included in the job description. You need to choose whether you will be providing the transport or if they will have to use their personal car.
  • Leave and sick leave. Every employee is entitled to leave and sick leave, so make sure you are prepared for that question and have a good, legal answer. It is worth checking out the South African Labour Department website for more info. Be prepared to disclose sick leave pay – again, consult the labour law if unsure of this particular aspect.
  • Overtime expectations, rules and payment. Make sure you know what you are prepared to pay for any babysitting services after hours.
  • What accommodation is available or included for the job. This would obviously only apply if you were looking for a live-in care giver.
  • What notice period is required should they wish to leave. Typically, a full calendar month is acceptable.

The Interview

  1. It’s important to be yourself when interviewing. The potential care giver needs to know who she is dealing with and who she will have to work with regularly.
  2. Make sure to make her feel comfortable by making a cup of coffee and sitting down and asking the very basic questions to begin with such as her name, where she lives, her kids and their ages, hobbies, etc…
  3. Preferably, ask whoever is organising the interview to request that the care giver bring along references and certificates.

Here are questions you could consider asking during the interview once settled in:

  • What was your last position or where did you last work? What was your reason for leaving?
  • Do you have a CV that you could provide? If not, can you tell me about what qualifications or certificates you have? Take note about any First Aid skills – that’s always a bonus!
  • Do you have any criminal records?
  • What previous experience do you have with children? Ask about ages, special needs, etc…
  • Are you a smoker?
  • Have you brought any references that I may read?
  • Are you looking for a long or short term position?
  • Are you prepared to babysit on some days / evenings / afternoons / weekends?
  • Would you be OK to do the following duties? (refer to duties you setup before the interview)
  • Can you cook basic meals and / or simple children’s meals (like frying an egg, making toast, frying chips, etc…)?
  • How will you be getting to work should you get the position? (only applicable for a live out post)
  • Do you have a boyfriend or lots of friends that will visit you should you get the position? (only applicable for a live IN position)
  • Who will be looking after your children while you are at work? Will you need to bring your children to work if your care giver / baby sitter is not available?
  • What would you do in situation X? (propose different scenarios and let the care giver think on her feet)
  • Do you like animals? (particularly important if you have animals and require her to feed or even walk the dogs)
  • What kinds of activities would you do with my child / children? (again, let her think on her feet – this kind of a question will give you an idea of her creativity)


  • There are quite a few more questions you could ask but, by this stage, you will more than likely have an idea on whether you like the care giver or not.
  • Make sure to trust your gut, or you will regret it later. Perhaps ask someone else to sit in with you on the interview to get a second opinion.
  • Try getting at least 15 – 30 minutes where the potential care giver can interact with your child / children. Remember that not all kids will warm to a person quickly, so don’t judge the care giver completely on your child’s / children’s reactions, but rather on how she interacts with them.
  • An additional consideration would be to do a credit check to ensure you are aware on the potential candidate’s financial situation.
  • If unsure, opt for a second interview.

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