Assessing Personality Traits in San Diego Nannies
When you’re conducting a nanny search either on your own or through an agency, here are a few ways to assess personality traits in a nanny candidate:
Longevity in previous jobs.
Look at her employment history and remember that past performance is the best predictor of future performance. You want a nanny who has the maturity to make a solid commitment, is comfortable maintaining a routine, is predictable, and who has a stable work history. As owner of Safe and Sound Nannies I look for a nanny candidate who stayed in each of her jobs for at least one year, but I prefer 2 years in each job. Also look for valid, plausible reasons as to why she left, (preferably not personality conflicts with employer) and confirm those with references.
Excellent references who return your call promptly
I have learned that how quickly a reference returns your call is a good predictor of the quality of the nanny. Moms who loved their nanny are excited to spread the word, help the nanny find a job, and help another mom find a great nanny. If the previous employer takes too long to call you back, it may be a sign of ambivalence, or she may be hoping you’ll give up and she won’t need to talk with you. I rarely send an e-mail when checking a reference, because I don’t know if it’s a valid reference and I want to hear the inflection in her voice as she discusses the nanny. I also call references immediately before the nanny and the employer have had a chance to talk, just in case it’s not a valid reference.
Behavior before and during an interview.
A calm demeanor suggests emotional stability. Appropriate dress suggests good judgment. Arriving early shows good planning. Bringing along a resume, references, and/or a scrapbook shows good organizational abilities, good planning, attention to detail, and emotional investment in the job. The ability to listen and take in information during the in-person interview shows good interpersonal skills, patience, and the ability to take direction and respect authority. Good eye contact suggests trust, trustworthiness and confidence. Turning off her cell phone before the interview shows good judgment, planning and respect for authority. Sticking to the topic and not rambling shows ability to focus attention. Asking intelligent questions shows genuine interest in the job, experience, confidence and maturity. Not dominating the interview shows good boundaries, good self-monitoring, patience and respect. Appropriately volunteering pertinent information about herself shows confidence and good judgment.
Interaction with your child during interview.
When the nanny asks to wash her hands before interacting with your child, she shows good judgment, planning, respect for your child and family, and knowledge of hygiene issues. Bending her knees so that she is at eye level with your child rather than bending at the waist and towering over your child shows caring, empathy, and an understanding of how to put your child at ease. Talking to your child in a way that generates speech shows that she can engage with your child, draw him out and listen with empathy.
You can also use a personality screen designed specifically to screen nannies and based on 13 years of nanny placements to give you more information about your nanny candidate.
Ann Wycoff, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and owner of Safe and Sound Nannies, a full service agency in San Diego. Dr. Wycoff also provides nanny hiring consultation to families in all cities who would like to use her professional advice and hiring tools.