How to Hire a Nanny in 6 Steps

With a little time and effort, hiring a nanny does not have to be a stressful process for your family. You’ll need to determine exactly what tasks you want your nanny to perform and choose reputable job boards on which to search for applicants–some cater to nannies specifically and have background and reference checking options. As you decide how much you want to pay, keep in mind that the cost of a nanny is more expensive than daycare because you receive one-on-one care.

To increase your reach, consider ZipRecruiter. You can post your nanny job ad on 100+ job boards at once, and take advantage of pre-made job description templates so you don’t have to create your own. Start posting your nanny job ad for free in minutes!

Visit ZipRecruiter

1. Write a Nanny Job Description

The first step to finding a nanny is to figure out exactly what you need the nanny to do. Depending on the age of your child, you will have different needs. Families with a toddler may need a nanny to be at their house during working hours so the parents have time to focus on their jobs. Families with school-aged children may need a nanny to take their kids to school, pick them up in the afternoon, and help them with their homework while giving them a healthy snack.

Here are some typical duties you should expect from a nanny, regardless of your child’s age:

  • Generally caring for your child
  • Cleaning the child’s living spaces
  • Preparing meals and snacks for your child
  • Taking your child to and from school, as well as other activities and appointments
  • Watching over your child to ensure their safety

After you’ve determined your specific requirements for a nanny, it’s time to develop a job description that identifies those needs. You will want to be clear about what you’re looking for in a nanny, including any required prior experience. Your job description should include some relevant keywords, too, so that candidates searching for a nanny job find your posting. Here’s a sample nanny job description you can use and modify.

It’s also a good idea to figure out your budget for a nanny and include that in your job description—you’ll likely receive more resumes if applicants know how much you’re paying. While you can find a qualified nanny for under $20 per hour, how much you need to pay will vary based on your location, how many children you have, and whether you’re looking for a part-time, full-time, or live-in nanny.

2. Post Job Ad & Review Applicants

Just like hiring any other employee, hiring a nanny will require that you post a job ad to find qualified candidates. You may not be familiar with posting jobs and that’s OK—a recruitment platform like ZipRecruiter can walk you through every step, helping you post your job to multiple sites and sending you qualified candidates within minutes.

When you receive applications, review the candidate’s qualifications and see how well they fit what you need in a nanny. If you think someone lacks the proper skills, reject them on the job board so they know they’re no longer in consideration.

For the qualified candidates, pick up the phone and call them. You don’t need to have a full interview—you’ll schedule that in the next step—but speak with them briefly to get a better idea of their qualifications and see if you have rapport. If you have a good conversation with them, move on to the next step.

3. Schedule Interviews

When you have a good feeling about someone you’ve called, ask them to meet you for an interview. Don’t schedule every applicant for an interview. That would take too much of your time. Narrow down your choices to the most qualified candidates, keeping your interview list to around five.

Interviewing nanny candidates should not be as structured as a high-level job interview for a corporate position. You want to approach this more like a conversation where you’re getting to know each other. There are certainly some questions you’ll want to ask:

  • How long have you been caring for children?
  • What age of children have you cared for?
  • Are you trained in CPR or first aid?
  • Have you been vaccinated (if you have requirements around that)?
  • Why are you leaving your current nanny position?
  • How do you handle difficult children?
  • Have you encountered any childcare or medical emergencies?
  • What was your longest stay with a family?
  • How flexible is your schedule?
  • Tell me about how you discipline a child.

Even though you’re hiring a nanny, you’re still conducting a hire, which means you need to follow legal guidelines. You cannot ask questions about applicants’:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Religious affiliation
  • Sexual orientation
  • Marital status
  • Disability
  • Arrest record (only in some states)

If you think a particular applicant has the skills you’re looking for, have them meet your child. Watch how they interact with your child and if your child takes to them willingly. Try not to intrude but get a genuine sense of how the nanny interacts with your child and see how natural their bond feels.

4. Call References

After interviewing your top candidates, you’ll be able to narrow down your choices even further. Try to keep your final choices to just two or three potential nannies. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with too many options and end up with analysis paralysis.

Ask each of the final candidates for their references, if you haven’t already. Make sure you get the most recent nanny reference. References will speak about the nanny’s work ethic and ability to manage their duties from a recent perspective, giving you a better idea of what the nanny is like today.

With references, you want to have a conversation. But you also want to make sure you at least get answers to the following questions:

  • Why did you choose to hire this nanny?
  • How did they interact with your children?
  • Are there any red flags I should know?
  • Why did they leave?
  • Were they always reachable and punctual?
  • What did your child love most about this nanny?

5. Run a Background Check

Your ability to run a background check can depend on the type of employee you’re hiring. With a nanny, you can run a general background screen to make sure they do not have a criminal record. Check your state laws about whether you can run a background check before or after making a job offer. Some states require employers to run background checks only after making a formal job offer.

To run a background check, you’ll need the individual’s written permission. When you locate a background check agency, they can provide you with a form to have the candidate sign. The company will run a background check and give you results within a few days. You should also check the National Sex Offender Registry.

6. Make a Hire

Now that you’ve narrowed down your nanny choices, spoken with references, and run a background check, it’s time to make your decision. While only you can determine who is the right choice for you and your child, make sure you choose a nanny you feel comfortable with and your child seems to enjoy. You are trusting this person with the most precious thing in your life—do not settle and trust your instincts.

Make a formal, written offer to the nanny of your choice. When they accept the offer, let the other candidates know you have hired someone else. You should also have an employment agreement that you both sign, laying out the terms and conditions of their employment with you.

Here’s where things can get complicated and where you may want to discuss your options with a lawyer. When you hire a nanny, you become an employer, which means you need to stay compliant with employment laws and payments, including paying nanny taxes.

You will need to prepare and file Form SS-4 with the IRS. This gives you a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) that you use when filing paperwork and paying quarterly taxes. You may also be required to get a license from your state or city, as well as carry workers’ compensation insurance. You will also need to run regular payroll to pay your nanny, making appropriate deductions for Medicare, Social Security, and taxes. To help you handle these complex tasks, check out our list of the best nanny payroll services.


Bottom Line

Hiring a nanny can be simple and painless when you take the right steps. Be honest and upfront with applicants about what you need and don’t be afraid to ask probing questions. By following these steps, you will find a nanny who is committed to your child and family.

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