10 Signs That a Nanny Candidate is Under-Qualified

When a nanny candidate’s resume seems too good to be true, your first instinct is likely to be that you should call her in for an interview immediately, especially if the other resumes you’ve received seem rather lackluster in comparison. However, there are some warning signs that can tip you off to an unqualified candidate whose experience doesn’t quite stack up to what it seemed to be on paper. Whether you’re able to spot it in the interview right away or don’t discover her lack of qualification until she’s begun her trial period, these 10 signs typically indicate that your nanny may not be as qualified as she claims on her resume.

  1. Family and Friends as References – A nanny candidate whose references turn out to be personal ones from friends and family members, rather than professional ones from previous employers, may be attempting to camouflage a serious lack of practical experience.
  2. Questioning Your Kids Yields Negative Reports – During a trial period one of the most effective barometers you’ll have of a potential long-term nanny is a verbal child. If your children are old enough to verbally express themselves and answer direct questions, they could provide just the information about your nanny’s abilities that you’re looking for.
  3. Limited Education – A nanny with years of light babysitting experience but no high school diploma or GED may not be qualified to help older children with homework or provide tutoring services. Carefully consider her education level before extending a permanent offer, along with her speech and grammar skills.
  4. Inconsistent Results – If you return from work every day of a trial period to find wildly varying, completely inconsistent results, you may be dealing with a nanny whose limited qualifications make keeping order a challenge.
  5. She’s Vague About Prior Experience – While a nanny candidate has every right to be vague or to outright refuse to answer personal questions that have no bearing on her ability to perform professionally, it’s wise to be wary of any that don’t provide direct, detailed answers about their work history when pressed.
  6. An Abundance of Mistakes – During a trial period, even a seasoned veteran is still in a period of adjustment. If your trial nanny continues to commit errors that could easily be classified as “rookie mistakes,” then she may not have the experience she implied during the interview. 
  7. No CPR or First Aid Certification – Candidates that make it to the interview process and cannot present proof of CPR and first aid certification are not only unqualified due to their lack of lifesaving skill training, but are also clearly inexperienced. Securing a post without these certifications is next to impossible, so a nanny who claims to have practical experience without any CPR certification may not be entirely truthful.
  8. She Stumbles Through Her Interview – While it’s certainly true that some people simply interview better than others, a nanny who seems to be grasping for answers throughout the interview and struggling to find coherent ways to respond to questions may be trying to cover up a lack of experience.
  9. She’s Fresh From College – If the candidate you’re interviewing has recently graduated with a childcare or early education degree, it’s understandable that you’d want to move her resume to the top of the pile. Keep in mind, however, that classroom training does not equal practical experience, and that she may be a bit inexperienced for the position if she’s never held a childcare position outside of her studies.
  10. She’s Easily Upset or Flustered – A job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone, but a nanny who seems to be completely flustered and is visibly upset at any point during the interview may not be the best choice for a nanny position. After all, nannies need to be unflappable, and should be prepared for all of the chaos that comes with caring for children.

Realizing that your nanny has been untruthful about her level of experience is justifiable grounds for termination or refusal to extend a long-term contract during a trial period. However, simply interviewing a candidate that’s somewhat vague about her experience level but seems to still be a good fit with your family may be an indication that she’s worth working with. Remember, even the most seasoned, experienced veterans had to start somewhere. If you feel that a candidate is competent but inexperienced, she may still be a great choice for your family, depending on your care giving needs.


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