When hiring a nanny, you’ll first need to determine what tasks you want them 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. Below, we walk you through the six steps you’ll want to follow.
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Step 1: Write a Nanny Job Description
The first step is to figure out exactly what you need the nanny to do. Depending on the age of your child, you will have different needs.
As a guide, 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 and other activities and appointments
- Watching over your child to ensure their safety
It’s crucial to be clear about what you’re looking for in a nanny, including any required prior experience or CPR and First Aid certification. Your nanny job description should also specify information about the work schedule and outline the compensation and benefits package, including the hourly pay. Here’s a sample nanny job description you can use and modify.
Learn more by checking out our full guide on how to write a job description.
Setting a Salary for the Nanny
It’s also a good idea to set a fair and competitive salary for a nanny and include that in your job description—you’ll likely receive more resumes if applicants know how much you’re paying. 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.
As per Salary.com, a professional nanny would typically make $21 per hour. While you can find a qualified nanny for lower than that, the quality of your candidates will differ depending on your offer.
Step 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.
Here are some top websites to help you find a nanny:
If you’re not familiar with posting jobs, then use a recruitment platform like ZipRecruiter. It can walk you through every step, helping you post your job to multiple sites and sending you qualified candidates within minutes. Find out more in our What Is ZipRecruiter article, or check out our guide to the best free job posting websites for more recommendations.
When you receive applications, review the candidate’s qualifications and see how well they fit your requirements. 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.
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. There are some illegal questions to avoid in an interview around subjects such as:
- Religious affiliation
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
- 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.
Step 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.
Pro Tip: When speaking with a candidate’s references, it’s important to ensure that you ask some of 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?
Step 5: Run a Background Check
Your ability to run a background check will 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.
Check out our list of top background check companies for help.
Step 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 spending time with. 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.
Paying Your Nanny Correctly
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.
How to Hire a Nanny Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The Fair Labor Standards Act or FLSA says that nannies should be paid a minimum hourly wage of no less than $7.25, while youth employees must be paid $4.25. Note also that some states may have a higher minimum wage requirement. The average live-in nanny cost is $670 per week, while a live-out nanny earns $766 weekly.
Finding a nanny can take time—it usually takes one to two months to go through the hiring process. Depending on your needs, it can be difficult to find the best fit for your family. However, it’s crucial that you go through each step of the hiring process thoroughly.
Some top qualities to find in your nanny include dependability, punctuality, and an authentic passion for children. You may also want to find someone who values the importance of child development—childcare classes are a way to develop this. Hiring a nanny with certifications in training and safety courses is also a plus.
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.