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Interviewing Tips for Nanny and Family

Probably 90% of all screening is done via the telephone. If you're working with an agency, let them do as much of this as possible. However, here are a few phone skills that should help all parties.


First impressions are lasting impressions. That’s why the first moments you spend on the phone are critical. Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

1. Answer the phone quickly enough.
"Quickly enough" is generally within 30 seconds. Surveys indicate the phone can ring that long before people begin to get anxious. Surprisingly answering "too quickly" can also make callers uneasy. A general rule is to answer on the second ring. This "buffer" period gives people a moment to get settled & collect their thoughts before speaking.

2. What are your first words?
A friendly greeting, such as "Good morning" is a pleasant way to start a conversation. If that’s your approach, be sure to follow immediately with your name & the purpose of your call.

3. Speak clearly & naturally.
Be sure you are speaking into the telephone. That may seem obvious, but most of us have never heard how we sound on the telephone. Often, people who speak in normal tones face-to-face sound too quiet over the telephone. Test your phone voice periodically. Ask a friend to listen to you on a call.

4. Choosing words well.
Some words turn people off instantly, so don’t use them. Avoid the following words & phrases that invite folks to behave in a difficult way.

"You have to...."
A person’s natural response is "I don’t have to do anything!" Instead say "Would you please...."
"I’ll try."
This approach is non-committal and makes people think you are giving them the brush off. Instead say "I’ll have to check on that"
This word often negates everything that was said before. Instead use however which offers a smoother transition to new alternatives and options.
"It’s not my policy."
People may boil over when this is mentioned. Instead point out what your rules are without using the word policy. Such words as procedure or approach often work better.
"You should have..."
This remark will provoke a quick comeback of: "NO! You should have told me..." Instead, after the complaint has been resolved, explain the correct procedure in a non-accusatory way......Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it can make a difference.

5. Fast talkers beware!
Any speech habit that calls attention to itself is undesirable. This is especially true of the speed at which you speak. Speaking too fast or too slowly can detract from the content of your message. Talk too fast, and your listener may miss an important point. Talk too slowly, and people may stifle a yawn while waiting for you to get to the point. Or worse, your listener will stop listening. What’s right? Take your cue from the other person. If that person is a fast talker, it’s probably OK to speak quickly; he or she is used to it. But if your listener speaks slowly, take the hint & slow down.

6. Be Prepared!
Have a list of questions and concerns available near the telephone. These may cover the children (ages, school, activities, temperament, etc.), the household (occupations and hours of the parents), job related (define "Light housework," cooking, shopping), and home environment (separate bedroom, bath, use of car, share telephone or get your own line among others). Candidates should be prepared to answer questions about themselves, including schooling, experience, interests, hobbies, driving records, and personal habits such as smoking.

7. Treat every caller like your best customer.
Impressions of you are forming with every word you speak. Make the most of these crucial first few moments!

Other Resources:

State Unemployment Insurance Agencies 5 Tips to Rock the Telephone Interview
State Unemployment Insurance Agencies Art of the Nanny Job Interview
State Unemployment Insurance Agencies Important Nanny Employment Forms