In Part 1 of this article we discussed two of five non-personality factors that help determine your nanny’s success. Below we review the remaining three elements: Motivations and maturity, private life and character.
Factor #3. Motivations and maturity. With an au pair candidate, you will want to know what is motivating her to become an au pair. Girls who are here just to have a good time, to escape their lives at home, to illegally immigrate to the US, or find a husband to legalize their move, are at risk for not prioritizing their childcare responsibilities. If you want someone who puts her job first, then I’d recommend “weeding out” these girls in round one.
With regard to nannies, some choose this field because they think it will be easy, they haven’t developed any professional skills, or they can’t figure out what else to do. A nanny who has already made childcare her profession, and has spent years honing her skills, may be a more stable and reliable candidate than someone who has not made childcare their chosen career. (She may also be stodgy and bossy, which are also considerations!) For both au pairs and nannies, level of maturity (which may have no correlation to age), stage of life and activity level also impact her motivation to do a good job.
Factor #4. Private life. Sometimes, seemingly irrelevant issues can crop up and cause problems, especially between nanny and parent. These include your nanny’s own family issues, such as ill or needy family members, cumbersome religious practices or beliefs, hobbies that take up an inordinate amount of time (IE: the “manny” who joined a soccer team), romantic relationships (beware the twenty-something with a serious boyfriend) and social lifestyle.
Factor #5. Character. Character is similar to personality, but we use it here to cover a wider range of traits. When deciding what’s important in your hiring decision, it’s helpful to think about traits that you value and those you can’t stand. Some relevant features might include:
~ Level of engagement in social media (and how much time she spends on her phone)
~ How much television she watches
~ Eating and cooking habits
~ Sleeping habits
~ Drug/alcohol use (especially marijuana, possibly prescription drugs)
These are items that are rarely adequately addressed in assessments, background checks and interviews, so they can easily fall through the cracks. And, they can significantly affect you, especially over time. Getting this information requires some creativity, since direct questioning rarely yields honest answers. But in my experience, it is well worth the effort!
For more helpful tips based on research, check out the article on Red Flags to look for in your current and future caregivers.