Hiring Help: What You Need to Do Before Welcoming a Stranger Into Your Home


As a new mom, entrusting your beloved baby to a stranger may bring about some feelings of anxiety and stress. The horror stories about abusive caregivers circulating the internet certainly does not help, and often moms become so paralyzed by fear that they opt not to hire a nanny altogether. But what about the mothers who need to go back to work but do not have any trusted or willing relatives nearby to watch their children? The need is real, but so is the struggle.

Here are some tips on what you need to do before you decide to hire a caregiver for your child.

1. Look for referrals. If you’re going to hire someone to care for your child, then one of the safest routes is to hire via a referral. Your nanny candidate could be the friend of a trusted helper or the sister of a neighbor’s long time housekeeper. It always helps to know someone who knows your nanny, for the obvious reason that the trust can be shared. At the very least, your nanny won’t be a complete stranger and that you will have some information on the person who will be caring for your baby.

2. Find a tried and tested agency. Unfortunately, most of the agencies that exist are in it for the money. Many moms have experiences of agencies promising to provide replacements for unsuccessful nannies, but never pull through. The reason why they do this is because they will earn from new leads, versus a replacement which they will not earn from. Thus they end up reserving their candidates for new clients, and not for those looking for a replacement.

3. Prepare a set of questions. Ask your candidate the pertinent questions about her work experience and why she is looking for a new job. It would be helpful for you to know what her previous work was like, and how she felt about it. Also helpful is to ask about what her relationship was like with her previous employers..how she talks about them will give an indication about she will possibly talk or feel about you in the future. Questions about her family life are also relevant. Ask her if if she is single or married, if she has children, who is caring for her dependents while she is away. Get to know your candidate as well as you can within the time you are given to meet.

4. Take the time to meet this candidate in person. While a phone conversation may be more convenient and less expensive, it is always a good idea to meet your candidate in person before you decide to hire. It would be good to assess if you will be comfortable working with your candidate based on her self-presentation, manner of speaking, body language, etc. This is a time when your woman’s intuition will be especially useful. Pay attention to how this person makes you feel, and definitely trust your gut for when you make a final decision about hiring.

5. Do a medical test. Many health centers offer medical tests especially packaged for caregivers. This usually includes the ff: a fecalysis to determine the bacteria content in the feces, a HBsAg (Screening) for Hepatitis B, HAV IgM (Hepa-A) for Hepatitis A, and a chest x ray CXR PA (14×14) for tuberculosis.

6. Provide a job description. It is always a good idea to set the expectations before the work begins. Explain the work hours, the number of days off in a month, the amount of time for rest in a day, and even the personality of you child and the culture of your family. It is important that your candidate knows what to expect. If you can write them out, better. Some families provide detailed handbooks on job descriptions of each nanny, as well as a list of the rules and regulations of their home.

7. Ask your candidate to get a police clearance. While this advice seems to be common sense, it is not a common practice. Always ask your candidate to get a clearance of sorts, and if you can speak with your candidate’s previous employers, even better. The more information you have on your nanny, the more at peace you will be in terms of leaving your child in her care.

While hiring help is supposed to make our lives easier, it does come with its own set of challenges. No situation is perfect, but it is always helpful to realize what is within your sphere of control–and taking the precautionary measures before allowing a stranger into your home is definitely one of them.

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