Top 10 Signs You're Interviewing with a Family You Don't Really Want to Work for

Image by Mikkamato via Flickr Creative Commons
Image by Mikkamato via Flickr Creative Commons

by kasandra polowski

We’ve all done it—walked into an interview and thought. “Oh no! I do not want to work this family at all!” Before you accept any offers to start work, you should carefully evaluate whether or not the family interviewing you is one you will realistically be able to work for without losing your mind. Ignore the ten signs below during your interview and you may find yourself working for a nightmare FrankenFamily and completely lose your sanity. Nanny beware.

1. The house is a train wreck.

You know the kind I’m talking about. You walk in and there are toys, food, dishes, and animal hair everywhere.  The family claims that they don’t need you to do any housework, but just by looking around you know that in order to make this a good work environment you are going to have to go all supermaid on the place.

2.  The kids are out of control.

I once went to an interview where the kids were bouncing off the wall and running. One of them wrote on with a marker within my first ten minutes on the property and all the mom could say was, “They are always like this, very high energy and don’t like to listen.” I knew right then and there that I did not want to work for that family; if the kids were already used to not having rules and could walk all over their parents, what were they going to do when I was there?

3. No Traveling with the children.

The parents insist there is no reason for you to take their kids anywhere because there are “plenty of activities for them to do around the house”. Working for parents who do not allow you to travel with the kids is going to get old very quickly. A nanny’s day can be very isolating and lonely. I want to ask every parent that’s ever said this, “Do you like staying trapped in your house for 55 hours a week with bored kids?

4. They keep referring to your job as babysitting.

As soon as a parent who is interviewing me for full-time work calls me a babysitter, especially after I’ve clarified the difference, I know it is not a good fit. Parents like this do not understand that there is a difference between the two terms and they will not value you as much as a family that understands you are not “just a babysitter”.

5. They compare the cost of your pay to a babysitter’s pay.

When parents complain that the rate you’ve requested is so much more than the going rate for their weekend babysitter, you know this is a family you should run from. As nannies, we know that we do far more than just watch the children, therefore there is nothing wrong with charging our normal rates and not getting paid babysitting wages.

6. They don’t think you need to be paid legally.

Being paid legally is very important. Nannies are not independent contractors and they are also not exempt from taxes. When families do not want to pay you legally, it puts you at risk of being in trouble with the IRS. Don’t take the chance. It may seem nice to have that extra cash in your paycheck each week, but will it be worth it when the tax man comes knocking on your door?

7. They don’t think you need a contract.

A contract protects not only the nanny, but also the family. When a family refuses a contract, you should always consider why. You are more secure with one and it’s only for the safety of both parties. If they don’t want to write up a contract, then you don’t want to accept this job.

8. The job sounds more like housekeeping than nannying.

The list of household duties should not be longer then the list of childcare duties, unless you want to be a housekeeper as well. If this is the case, you should be compensated correctly as a “nanny/housekeeper”.

9. They do not want you to talk to the previous nanny.

When parents say they do not want you to speak to their previous nanny, that should throw up a blaring red light in your mind. If they were great bosses who have nothing to hide, why would they have a problem with you getting a quick reference from the last person in the position?

10. Sketchy vibes.

Strange and personal questions are “sketchy” but not uncommon during interviews for nanny positions. If they start asking you about your ideas on religion, homosexuality, sex before marriage, or anything that doesn’t really involve childcare, you should be concerned. The bottom line is that if you feel uncomfortable during a two-hour interview, you would probably feel uncomfortable every single day if you went to work for that family.

What interview dealbreakers do you have to share? Have any of these scenarios happened to you?