Not all nanny referral agencies are created equal. Many reputable agencies have
been serving clients for years, are active in professional and trade associations,
and truly strive to make the best match for your family. Some are well meaning
but simply inexperienced or lacking the resources (generally manpower) to effectively
meet your needs. A small number are simply interested in the bottom line - move
them in, move them out. The following suggested interview questions should be
directed to the agency BEFORE you retain them.
1. HOW LONG HAS YOUR AGENCY BEEN IN BUSINESS?
While new is not de-facto bad, experience is a reasonable predictor of success.
2. HOW MANY NANNIES DO YOU MATCH WITH FAMILIES IN A MONTH (YEAR)?
You want an agency that makes enough matches to be economically viable, but
not a meat market. Three to six matches per employee per month is a minimum
number. Also helpful: How many of the nannies and families are repeat clients.
3. WHAT IS YOUR SUCCESS RATE WITH PLACEMENTS?
Listen carefully for what you don't hear. No one is perfect, and it is unlikely
that 'We have never had an unsuccessful placement' is true. Why do they think
they are successful? Why do they think some placements haven't worked out? Key:
Look for an agency that carefully interviews the family and can restate your
needs and expectations.
4. WHAT ARE YOUR FEES? WHAT IS YOUR REFUND POLICY?
Fees vary considerably across the country, and you should clearly understand
the retainer and fee payment policies. New agencies typically have the lowest
fees in the market, this is to offset for the perceived inexperience. Refund
policies vary all over the place. Many agencies will pro-rate their fee on unsuccessful
placements, others will never refund but might agree to replace the candidate
at no cost within a limited period of time. Whatever the policy, make sure you
understand it and that it is in writing. The better agencies will make every
reasonable effort to please the client, providing that the client's expectations
are equally reasonable.
5. WHAT IS YOUR SCREENING PROCESS? DO YOU PROVIDE ME ANY DOCUMENTATION ON SCREENING?
A good agency will verify the employment history of prospective nannies, and
generally contact (via telephone) some or all of the personal references provided.
Skilled interviewers will try to determine the accuracy of the employment application,
as well as the temperament and historical job performance of the candidate.
Criminal and driving checks are generally not ordered until after you have extended
a contingent offer of employment and it has been accepted by the nanny. You
should expect that the agency will share with you, in writing, the results of
the prescreening, including the interviewer's impressions. You should also check
the references of any candidate you genuinely feel you will make an offer to
... but don't exercise the people willing to give references if you aren't serious
about the candidate.
6. DO YOU HAVE TRAINING OR SUPPORT PROGRAMS FOR YOUR NANNIES?
Look for the agency that will organize quarterly Red Cross CPR training, arrange
an annual picnic for the nannies, or provide the newly placed nanny with a list
of names and phone numbers of other nannies in their area. Look for the agency
that provides the nanny with written material to help her adjust to her job
... job description, a daily log format, child development milestones, toilet
training tips, and things of that nature. Some agencies assemble and print this
material themselves, others rely on commercially published materials available
in the industry. Not only do these activities help you and you nanny, they also
show the commitment of the agency to the nanny, a commitment that will translate
into experienced nannies who will return to that agency for their next job.
7. HOW DO YOU RECRUIT YOUR NANNIES?
Standard responses can be newspaper advertisement, both local and in remote
areas, job fairs, college career centers, and outreach to daycare centers and
pre-schools. The experienced agency will get returning nannies that they placed
a few years ago, and word of mouth referrals from those nannies. Still others,
particularly in urban areas, utilize recruiters in more rural areas to recruit
and prescreen live-in nanny candidates.
8. WHAT TYPE OF AFTER-PLACEMENT PROGRAMS DO YOU HAVE?
The agency should touch base with both you and the nanny at the end of the first
week and first month to gauge the satisfaction with the match. Often the agency
will elicit feedback from the nanny that she is afraid to tell you directly.
This 'go-between' role is critical to the long term success of the placement.
9. WHAT REFERENCES DO YOU HAVE THAT I CAN CHECK?
Don't just ask for client references, check them out. Don't be afraid to ask
you co-workers, friends and colleagues for referrals - the unsolicited reference
is often the most honest one.
Solutions, Inc.is a national nanny payroll and tax preparation service. They
support the International Nanny Association and its efforts to bring excellence