As a professional nanny you are probably used to grace under pressure but interviews can be difficult for even the most seasoned nannies! While you’re fully prepared to answer questions about your past experience and educational background, you may not anticipate that your personal life may also be put under the microscope! In most corporate settings, questions about your personal life are a no-go. However, the Department of Labor allows small employers to ask more probing questions. Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) makes a distinction in California between those who employ five or more and those who employ fewer than five when it comes to discrimination and providing disability leave, opening the door to such questions. Most families fall into the category of a small employer, allowing them free reign to ask nannies about their relationship status, beliefs, future life plans, and more! When responding to these questions the goal is to first understand the deeper meaning behind them, and then to answer thoughtfully, honestly, and reassuringly. Thinking about how you will respond in advance can go a long way in dialing back the awkwardness and winning the job. Remember, you only have to answer what you feel comfortable answering and framing potential answers ahead of time just makes it easier on you!
Relationship Status and the Deeper Meaning
When asked about your relationship status, it is often to determine your true availability (now and in the future). Most families are looking to hire someone who will grow with their family for years to come. Also, they want to know if you are going to be available to pick up extra evening or weekend shifts, travel for an extended period of time, or even consider relocating should the family need to. Whether you are looking for love or are in a deeply committed relationship, your answer should always be honest, but reflect your commitment to the job and the family, and you should always stress your long-term intentions. If you have specific time constraints or schedule limitations don’t be afraid to share those, but always be sure to sound flexible and willing to help. If you are hoping to commit long-term and grow with the family be sure to let them know!
My Life/Your Life Balance
Do you have children, or do you plan on having children in the near future? Yet another commitment question that can be difficult to answer. Very rarely do people know exactly when this will happen for them, but the prospective employer is simply trying to estimate how long this work relationship can/will last. Make sure you discuss how this job choice obviously shows how much you care and love children but also include a reasonable description of what you believe your plans to be. “I’m not quite there yet, but someday I hope I will be lucky to have children of my own.” “My significant other and I are both focusing on building our life before we plan to have kids, but thanks so much for asking.” “My children are already in school full-time, so this is really an opportunity for me to dive into my professional nanny career.” Whatever your plans, thank them for asking to ease the tension. You should only divulge what you are comfortable with. A good attitude and a smile go a long way on this one.
For the Love of God or Buddha
Religion is a complicated topic for many people. If a family asks you about your religious beliefs, they are probably trying to determine “are you going to be forcing a religious agenda on us or our children?” OR “are you willing to help me in the religious education or secular education of my child?” The complication here comes from trying to connect with them, but also not wanting to distance yourself from the parents. You should state your beliefs only if you feel comfortable doing so, you are under no obligation to answer if you are uncomfortable. An artful way around the concern is, “I tend to believe in a higher power, but I am more than happy to respect your boundaries, I have worked with families of all beliefs.” Another option is, “while I was raised Catholic, unless directed I wouldn’t bring my personal beliefs to the workplace.” As simple as these answers can seem you want to follow them up with something acknowledging the parent’s desires. “Religion can be a really important part of families and I am happy to participate in or focus activities how you see fit.” This shows a willingness to accept the house’s status quo and live by what they want their children to learn.
Polarizing Political Viewpoints
These days it is nearly impossible to look at a Twitter feed or a Facebook post and not have politics shoved in your face. Discussing political views can lead to heated conversations and should more often than not be left out of the workplace. You don’t want to be disingenuous with the family, but at the same time you are an employee working in someone else’s household. Even if you feel like you know the political pulse of your potential employer, it can be a third rail question and it is best to avoid stating any opinion here. A recommended response if asked about your viewpoint is “I get along with all types of people and it would be my pleasure to abide by the house rules when working” BUT be sure you are comfortable living by the standard. If there is something you don’t think you can support or get behind, you may want to consider another family. Accepting a job with a family is a huge commitment and if you feel you are going against your heart in any way, shape or form, it will likely end sooner rather than later.
No matter what strange question is thrown your way be sure to smile and be thoughtful when answering. It’s okay to take a second to answer and you can use phrases like, “that’s an interesting question”, “I hadn’t thought about that, but now that you ask” or “what a clever consideration” to give yourself a little extra time. Parents are not usually trying to pull a “gotcha” question; they are simply ensuring the comfort of their home. Nannies have a unique place in the hearts and minds of the children as well as the parents and the right fit is essential to a long-lasting relationship. Framing your responses to clarify the deeper questions will be sure to impress! If you can focus on expressing the love you have for your job, you will usually find the perfect answer for you.