Hiring A Nanny: How To Do A Proper Reference Check


Published on August 27, 2016

Your FULL Guide to A Nanny Reference Check

Having children is probably the most amazing thing that can happen to a woman and her family. However, this comes in a package with lots of worries, like how to make sure you hire a safe and trusted nanny to look after your children.

If you decide to hire a high end nanny it’s essential to vet your candidates so you can find a trustworthy and qualified nanny. Apart from CVs, interviews, and DBS checks, you’ll need to follow up with their references. Even if you are going through a prestigious agency and they do all the legwork for you, it’s best and highly advised that you check the references yourself as well.

This guide will help you properly conduct reference checks on your nanny candidates so you can be confident in your decision.

What type of questions do you ask your nanny candidate’s references?

The first questions you ask should be broad to give you a feel for the character and quality of your nanny candidate. As you learn more about your prospective nanny from their references you can ask more specific questions that will help you see how good of a fit they will be for your family. Here are some general questions to get you started:

How long was the nanny with the previous family? (ideally confirm start date and finish date)

You want to confirm start and finish dates of a nannies previous positions so you can verify they have been honest on their CV as it will be a reflection of their character. If a nanny has extended dates on their CV it might be an attempt to show more experience than they have and dishonest dates of employment should be a red flag for a nanny as it undermines their honesty and actual experience.

Why did they leave?

Ask this just to make sure there are no warning bells and to compare with what the nanny told you at the interview.

What were their duties?

Find out about previous duties and if there were any that the nanny was not happy to do so you know from the start where you stand

Were they always punctual, responsible and trustworthy?

How was their attendance/ sickness record like?

Were they organized?

You want to find out about her organizational skills regarding children’s clothes, diaries, activities, playdates appointments etc, because if you have a very busy schedule you need the nanny to keep on top of everything related to the kids

Do they have initiative; can they work on their own or did they always need instructions?

You’re hiring a nanny to help take on some of the work so you really want to make sure they’re up to the task and need minimal management.

How were their communications skills with both the children and the parents?

Great communication will save you time and headache. You should get a feel for how well your potential nanny can communicate in their interview, but it’s best to check with a reference to see if they had any problems with communication.

What are their strengths, their weaknesses and in what areas could they improve?

Try to see if there are any big problem areas you haven’t already uncovered from previous questions.

Are there any negative points about the candidate that you should be aware of?

Are they fit, healthy and how are their energy levels like?

Again, very important, because you will probably want someone with tons of energy who will be happy to be outside and run after the kids, keep up with their pace etc, not someone who likes to spend time in front of the TV and who will teach your children bad habits!

Was the nanny happy to go the extra mile if you needed them to do something that was not mentioned in their duties?

Find out if the nanny is flexible to help out when something happens like you are running late from work and she needs to stay an extra hour with the kids or if she is a clock-watcher who has to be out of your door by 7pm. Flexibility is the key on both sides so do ask about this!

Would you rehire them if the situation arose? Would you recommend them for a similar role?

Listen for any warning bells because if they say they would not re-employ them or they would not recommend the nanny then it would be clear that you should not employ her either.

Did the nanny have to drive for them? How was her driving? Was she involved in any accidents while under their employ (with or without the kids in the car)?

Any question that reveals the safety of a nanny is a good one.

Were they happy to travel with you?

If you travel a lot and you need the nanny to come with you, check that she was happy to travel and how she coped while being away (with the stress, with a new country, with being away from her own family, etc.)

How did the nanny handle stress and medical emergencies (if any)?

This is a very important question as you want to make sure that the nanny has First Aid knowledge and she can handle medical emergencies well.


Make sure to adjust these questions depending on your family’s needs. Everyone is different and you will want to make sure a nanny is both qualified for the tasks required and she embodies the characteristics of a nanny right for your children.

What do you want to understand from the reference?

First of all, make sure that the person who gives you a reference is not in a rush, because this might affect what they say and how clearly they talk about the previous nanny. And don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. When listening to what they say about their nanny try and pay attention to what they DON’T say as well and dig as deep as possible for information.

Also listen to their tone of voice, because if they speak enthusiastically about their ex nanny and they don’t stop praising them, that’s always a good sign, however if their tone of voice is very flat and they just want to finish the conversation very quickly, then it’s not a good sign. At the end of the day, you’re looking for insight into each candidate’s character that you can’t draw from an interview with them.

How many references should you call/speak to?

If you have the time (although nothing is more important than your children, we know that!), you should check as many references as possible, but it’s recommended that you check at least 2-4 recent references.

Are written references enough or should I call/email them?

You can get a much better feel for your candidate through a phone call than an email or letter. Written references are never enough. They can be easily faked or modified and don’t provide much insight. While a written reference may seem easier, a conversation is much more informative and often times faster.

What else can be done when checking references?

While checking references, you can have a copy of the nanny’s CV in front of you just to double check dates and duties with the referee on the phone against what the candidate has written down on the CV, just to make sure everything verifies OK.


About Polo & Tweed

Polo & Tweed, is an elite domestic staff recruitment agency. During our nanny recruitment process, we always make sure that our candidates are fully vetted before we even send their CVs to our clients, but we also advise our clients to conduct their own reference checks on the candidate.

So if you are looking for a high end nanny, you can rest assured that we will deal with all the checks on your behalf, so please do not hesitate to contact us today for your dream nanny! We have the very best candidates on our books!


  1. Consolata says:

    Thanks for the read. It was good I was able to glean some things from it. Can I however check references before I interview the nanny?

    • mm LucyChallenger says:

      Hello Consolata, thank you for your comment – I’m pleased the article was helpful. You can check references at any point of the recruitment process, however many nannies would be hesitant to allow their references to be checked before you’ve met them as referees can often be contacted multiple times, and if you’ve not met the nanny yet, you may not feel they are right for the role (at interview) – or vice versa! I would always recommend to conduct the interview first, and then if both parties are happy look to check references. You can always ask for written references prior to meeting – but again, my recommendation would be to conduct the interview first and then continue with references 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *