Open-ended Nanny Interview Questions: The Best Way to Assess Childcare Knowledge

Open-ended Nanny Interview Questions: The Best Way to Assess Childcare Knowledge

by Martha Scully

When interviewing a potential nanny candidate, it’s not always easy to get a clear insight on your candidate. They may come with brilliant [referral letters] and many years of experience. But is there a way to truly know how your nanny might deal with a difficult childcare situation?

We’ve found the best way to properly assess a potential nanny’s experience and knowledge of childcare is to use open-ended questions. Open-ended questions will allow you to get the most out of the interview time because they allow and encourage a more detailed, creative answer including feelings, attitudes, and understanding of the subject. They will help you get to know your potential nanny better and make a more informed decision. This is essential, as the nanny will become a vital part of your family.

This article is part of, child care expert, Martha Scully’s how to hire a nanny series and is a supplement to our 35 Sample Nanny Interview Questions.

What’s The Difference Between Closed and Open-Ended Questions?

Close-ended questions usually have simple yes or no answers, but open-ended questions serve as prompts to get further information of an opinion.

You’ll find that these types of questions are more helpful to gather their insight and knowledge of a particular topic. These are such questions that the interviewee will have to think about more deeply, coming up with several scenarios in her mind and furthering the conversation with you.

Rather than just ending up with short and incompetent answers, you’ll gather even more info of your own to help you make the right choice in selecting your nanny.

The Benefits of Open-Ended Questions

  • Allows an infinite number of possible answers
  • Collect more information
  • Learn something you didn’t expect
  • Encourages self-expression and creative answers
  • Better understanding of the candidate’s problem-solving skills

The type of open-ended questions that are ideal for a nanny interview usually begin with What? When? Why? How? or Where?

Sample Open-Ended Nanny Interview Questions

Below are some excellent examples of the open-ended questions you should have on your list when preparing for the nanny interview.

  • Olivia (2) is a happy child, has a good demeanor and is feeling well when her parents leave for work in the morning. Everything is going well, but by noon, you are alarmed to note that she has a high temperature and begins vomiting in the play room. What do you do?

  • Jackson (2) has been playing in the garden. When you bring him inside, you notice that a small tick has bitten his neck, and a portion of the bug is still inside Jake’s skin layer. What do you do?

  • Describe a past situation where a young child’s behaviour has become out of control. How did you handle the situation? What would you have done differently?

  • If Sophia (4) repeatedly disobeys you during a meal, throwing her food on the floor for no reason, how will you get her back to behaving at the table? What will you say or do to her?

  • Michael and Ethan (6) are two twins who are constantly fighting about everything, and sometimes they get physical, hitting and tackling each other. It gets out of hand, especially in public. What would you do to prevent this behaviour?

  • Isabella (5) is usually a behaved child at home, but in playgrounds and when guests are visiting, she begins to act up. She often screams for what she wants and hits other kids at the sandbox if she wants their toys. How do you handle this in public?

  • The children, who have just begun to attend school, are very upset about the recent separation from their parents. It is often a big drama when their parents must leave for work. If this happens, how would you handle this situation?

  • Emma’s father must be away for one week. She has had trouble in the past being separated from him. She is 8 years old and has watched a TV show about plane crashes, so is quite paranoid when her father must fly for work—besides being away from him for long. What will you tell her in order to soothe her anxiety?

  • What would you do if the child refused to eat the food that her mother has put on the menu?

  • What would you do if both children were crying at the same time?

  • Being a nanny is usually a rewarding experience. Being a part of the child’s life, helping them grow and being a part of their development has great inner rewards and benefits. However, it is often stressful and you may end up feeling lonely having to deal with only children for long hours in the day. How do you ensure personal happiness on the job?

  • When you feel that your days as a nanny become lonely and monotonous, what do you do personally to remain a pleasant and happy person for the kids and the family you work for?

sample open-ended nanny interview questions


Consider using a few or all of the above open-ended questions. Of course, you don’t have to stick to this exact order or even the same list. These are simply examples and prompts to give you an idea.

Once you have a good variety of scenarios and open-ended questions prepared to ask your potential candidates for the nanny job, you’ll see a definite difference in the quality of interview and the results.

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About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.