Have you ever known someone who hired an employee because “she seemed like such a wonderful person,” but ended up regretting this decision? Unfortunately, some potential employees are going to tell you exactly what they think you want to hear, and if you aren’t careful, you can find yourself in a very dangerous situation. If you are thinking about employing a nanny to care for your children, and essentially taking over the running of your household, you have to be extremely cautious no matter what kind of first impression you get. The safety of your kids will be at stake, so you want to do everything possible to ensure that this person is what they say they are.
Of course, everyone knows what a background check is, and what it can discover about any potential employee. What they may not realize is that the company they hire to do the check may not be as thorough as it could, or should be. Many of these services just do a basic criminal record check--a crime that has been reported will show up, but there may be instances where wrongdoings have not been brought to the attention of the authorities. This nanny candidate may simply have not gotten caught yet. This is not someone you want caring for your kids, no matter how small the infraction may have been. Even though there is no public record doesn’t mean there isn’t something in their background to make you think twice.
Make sure the company you hire to do the check makes use of a screening process that includes a national criminal record history. This would also include a sexual offender background check as well. You will have to be able to supply a social security number, previous addresses, and names the person may have used. Any candidate with nothing to hide will be more than willing to give you this information at the interview you conduct. Let her know in advance that this is what you intend to do, and watch for any reaction that may serve to let you know that there may be a potential problem. Any reluctance on her part to share this information should alert you to the fact that something is not right. Nannies who apply for a position with a family should know right from the start that you will be investigating their background.
Do not rely on just the background check. Do some searching of your own to find out what you can about this person. Never, ever not ask for or fail to check their references! You may be surprised at the information you get from former employers, and of course the family or friends listed will have nothing but good things to say. What you need to do is talk to people who know this person, and may have worked with her previously, but aren’t connected on a personal level. Some people may be a bit reluctant to share this information, especially if it is not positive, so be prepared for this, and don’t give up there.
Always contact the references and ask questions about job performance, how well she performed her duties, how responsible or dependable she was, and why she is no longer in their employ. Don’t be afraid to ask whether or not they would re-hire her. If they say “no” try to find out why. Many former employers will choose not to reveal their reasons, preferring to put a bad experience behind them. If you explain your situation and let them know that this person has applied to be your nanny, they may be more open and willing to talk, if for no other reason than to save you from having the same problems they had, if any. Most people are willing to share information if it means they are helping you keep your children safe.
Always allow yourself plenty of time to locate just the right nanny. Don’t make a snap decision to hire, and then grab the first person who applies. Not only is this a huge mistake, but you may be jeopardizing the safety of your family, and the security of your home. Take your time, be as thorough as you can be, use every method of investigating that is at your disposal, and never hire anyone until every question has been answered, their background is squeaky clean, and you are happy with your choice.