Things to Do When Recruiting a Nanny

Finding a nanny can be a challenging task and it's essential that you find someone that you can completely trust to care for your children. While you can advertise for or find a nanny with Gumtree, it's important that you conduct the proper checks to be sure they have the right experience and can be trusted.

Recruiting a nanny

In this article, we’ll detail what qualifications and experience to look for, some appropriate checks and a list of questions you should ask potential employees to be certain your children are in safe hands. When recruiting a nanny it’s important that you always do your research, understand what documentation to expect, and conduct the appropriate checks and references before you leave anyone alone with your children. If you have any doubts, can’t complete any of the checks or just feel unsure about a potential hire then it’s best to walk away and keep searching until you find the right person.

Before we get started, it’s also important to note that there are many different types of childcare providers such as nannies, who can be either live-in or live-out, as well as au pairs and childminders. Here, we will focus on nannies, although many of our suggestions also apply when you take on an au pair or a childminder.

Meet safely face-to-face

After discussing initial details online, it’s essential to meet face to face with prospective childcare providers. We recommend that you meet in a safe, public place and tell others where you’re going. An initial interview can help you decide whether potential nannies will meet your expectations and schedule before taking the process further. Your children don’t necessarily need to be with you at this initial meeting, as long as they have an opportunity to get to know the nanny before you make a final commitment.

Proof of identity

Another early step is to ask for two different documents as proof of identity – one with a photo and one that includes their address. This could include a passport or driving licence and a utility bill, for example. It’s also a good idea to confirm their eligibility to work in the UK.

DBS / PVG checks

The Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS will allow you to see any criminal records prospective childcare providers currently hold within England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. In Scotland, this process is known as a PVG check. If you go down this route, it’s also important that everyone who lives with the childcare provider, over the age of 16, also obtains a DBS check. If you are hiring a nanny, then they would pay for the DBS checks, but if you are hiring an au pair then you should pay for these checks.


Checking qualifications is normally straightforward as most potential childcare providers should be able to provide:

  • course certificates or evidence of NQT-type qualifications. Although not essential for the job, this can show commitment to working with children and represents suitable knowledge and experience for the role
  • experience of working with children, for example as an au pair, in a nursery or as a teaching assistant, even if this is a potential nanny’s first job in that role
  • an up-to-date first aid certificate. In the case of a nanny, you would not expect to pay for this or DBS checks as the employer. It would be different in the case of an au pair, where the pay is much less, when you could expect to fund the checks
  • a driving licence if driving your car or their own is part of the job
  • a paid trial period, which is essential for such a personal role. You’ll need to know how they get on with your children and how the children feel about them, as well as you feeling completely comfortable with them in your home. A trial period would normally be 3 months, during which time the employment could be terminated by either party with a week’s notice


Making sure that potential childcare providers have good references is crucial to this process. Even if they’re new to the industry, they must provide character references that show they can be trusted to look after your children. Once you have the details of who to contact, create a list of things you would like to ask the referees. These could include character and work-related questions such as:

  • why did they leave your employment or why do you no longer need a nanny?
  • how do your children feel about the nanny no longer looking after them?
  • how long have they worked for you and what does their work entail?
  • are you happy with their work?
  • would you employ them again in the same role?

For extra security, it’s a good idea to call all referees instead of just emailing them – you’ll find it easier this way to get a sense of who you’re speaking to, and often referees will open up and say more in a phone conversation than they would be willing to put in writing.

Whatever your childcare needs, making sure you feel reassured and happy with the person you choose is key. It’s important to ask the right questions and obtain all the relevant documentation before hiring anyone.