Interview styles - One approach doesn’t fit all

With the Nanny Pilot being in full flow the recruitment department faces lots of first times and novelties. We do have interviews in recruitment offices in small towns, interviews in family’s homes, interviews with children and dogs around; we have skype interviews and inductions and we can see nannies interacting with children.

Those different situations make it easy to see advantages and disadvantages of each and we thought it a great time to compare different interview styles.

Upfront it is worth mentioning that working in an industry where trust is the most important, detailed interviews are not just an additional feature but of utmost importance. Potential nannies need to find out whether we are the right fit for them and we of course want to know whether we feel comfortable placing those nannies with our families.

Keeping that in mind the following differences bring certain advantages and disadvantages apply to different interview styles.

Structures vs. unstructured interviews:

While unstructured interviews provide the opportunity of an informal set up in which applicants are likely to open up and fall into chatting mode, we prefer structured interviews with set interview questions in order to ensure all important questions with regards to skills, experience and expectation are asked and also to guarantee a fair process for all applicants. Structured interviews can be used regardless of other circumstances.

Office interviews

The typical form of interviews provides a variety of advantages. Being able to control the environment and prevent interruptions and ensure privacy allows us to focus on the candidate and helps the candidate to focus on the interview. But of course interviewing in a controlled environment has  its challenges, too. Especially interviewing for a position where different skills than presenting skills are needed. We only get insight into the theoretical understanding and behaviour of nannies without being able to see how they perform those duties in the families. In order to balance this possible short coming in-depth reference checks are very important. If you want to read more about reference checks please check out our blog on reference checks.

In-home interviews

As part of the Nanny Pilot Program we did interviews in family homes with the children being around. Using the structured interview questionnaire it provided a good opportunity not only to ask for the theoretical knowledge but also to see them interacting with parents and children. Unfortunately we don’t have this opportunity in an office environment so we miss out on great clues about actual behaviour. On the flip side it is difficult to get an applicant to fully concentrate on the interview when the children are around and she has an eye on them at all times. While this of course shows a great quality to look out for in potential nannies it can lead to lengthy interviews interrupted by children, repetitions and clarifications. Another possible issue is that parents are often around so nannies might be less open than in an office environment.

Telephone Interviews

While telephone interviews definitely seem to be a convenient way of getting information from a candidate with everyone having a smart phone and being available pretty much 24/7 we believe that information provided in an interview is as much transmitted through body language as it is through verbal clues. Since the entire body language, appearance and attitude is lost in telephone calls they are difficult to use as sole judgement for the quality of an applicant. We do call applicants for pre-screens but insist on visual interviews in order to capture as many clues about the suitability of applicants as possible.

Skype Interviews

Providing quality child care for families not only in Melbourne but all over Victoria confronts us with Australia’s challenge of long distances and remote areas. In order to prevent those factors to interrupt our work flow we started using modern technology to our advantage. Skype is a great way to interview nannies, see their body language, their way of expressing themselves and their entire appearance without having to travel 8 hours to Mildura. The applicant on the other side gets an idea of the agency, our commitment to provide flexible service for applicants and at the same time the guarantee that we don’t compromise quality under any circumstance. Of course an interview over the computer lacks some of the personal experience a face-to-face interview can provide hence our families in those remote areas all get the chance to interview the nannies themselves. This double interview process ensures that nannies pass not only our recruitment criteria in a professional interview with our trained staff members but also convinced the family in a face-to-face interview proving inter-personal skills. We will however always meet the Nanny for a second and final interview. Face to face is imperative in the Nanny world.

In summary all different interview styles have advantages and disadvantages and the individual situation will determine which style is most appropriate. In addition to interviews thorough reference and background checks and a clear induction is necessary to guarantee a great service for nannies and families.

We are curious, what do you think which style is best suited and do you have a preference for your own recruitment or other forms of interviews? Share your experience in the comments below.

The Recruitment Team


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