Your nanny job interview is make or break; it is what will get you the job or not!
And yet candidates everywhere continue to make the same errors!
So go ahead and read JIC's Top 12 mistakes you MUST avoid in your interview, and then go and get that governess or nanny job!
1. Not dressing appropriately
When interviewing with an agency or a potential employer, it is generally a good idea to imagine you’re on your first day at work. Even when sitting in for a Skype interview, you should be sure to show the other party your own professionalism and how presentable you can be.
Working as a nanny or governor/governess for a wealthy family, you are often viewed as an extension of that family. It is a good idea to make sure you are clean and smell good, and that you are dressed appropriately for the role you are applying for. This doesn't necessarily meant wearing a suit; it means that your shirt/ t-shirt/ polo/ blouse/ pants/ trousers/ whatever you would wear for work should be ironed, clean and in good condition.
And if you are Skyping a potential employer, avoid the temptation to dress up your top half properly and sit around in your underwear for the bottom half, this is likely to cause problems if you forget something and have to stand up halfway through!
2. Forgetting to bring supporting documents
The simplest way to show that you are well organised is to bring a small but smart folder along with you to your interview - so don't forget to do this! Your folder can include photographs from work, pictures of arts and crafts you have engaged in with charges in previous positions, copies of your own qualifications, or anything similar. In this the family can see your achievements in previous positions, and also that you are professional and have the foresight to bring along relevant documents that they may wish to see.
It is also a good idea to always bring a pen to interviews or have one nearby in a Skype interview; the chances are you will need something to write with, and it’s another good opportunity to show that you are efficient and well organised.
3. Not being smiley enough
This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised! Every parent wants their child to be happy, so they want to put him or her in the hands of a capable but positive person. Be sure to make it clear to the employer that you will be fun for their child to be around and in general a pleasant member of staff for the family by smiling!
I am smiling.
This also goes for phone interviews. Believe it or you can hear somebody smiling even when you can’t see them. So make your interview a pleasant experience for both sides by keeping a happy face on - just remember to brush your teeth first!
4. Not using people’s names
Using somebody's name is a quick and easy way to build rapport. Every person loves the sound of their own name. This is why you can hear someone say it even across the room at a cocktail party - your brain subconsciously picks it out. Take advantage of this by using names; not nonstop throughout your interview (don't go crazy on this one) but just once or twice. This can show the agency or employer that you are a conscientious person who has good attention to detail.
To remember someone’s name it is often a good idea to put an unforgettable picture in your head. For example, if the interviewer’s name is Mike, you could try to picture his head as a microphone with his eyes and nose on and you will be sure not to forget it! Another technique is to think of a friend of yours who has the same name and imagine them hanging out together.
5. Not knowing what you want
You are a lot more likely to get what you want from an interview if you go in there having defined it for yourself first! Whether it be a certain schedule, salary, living arrangements or holiday pay - decide for yourself what is a deal breaker and what isn’t, and avoid having to think about it on the spot. If you don't know what you want, you are unlikely to get it. Remember that it is perfectly acceptable to take notes or questions into an so take advantage of this!
As a general rule, negotiation of terms is best done at the end of an interview - let the employer decide they want to hire you and once you’ve got them interested tell them that you can do what they are asking for - now this is what you are asking for.
6. Lack of punctuality
This cannot be emphasised enough! Being late for an interview can undo all the hard work you have put into the application process. If you can’t be on time for day one, what attitude are you likely to put into the job in the long run? Much better to arrive thirty minutes early and to sit somewhere, have a coffee and plan what you want to say than to be even five minutes late. Avoid bus routes which are notoriously risky and roads which are prone to delays. Traffic or getting lost is no excuse. Be on time!
If your interview is on Skype - be sure to test your internet connection is working properly in advance. A poor connection or a cancelled call can easily be the difference between getting the job and losing it. Be very aware of time differences in different locations.
7. Agreeing to things you can't stick to
If the terms that you are looking for cannot be accommodated - don’t be afraid to walk away. Better to keep looking than to sign up a schedule or living arrangement that will make you unhappy. Accepting terms that you do not want will ultimately make you unhappy at work and keep you from working to your very best standard. You will probably end up leaving the job or being miserable, which is pointless for all parties.
If the schedule the employer is proposing appears heavy, now is the time to talk about it. Explain to the family that in order to keep you happy and working well, you will need free time to socialise and keep in contact with your own friends or family. If they disagree, then that’s their loss yours.
8. Failing to explain your previous achievements
Some questions in a job interview are almost guaranteed. Two of these are: ‘What is your experience for this role?’ and ‘What qualifications do you have that are relevant to the position?' And failing to have a suitable answer for these questions will mean doing yourself a disservice.
So be prepared! Have your responses lined up in your head along with the key details so you don’t forget anything. Remember to be concise and that, when discussing your previous work experience, what your new employer wants to know about is your results. What did you achieve?
9. Not doing your own research
If the interview you are sitting is a general interview with an agency, it will take a very short amount of time to do some background research. Less than five minutes will be enough to check what roles the agency currently has available that you might be interested in. Mention these roles as part of your interview and demonstrate to the agency that you are serious, and that you know what you’re talking about. This also gives you the opportunity to find out more details about said positions, and to find out if any terms you are unsure of are negotiable.
10. Not speaking clearly or in a professional manner
Ensure that you speak clearly in your interview. It is a particularly good idea to speak a little more slowly and clearly if you are interviewing to work for an overseas family or a family whose native language is not English - who wants to employ somebody they can’t understand?
Avoid using slang and bad language at all costs. Believe it or not many candidates will feel relaxed enough to swear in interviews, immediately losing them the job in almost all circumstances. Keep to an appropriate register and stay professional.
11. Not asking questions
At the end of an interview, it is almost always sensible to ask a question or two. There are very few exceptions to this. Even if you feel that everything you want to know has been answered, asking a question is a good way to show that you really do have a genuine interest in the and that you aren’t just sitting the interview to fill time or keep your options open.
Try to think of something that brings out your skills or shows your good work ethic. Questions such as: ‘Would the parents like to me help with schoolwork if necessary?' or ‘Are there any house rules I should be aware of?' can help to demonstrate that you are careful and conscientious, and will behave that way when working with their children.
12. Forgetting to send a follow up
After an interview, an easy way to demonstrate your continuing professionalism and organisational skills is to keep yourself fresh in the employer or agency’s mind as a candidate - send a short but polite . A simple email addressing the interviewer by name, thanking them for their time, asking them to contact you if there’s anything else they need and letting them know that you hope to hear from them soon is a nice touch that requires very little effort.
Good luck in the job hunt!