It has been an incredibly challenging few weeks, and the tragedy of our current crisis is affecting everyone in different ways.
Within the nanny community, we have heartbreakingly already lost several nannies in the United States to COVID-19, and tens of thousands of nannies are currently either furloughed (i.e. laid off with the intention to be re-hired when families are allowed or able), working reduced hours, or legally unable to go to work as nannies are not considered ‘essential employees’ in most states with the exception of dual-working households in which all parents are essential employees and still expected to work.
While we do not have the answers to how best move forward, and so much remains unknown about COVID-19 and how long various states will have shelter in place laws in effect, we are choosing to focus on the future. Many nannies have reached out asking for advice on conducting interviews with families remotely using video calls (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc.) As our agency has been training both candidates and families on how to conduct remote interviews since our inception in 2012, we have luckily picked up a thing or two along the way that we are happy to share with those of you who may be preparing for your first-ever video interview with either an agency or a family.
Get Your Tech Set Up
Families generally have their own preferences as to which platform they would like to use for their video interviews. Since you will not be meeting the family in person in advance of the interview, we recommend that you work with whatever their preference is, if one is given, and get the software up and running. This is your first opportunity to showcase adaptability – saying “actually I don’t have Skype, can we use XXX platform instead?” may be a non-starter for some families, particularly as their families have become accustomed very quickly to virtual learning in the past few weeks and will likely value a nanny who is tech-savvy enough to help their children navigate online learning and other tech-based applications and tasks in the near future.
If you have the option of using either your cell phone or a tablet or laptop with a camera, test out the connection on each one and select the one with the better video quality. Download whichever software platform the family has asked to us, create a login, and launch the software to ensure you will be able to access it and be on time for your call. Candidates often have difficulty arriving on time to platforms like Zoom or GoToMeeting when they click on the link at the exact time of the interview and then realize they have to use a different browser, download a plug-in, create an account, or other factors that can add 3-10 minutes to the process before they are able to connect, and starting an interview late is not how anyone wants to kick things off!
Decide Where The Interview Will Take Place
You may be familiar with using FaceTime for video calls to friends and family while wandering around your apartment, sitting at a park, or cooking dinner – while video calls are used informally all of the time, this is not one of those times. Find a quiet, well-lit place to sit, preferably with a white or empty wall behind you. While video interviewing is convenient since you are able to do it from home, or anywhere, they should still be taken as seriously as a professional interview and treated as such.
Interviews should not be taking place:
- While children are in your care
- Sitting on your bed
- In a room that others may be entering/exiting from
- In a car
Prepare For Your Video Interview The Same Way You Would
Prepare For A Regular Interview
- Looking over the job description and writing down any questions you have for the family
- Reviewing your resume and understanding which skills and experiences to highlight for this particular role
- Getting dressed and prepared as if you were heading to a real interview
- Doing your normal ‘best practices’ to prepare for an interview, including stretching, meditation, breathing exercises, etc – whatever will make you feel the most comfortable and confident and do your best!
- Block out 10-15 minutes before the interview to give yourself time to be confident and collected when the interview begins
- Make sure your video platform is working correctly and that you will not be interrupted.
During The Interview
During your interview with the family, be prepared to answer and ask many questions! If there is an issue with any of your tech platforms, try to ignore them if they are minor. So many people are connecting through video right now that some calls do experience connectivity issues more frequently. If the tech issues become so major that you are having a hard time hearing or understanding the questions, request to move the call to a phone call so that all parties can be present. Especially right now, it’s important to forge a human connection during these interviews – ask families how they have been handling the impact of COVID-19 on schools being shut down, fun projects the family has been working on at home, etc.
After The Interview: Next Steps During COVID-19
If the family is discussing moving forward during the interview, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Shelter in place laws in your area
Many cities and states currently have ‘shelter in place’ laws in effect, which means that nannies are currently not permitted to work (as ‘non-essential employees’) unless the parents they are working for are essential employees. (Note: a few cities and states have specifically said nannies are essential, so it’s important to check your local laws!) Of course we all know how essential nannies are, but as various governments determine what will keep their communities the safest during this time, be aware of which laws are in effect and how they may impact a family’s ability to hire you.
- Social isolation and self-quarantining
Many families had already implemented self-quarantining and/or social isolation practices before government intervention based on their family values and desire for safety and health. While questions about your medical history are still against EEO laws, both parties do have the right to ask if you have been exposed to anyone who has tested positive, what safety measures you have put into place to protect yourself and your future employer’s family, and how you will be getting to and from work (i.e. car, ride, public transportation.) As a potential new employee, feel free to ask questions like the following:
- What have your family’s social distancing/quarantine practices been up to this point?
- How many other household staff members are currently working, and what practices are they putting into place to keep everyone safe?
While caring for mildly ill children is often considered a not-so-glamorous necessity of most nanny jobs, this is also a good time to note (as well as in a written trial agreement if the family moves forward with an in-person working interview or trial) your comfort level with caring for sick children, and/or working in a home with sick adults. Similarly, you should have a plan in place with the family for what happens if you begin exhibiting symptoms or if someone you live with or are quarantining with develops symptoms or learns that a co-worker or close person develops symptoms.
We hope these tips help you as we continue to navigate this ongoing crisis together – and yes, we WILL get through it!
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