Posts found under: Hiring Archives - Family Matters Canada

Interviewing nannies

I had a strange day yesterday.  A new client called me just before 8:30am.  At around 10:00 another one called…and then again in the early afternoon.  And they all had the exact same question: They all asked when we go to Hong Kong to interview candidates, what do we look for in a candidate?  I actually get this question a lot.  Not necessarily 3 times within 5 hours but it is a common question.

We look for many many things.  Right off the bat we need to look for 2 main requirements in the Live In Caregiver Program.  The first is education – candidates must have at least 2 years of post secondary education in their country.  This is equivalent to a grade 12 diploma in Canada.  The second is work experience.  They must have relevant child,elder or disabled care experience in the past 3 years.  This means that if they are applying to be a nanny for young children they must have worked a similar job and have a contract from that job. The job has to have taken place in the last 3 years.

Besides education and work experience we look for things such as English skills (both speaking and comprehension), communication skills, common sense, the ability to be able to respond to emergency situations,flexibility, initiative, loving and kind personalities etc.  We also ask many questions about the caregiver’s abilities: How many children are they comfortable caring for?  What age children are they happiest caring for?  Do they prefer to work for a stay at home parent or working parents? If they are caring for elderly people what skills and experience do they have?  Can they monitor medication?  Can they properly transfer a patient from the bed to a wheelchair?  Can they do all of the personal hygiene of the person they are caring for?  Can they give insulin injections or change a catheter?  We find out if they can cook, clean, iron, drive, swim, take care of pets.  If they can’t do one or more, are they willing to learn?  Do they have a location preference?  For instance, some candidates prefer the quietness of rural areas whereas some prefer the hustle and bustle of the city.  Or perhaps they have a relative that they would like to live somewhat close to.  We find in order for a placement to be successful and long lasting (which is what everyone involved wants!) both parties must be happy.  We spend so much time speaking to our clients and finding out about their family and their needs. Employers  then interview candidates and make the decision on who they are going to hire to care for their children or elderly loved ones.  We feel it is just as important to find out what the candidate wants as well because  if the candidate isn’t happy with the job description she won’t do a great job and the job won’t last.  Both sides need to be happy in order to insure success.

Although we look for all of the things mentioned above (and more!) I haven’t talked about the most important thing that we look for.  Work ethic.  To us, this is absolutely the most important quality for a caregiver to have.  Someone can have 10 years of experience under their belt, have excellent English skills, a college degree and a dynamic personality but if they don’t have a good attitude about their job it will never work long term.  On the other hand you can have a candidate that has 1 year of experience and a shyer personality but an amazing work ethic and she will be the better employee every time.  If someone is keen on learning, happy to be doing the job they are hired to do and has a positive personality they will stay with the family that hired them for the duration of their contract (and usually longer) and everyone will be happy.  Experience is nice but it certainly isn’t the be all and end all.  Remember, almost everything can be taught…the children’s schedules, the ins and outs of your household, dietary restrictions and allergies, the proper way to make a bed or iron a shirt etc.  Work ethic on the other hand comes from within…it is ingrained into people from a young age and the candidates who have a strong work ethic are the people we try to find and then place with our employers.


What are the requirements for live in nannies and caregivers?

Live In nannies and elder caregivers come to Canada on the Foreign Live In Caregiver Program.  This is a federal program that allows immigrants to work and live in Canada on a work permit.  The Live In Caregiver Program is a 24 month program.  Once the caregiver has completed 24 months she can then apply for Permanent Resident status.

In order to qualify for the Foreign Live In Caregiver Program candidates must have at least 1 year of relevant childcare or elderly experience or have completed a 6 month Caregiver course.  They also must have the equivalent of a grade 12 diploma in Canada.  In the Philippines this is 2 years of post secondary education.  Finally they must have a clean bill of health and no criminal record.

Family Matters has very high standards when it comes to choosing which candidates will be considered for our clients.  We look for candidates that we would be willing to hire to work in our own homes and take care of our own children.

To me this doesn’t necessarily translate into finding a nanny with the most amount of experience.  We look for candidates that possess good moral values, an excellent work ethic, candidates that are flexible, honest, have good common sense, a great attitude, good communication skills, patience, loving personalities and have an eagerness to learn.  We look for candidates that want to be part of their employer’s family and are team players.  Cleaning, cooking and following your family’s schedule can all be taught.  A person’s values, work ethic, positive attitude and integrity however cannot.


What are the steps to finding a good live in nanny or elder caregiver?

These days the only way to get a live in nanny is to sponsor one from abroad.  Family Matters is one of the only Canadian agencies that personally interviews all of our nannies face to face.  We are a licensed employment agency in Hong Kong and are therefore legally allowed to travel there throughout the year to screen and interview potential candidates.  This makes a huge difference between our agency and “the other guys”.

When it comes right down to it we are basically matchmakers.  Our job is to match a family with a nanny or caregiver that can meet the needs of the family.  We first need to find out what your needs are.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Where do you live?  Do both parents work? What duties do you need your nanny to perform (housekeeping, cooking, pet care, taking the kids to school, programs or appointments etc)?  And so on.  Once we have a good idea of what you are looking for in a nanny we email you profiles of candidates that we feel would be suitable for your position.

We base our criteria on so many things – experience, education background, English skills, work ethic, common sense and personality just to name a few.  It is then up to you to decide who you would like to interview.  Most of our interviews are done via Skype but you can have a phone interview if you prefer.  After you finish your interviews if you would like to make a job offer to a candidate we speak to the candidate and make sure that she is interested in the job.

It is imperative that both parties are on board and feel like it will be a long term fit.   Once the nanny agrees to your job offer we start the paperwork processing.  The timelines change depending on how busy Service Canada and the Canadian Embassy in Hong Kong are.  The current timeline is about 8 months so it’s important to plan ahead!


Always use a reputable and established Nanny agency!

By ACNA Canada

Finding a nanny is hard work. It is both time consuming and emotional. It may bring up fears and insecurities in parents as they search for that special person who is going to care for their child. This is a daunting task.

Nanny agencies are in every community, ready to help parents take on this important task. Parents count on their experience and expertise to help them understand all aspects of hiring a new “household employee.” But like all professions, there are excellent agencies and those who are not as professional. There are no federal regulations for nanny agencies, so quality varies.

How do you know your nanny agency is going to be a comfort and support to you, and not a source of even more anxiety? ACNA is a voluntary membership organization that establishes a code of ethics and best industry practices for nanny agencies in Canada.

In your search for the perfect nanny, make sure that you are working with an ACNA agency.

16 potential risks you face when not using a reputable and established nanny agency:

.    high probability of unsuitable nanny candidates

.    difficult to stay in communication with agency

.    no post-placement information package for families

.    no post-placement information package for nannies

.    no follow up after placement for nannies or parents

.    absence of a written contract

.    little or no experience in the nanny industry

.    lack of professionalism or financial stability

.    non-existent standards or guidelines

.    insufficient references

.    danger of document falsification

.    no guarantee policy (re-placement) if the initial placement is unsuccessful

.    no local support during the placement

.    limited understanding of changing Federal Live-in Caregiver Program regulations

.    limited understanding of changing Provincial Labour Standards

.    not aware of new industry trends arising

Family Matters Caregivers is a member of ACNA – the Association of Caregiver & Nanny Agencies Canada