These days, many parents are finding the help they need by hiring a nanny. As a working mom or dad, you need to keep your job, your status as a parent, spouse or partner, and you need to stay healthy. A nanny can make your life easier by assisting with childcare as well as household chores and running errands.

But how do you find and hire the ideal nanny for your family? Read on to find out exactly what you need to know.

Understand your own needs

Before you begin your search for a nanny, you need to have a good idea of what you’re looking for in the perfect candidate. Many parents omit this step, which can lead to problems and confusion later on. Prepare a detailed job description for your nanny including the work schedule, a detailed description of job duties, what experience and qualities you are looking for, types of skills and certifications your nanny should have, as well as how much you can afford to pay your nanny and whether you would like to pay your nanny hourly or a fixed salary.

Find a credible source

If you’re not lucky enough to have a family member to call on, how do you find someone you trust enough to care for your most precious possession? You should start by speaking with friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances who may have recommendations on a nanny who is worthy of watching your children. Placing ads in the local paper or classifieds is not recommended for safety reasons. If your local search doesn’t yield any results, you can opt to work with a traditional nanny placement agency or use a reputable online nanny service, which can often save you money.

Interview like a pro

When you’re ready to interview your nanny candidates, the best strategy is to start with short phone interviews to gain a first impression of your candidates and narrow your list. Phone interviews can be followed by in-person interviews either at your home or a neutral place such as the library or coffee shop.

Screen, screen, screen

Nannies do not have to undergo any licensing procedures. However, there are many things you can and should do to properly screen your nanny including high quality background checks. It is highly recommended that you run a background check on your nanny before making a hiring decision.

Test your nanny’s skills and knowledge

Many parents forget about this step in the nanny hiring process or don’t know testing is available to them. A great way to test your nanny’s childcare skills and knowledge is the International Nanny Association (INA) Nanny Basic Skills Exam. The exam is a 40 question multiple-choice exam that can be taken online. It covers child development, safety, nutrition, health, and more.

Check references

Ask your nanny candidates for at least 3 references during the interview process. References should not include family members or friends. Ideally, the nanny should provide you with references of employers from past nanny and / or babysitting jobs or other childcare positions.

Think about certification

Many nanny candidates will already be CPR and First Aid certified. However, if your nanny candidate is not certified, consider asking him or her to become certified through the local Red Cross before starting the job. This ensures that your nanny will be prepared in the case of an emergency or accident.

Get ready for your first day

When you have made your final hiring decision and your new nanny is about to start the job, it is a good idea to prepare an Information Sheet and Daily Schedule. The Information Sheet should include important contact information including your own, neighbors, family, and family doctors. Your Daily Schedule should include such information as your child’s nap times, preferred times for meals, play dates or classes, and anything else that will help outline daily activities.

Communicate to build a great relationship

The best nannies are those that become a vital part of the family. Openly and frequently communicating with your nanny will help create a close relationship and foster mutual trust. You can achieve this by just taking 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to speak with your nanny about the day.

Evaluate your nanny

As with any job, you should plan on having a performance evaluation with your nanny 3-6 months after hiring him or her. This will allow you and your nanny to discuss the job, including what works well and what doesn’t. It will give you a chance to openly communicate with your nanny, correct anything that’s not working well, and praise your nanny for a job well done.

With these tips, you should be well on your way to hiring the perfect nanny for your family!

Carolin Soldo is a working mom of two young boys. After struggling to find a quality nanny for her own family, Carolin decided to launch www.NannyPro.com, an online matchmaker for families seeking nannies and babysitters. Carolin is an expert in the childcare field and helping families find the care they need. Carolin has a background in Business Management and holds an MBA from the University at Buffalo.