The English Manner, The UK’s Leading Etiquette and Protocol Training Institute 1200 627

Alexandra Messervy founded The English Manner in 2001 after a career working in the Master of the Household’s department for the Royal Household of Queen Elizabeth II.

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4 March 2024


With many years of experience in training household staff in service and etiquette, as well as teaching children manners, too, we are often asked how to conduct an interview for new staff and which pertinent questions to ask when ascertaining experience and suitability. This is especially true with childcare and what to look for in a nanny.

Here is a brief overview of what we consider the most important factors.

Be clear with your expectations

Ensure you outline the duties you expect from them in detail so there are no later surprises.  Be upfront about salary and benefits at the outset and any dress codes.

Explain work hours and details of overtime, regularity, holiday and time off, and what arrangements will be in place when they are absent.  Also, is it a live in or a live out position; are there any driving needs?

Establish their background

The candidates’ own professional and personal experience gives a good indication of how they may interact with your child – most people relax when talking about themselves, so ask them what their favourite memories of their own childhood are to see if they align with how you see your children being raised.

Find out more about their lifestyle

Something many people look for when in a nanny is the nanny’s lifestyle. If you don’t want a smoker or a drinker, then make sure you say so.

You will need to find out about qualifications and references and ensure they have a valid DBS/basic disclosure check in place.  

Check their training and references

Consider a handover if this is not a new role, and we urge you to be open to the idea of offering some form of training or additional skills support if you like the candidate but want to ensure they are fully capable, for instance, in first aid.

Be careful here, but see if you can find out how they felt about their last job and their reason for leaving.  References will be taken up, of course, but this is from the ‘horse’s mouth’ and can give good insights into their character and attitude to former employers and their charges.

Enquire about their vision

Ask them what sort of activities they would put into place for the age of the child they will be looking after, such as play dates, cooking, swimming and the like. 

You can take this opportunity to ask about their own hobbies and how that may interact with their role.  Also important here is your and their attitude towards discipline and what authority they will have from you.

The benefit of good manners

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