When I was a nanny in southern California several years ago, I got asked the most inappropriate, absurd, uncomfortable questions you could ever imagine. Things that no employer on the face of this earth would dream of asking an employee – but since I was going to work in their home with their kids I guess it was a free for all.
I remember leaving homes after an interview and thinking, “Did that really just come out of their mouths? And did I really just sit there and answer it like it was all ok?”
And I did. I didn’t know any better.
Here are some of my (really and truly asked) favorites:
- “Do you plan on getting pregnant in the next year or two?” I can’t even begin to explain how illegal that question is. Of course, they wanted to know they had me for the long haul, but also so they could cancel me out right then and there if I said yes. Or that I was.
- “Would you be willing to take classes on how to shoot a gun?” Yeah. Probably not.
- “Can we meet your parents?” I was 23 years old. Married for 4 years. I’m going to say that’s a no.
- “Are you willing to pay your own taxes?” This one literally made my head explode. As a nanny, you are not an independent contractor. They knew it, I knew it. I carried a file with me of all the tax breaks and legal ways to hire me as an employee. There are even free online tax tools that take most of the guesswork out of the scenario. 99% of the time the parents fought it with all kinds of “perks”.
- “Can we pay you in cash?” As much as I love having no work history or payments into Social Security – I’ll have to pass.
- “Would you be ok if we videotaped you here?” I don’t know – would you be ok if your boss video taped you at work in your cubicle? Honestly. I know it’s your kid but if you have to tape a nanny, you shouldn’t have hired her. End of story.
- Phone interview to a place we were moving: “How much do you weigh?” Apparently they’d had a big (their words) nanny before and found she ate all the food. No mention if she was excellent with the children or a wonderful employee. I was so shocked I pretended the phone had gone dead and hung up.
- “Are you willing to work split shift, 70+ hours a week, some weekends and all holidays? For about $650 a week?” OH CAN I? Please?! Because that sounds amazing. Really. You have a live in, full time aupair and housekeeper, yet I’d be in charge of your 4 kids all day long 7 days a week because you’re a SAHM that needs to…. Right.
- “What you do on the weekends?” Well, lucky for you I’m married so not much. Movies, cooking, etc. But you’ll probably get the same answer from the next nanny applicant waiting with a cutoff tank top, daisy dukes, a nose ring, and her boyfriend waiting in the car playing rap music because – we all want this job. Good luck with that.
- “Tell me about the day you asked the Lord Jesus to be your Savior.” ::DEAD:: This question nearly blew me out of the seat. I’m a Christian. I’m proud of that. I’m also an American. And I’m pretty sure that’s something you can never, ever ask someone you’re hiring for a job. I’m happy to tell you all about it off the job, or not as part of being hired.
The worst part is, all of the nannies I got to know were asked at least a few of these at some point. And we all answered, because we needed a job. It became so frequent that I became numb to being treated like a piece of meat.
I think the snapping point was when a woman who looked like she stepped out of a Vogue catalog in a Pottery Barn home stopped me during an interview and said, “I’m so impressed at how articulate you are. And that you speak English.”
You know what I told her after I threw up in my mouth? “My goodness. I was just thinking the same thing about you.”
No. I did not get that job.