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I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who is good at hiring people. I tend to listen for what I want to hear, and I really want to like job candidates, which gets in the way of serious evaluation.When it came to hiring a nanny, I did a pretty poor job the first time, mostly because I didn’t know what I wanted. I was a new mom of 3 month old twins, knew nothing about parenting, and tried to hire someone who really knew what she was doing. Little did I know that by the time my boys were 6 months old I’d consider myself the expert in their care, and resent our nanny’s tendency to try to tell me what to do. When it came time to hire nanny #2, we interviewed three candidates and I immediately had a great feeling about one of them. She’s been with us for almost two years now, and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky.Our wonderful nanny will be leaving soon, taking off to travel with her fiance, and I’m worried that I won’t be as lucky a second time. But I’ve recently read First, Break All the Rules for work, and there’s a nugget of wisdom that I think will help our search be more successful.One of the premises of the book is that people who are most successful and happiest in their jobs have innate talents that lend themselves to the role. There’s an entire section in the book titled “The Art of Interviewing for Talent.” Basically, the book suggests that you ask open ended questions and then believe the first thing that candidates say. So no fishing for the answer you want to hear. No asking the question a few ways until you get an answer that you’re satisfied with. It’s about taking people’s initial responses at face value, and making decisions based on what you hear. There’s more in there about asking for specific examples of behavior and finding out what parts of the job are most satisfying for people.Hiring a nanny is such a stressful experience. There are so many different things that I am looking for: someone who will care for my children with love, help them learn to explore the world, have fun with them, feed them a healthy diet, handle any emergencies, be nice to our dog, etc. On top of that, there are issues around what kind of relationship the nanny wants to have with our family, and me in particular since I work at home. Whether she’ll be on time on a regular basis and if she’s not, whether she’ll blame the bus or take responsibility for herself.I like the idea of applying the principles from First, Break All the Rules for a few reasons. One, if I’m looking for talents, I’ll hopefully be looking for elements of her personality and her approach to the job that will address many diverse aspects of the job. And two, it gives me a framework for the interview, a way of approaching it from a structured perspective that I trust will get me good results. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
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