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When it comes time to hire a nanny, you probably have all kinds of questions you ask in order to get a better idea of the person you are considering. You can find out quite a bit about a person by viewing the application and the resume, but is the information provided a complete representation of the potential nanny?

References are a good way to gain a bit more information about a person that isn’t covered by an application or the resume. By contacting the people on a candidate’s list, you can gain further insight towards the person you’re thinking about hiring. However, you may not want to place all of your stock in what these references have to say. Why shouldn’t you completely trust the references that have been provided?

1. Rarely Negative – Few applicants will provide a list of references that have something negative to say. For the most part, everyone lists past employers and character witnesses that will be beneficial to finding a job. It’s not often that you’ll see someone list names that had a negative experience with the individual. For some, this could be considered a method of telling you what you want to hear about the candidate and not what you need to hear.

2. Personal Point of View – Not everyone will view a person in the same light. Each circumstance could be completely different. While one person views the candidate as responsible, the other could view her as more respectful. Even positive reflections will differ due to a unique experience and situation. Although there may be common attributes that each one will find in the candidate, each still has a separate personal perspective on the potential nanny.

3. Non-professional References – Often times, people will list references that are not linked to their professional expertise. If the nanny doesn’t have an extensive background in childcare, professional references may be hard to come by. However, many individuals will list friends or acquaintances that can provide a good review regardless if they have a history in the chosen profession or not. This could be a warning sign that the individual is afraid of a professional review especially if she has had a long history in childcare.

4. Unrelated to Profession – Sometimes a candidate may use professional references from a separate career path in order to provide a character witness. As mentioned earlier, this kind of practice is okay if the person is new to childcare. However, it’s difficult to ascertain whether or not your candidate will prove to be a good childcare provider even though the review from the restaurant, or other previous employment, was stellar.

5. Trust – Do you feel confident enough to trust the word of a complete stranger to highlight the best points of another? Your child’s safety should be your primary concern and you shouldn’t take information at face value. For all you know, the personal reference could be lying to you in order to help his or her friend get the job. It is this possibility that prompts many parents to invest in a thorough background screening of potential candidates.

It’s always good to check a nanny’s references. They can still provide you with quite a bit of information about the person you’re considering. However, don’t blindly accept their word as a complete description of your potential nanny. Always dig deeper to find as much information as you can. You could easily find the diamond in the rough or a candidate that is less than ideal for your situation.

Rachael Cherry is a wife, mother, and writer who is passionate about helping connect families in need with high quality caregivers. She has taken that passion and put it to work through NannyPro, a respected online nanny referral service. Learn more by visiting @NannyPro on Twitter.

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