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We interviewed a candidate to be a nanny. We are a household employer. This nanny made a great impression in the first interview. We had a second interview, and, after discussion on schedule, compensation, and benefits, asked if she wanted to accept the role. The answer wasn't exactly clear, which was a challenge seeing as her English is not native. In other words she said, "Yeah that sounds good." I was surprised when she followed up with more questions about the schedule later, which was different than we discussed, and a transportation benefit. We had a third call to iron out the details, she said the conditions sound good. I ventured the question, "Are you interviewing with other families?" She said, "Honestly yes." I said, "We'll give you a week to make a final decision, it's important to make a decision you're happy with."

What I didn't mention is that we're also still interviewing other nannies, since while I thought we had a yes before, it's now not clear I do.

I think I would personally feel guilty if, in the process, we find someone motivated and accepted their help, and our aforementioned candidate was left without an option. Her personal situation shows she needs the work, and I'm empathetic to that. I'm confident she can find another nanny position if she wants it. I'm a little disappointed by the poor communication coming out at this point in the process.

My question is: have I done due diligence in letting her know our expectations and timelines? If I accepted another nanny's help, would I have done wrong by our current candidate?

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    Has a week passed yet? Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 22:24
  • @ComicSansSeraphim not yet, I kind of gave this "ultimatum" today when we had the previously mentioned conversation.
    – AdamO
    Commented Jan 7, 2022 at 22:24

3 Answers 3

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"We'll give you a week to make a final decision, it's important to make a decision you're happy with."

If you tell someone they have a week to make a decision, and then during that week you "find someone [else] and accept[] their help", you didn't give them the week. You actually lied about giving them a week.

"I was surprised when she followed up with more questions about the schedule later, which was different than we discussed, and a transportation benefit."

You sentence here makes you come across as oblivious, or even almost exploitative (of your relative power in this interaction): there is nothing surprising about a job candidate having more questions, or pondering your offer and then negotiating for more. This site is filled with advice recommending that job seekers do exactly these things.

All that said - if you are are clear about deadlines, if you hold up your end of the bargain (i.e. you indeed give them a week), if you negotiate in good faith, if you allow the other side to negotiate (i.e. you don't use your relative power to force your terms), if you are clear in what exactly both sides have agreed to, then there is no cause to "personally feel guilty" if you end up hiring someone else.

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  • Thanks. Yeah, I kind of regret the haste with which I made this agreement. I'm not sure what I would have done in retrospect, maybe give her less time. Anyway, my wife and I have to decided to move forward interviewing other candidates, and we'll give them final decision on the same date. I think unfortunately, we'd have to give the first person first refusal before considering other candidates, even if they're ballpark hits.
    – AdamO
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 16:46
  • To clarify, partially in "defense of honor", I had thought based on our second interview that she had accepted the offer, not only did she not object to the terms, she said they were okay. To hear later that they're not okay is not okay in my book. We thought our search was over and cancelled some interviews, we had stopped looking for nannies. Happily the "sweetened offer" was doable, but suppose she came back and said, "actually $35/hr isn't good enough, I want $45/hr" we'd obviously say "no", but now we've also lost two weeks of looking for candidates.
    – AdamO
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 17:25
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    @AdamO - I wasn't intending to attack your honor. Which is why (for what its worth) said something like "makes you come across" not that you were. Sometimes one of the best things we can do is ask someone impartial to evaluate something we've done or said - as they can pickup on subtle things that we might not even be aware of. Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 1:42
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    @AdamO - Also, I know that negotiating with someone from a different background can be difficult, as their "okay" might mean ("okay, I'll think about it") where your "okay" might mean "perfect, where do I sign". A good lesson is to be explicit as possible. In a similar situation to yours, one nanny we hired insisted on a contract. At first we were put off by having to formalize everything ('we're all good people, this isn't necessary'), but it actually turned to be a really good exercise, as we were forced to think about stuff like what happens if the nanny is too sick to work, etc. Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 1:43
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As I understand it, no further adjustments to the terms of their employment were discussed during the third call. You are operating under the assumption that these terms are definitive and would like to finalize the process.

The only additional effort I would make, is to put the offer (and your expectations regarding the acceptance of said offer) in writing. If you want, you might indicate when and how you would like to discuss any concerns before that date:

I'd like a definitive yes or not before or on $date. Please let me know if there is anything you would like to discuss about the offer. If so, let me know and we'll have a call on $date-1.

I feel that there may be a cultural issue at play here, where you are accustomed to more direct communication than the candidate is. The candidate may be used to more hierarchical interactions with employers and less inclined to express themselves in definitive terms or (in certain interactions and contexts) to take the initiative. Their process for negotiating the terms of a contract may thus be quite different.

This will affect your working relationship, so please adjust your expectations accordingly. As you work together and build trust, you will be able to establish effective communication. But the process will require effort on your part. Personally, I think these kind of cultural differences are a great environment for kids to be exposed to at an early age.

If, despite your best efforts, a difference in communication styles prevents you from coming to an agreement at this stage, then that may be the best for both parties.

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If you want the woman to work for you, offer a concrete start date and let her know when she'll be paid. This "week to make a decision" stuff is what we do in a professional setting. You are dealing with a laborer and someone whose native language is not the lingua franca -- i.e. someone who doesn't necessarily have a lot of options. You are in the driver's seat, and the situation requires that you SAY that you want her to work, or that you don't. All of this other stuff is white-collar protocol that she's neither going to be aware of or respond to in the way you're expecting.

As you proceed, be sure to apply some kindness and empathy.

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