Babysitter Interview Checklist
What to Ask a Potential Babysitter During an Interview
By: sittercity on: Thu 24 of May, 2007 [02:07 UTC] (5730 reads)
You've already completed the first important steps in the babysitting process: making definite plans to get the heck out of the house, searching for babysitters and selecting your top-notch favorites. Next up? The interview.
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The first thing you'll want to do when it comes to interviewing a potential sitter is create a list of interview questions to ask her – everything from her previous work in child care to her current certifications to her allergies (hey, Fido's a part of the family too!).
Sittercity's list of interview questions will help you get more of a feel for whether the sitter's personality and skills will mesh well with your own family's needs. Whether you put your potential sitter through the ringer with every single question or whether you use these questions as a loose guideline is up to you! Here's what we recommend you ask:
- What is it that you like about babysitting?
- What do you look for in an employer/family?
- What is your rate?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony?
- Are you OK if a job runs later than planned?
- Do you have a backup ride home in case we cannot drive you?
- How soon will you let us know if you can't do a job?
Background and experience
- How many years have you been working with children?
- What child care roles have you done in the past? Sitter, nanny, coach, etc.?
- How many families have you cared for and how old were the children?
- Do you have experience in bathing children?
- Do you live nearby? How can you get to jobs with us? Car, etc.?
- What is your course of study in school or what is your full time job?
- Do you have any allergies to cats, dogs or other pets?
- Are you uncomfortable around or scared of any particular pets?
- Do you have any particular religious affiliation that might affect the way you care for our children? Christian Science, etc.?
- (For nannies) Do you plan on taking any time off in the next six months?
Training and safety
- Do you know First Aid?
- Do you know CPR?
- Are you familiar with the Heimlich maneuver?
- Are you familiar with ADD and/or SIDS?
- Can you swim?
- Are you familiar with emergency numbers?
- Can you drive in an emergency?
- Have you ever used a fire extinguisher before?
You should look for concrete examples.
- Tell me about a time where you faced a crisis on the job. How did you handle it?
- What would you do with the kids on a day like today?
- What do you do when a child refuses to go to sleep?
- What do you think is the best way to handle tantrums?
- What is your proudest moment in babysitting and why?
- What was your worst experience in child care, and how did you resolve it?
- What kinds of discipline have you implemented in the past? Spanking, etc.? Are you willing to change if we ask?
Responsibilities and tasts
- How do you feel about play dates for my kids? Can you help arrange these?
- Can you care for more kids if we have a play date in the house?
- Are you OK assisting with homework, possibly making dinner and/or doing light housework?
- Are you comfortable watching my child as a mother's helper if I decide to stay home during a job?
- Are you willing to help with overnight care if needed?
- Can you travel with my family if we need you to?
If newborns are involved
- Are you comfortable sitting for newborns?
- Can you change a diaper?
- Do you know infant CPR?
- Can you properly carry and pick up a newborn?
- Do you know about SIDS and how to prevent it?
- Can you prepare and heat formula correctly?
- Are you familiar with Shaken Baby Syndrome?
- Do you know the proper size for baby chewables and how to prevent choking?
- Can you tell if a room is childproofed?
If the babysitter will be driving
- Are you comfortable driving children in the car?
- May I see your driver's license?
- How many years have you been driving?
- Do you have any marks against your driving record (speeding or accidents)?
When scheduling an interview, logic may tell you to schedule it for a point in the day when your kids will be occupied and you can quiz the sitter uninterrupted. Bad call.
Instead, make sure your little loved ones will be present! This is a crucial step in the interview process because it will give you the direct opportunity to see how the sitter reacts to and interacts with your children. You may also choose to excuse yourself from the room – especially if you're hiring a mother's helper – so you can keep an ear open for whether or not the sitter's demeanor changes when you're not around.
Another thing to watch for during the interview is energy. It is so important that your babysitter be excited, alert and eager to help you. An energetic sitter won't resort to sticking the kids in front of the TV while she chats on the phone with her girlfriend for two hours, long-distance. Instead, she's much more likely to use her creativity to organize fun activities, play games, suggest a bike ride, and get the kids outside and moving.
A few more brief things to look for in a sitter during the interview:
- Availability for at least half a year from the interview date
- A readiness to communicate via phone or in person
- Good eye contact
- General cleanliness in presentation
- A corresponding idea of discipline
- A good grasp of healthy food and nutrition
- A good grasp of routine and how to get one started
- A sense of humor
Sometimes, it's more about what the sitter DOESN'T do than what she does. Before, during and after the interview, you'll also want to be on the lookout for certain red flags in the hiring process:
The babysitter doesn't arrive on time
If the sitter is late to the interview, she will be late to jobs. Even in the instance that something important does prevent her from being on time, you'll want a sitter who is responsible enough to call you to let you know what's going on. No phone call + no-show = not a responsible sitter. Next!
The babysitter doesn't talk much or ask much
If you're the one doing all the talking and asking questions during the interview (yes, the sitter needs to ask you questions too), it could mean one of three things for your sitter. One, she may just be shy. Otherwise her silence could mean that, two, she's ill prepared or, three, she's just not that into her job - both bad signs.
The babysitter doesn't have verifiable references
If the sitter's reference appears constantly busy and can never take your calls, this could be a sign that he is uncomfortable vouching for the sitter and is using his schedule to avoid the discussion. If you do reach the reference, use your gut to determine if anything seems off, as a sitter could have a friend posing as a reputable reference who will tell you exactly what you want to hear.
All that said, there's just one more vital tip that you absolutely must follow: trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right during the interview, then move on to the next candidate.
There are tons of available babysitters out there, such as those on Sittercity.com, America's first and largest parent-babysitter matchmaking website (and the inventor of online child care). With hundreds of thousands of sitters across the nation, Sittercity can help you find the perfect sitter in your local area. To receive 10% off your Sittercity membership fee, enter promo code TYPE when registering. Happy searching and good luck!