The Ultimate Checklist of Questions to Ask Babysitters Before Hiring Them
It’s the time of year when many working parents are turning to babysitters and nannies to help them with childcare. It’s not easy to entrust your children to someone else’s care no matter how old they are. We’ve gathered the interview questions that every parent should ask a babysitter before hiring them to make the process easier for you. By taking the time to interview a babysitting candidate in person with these questions, as well as the most important element of trusting your parental gut instincts about a person, you’ll be able to feel good about the process and the choice you make.
1. What is your previous childcare experience?
This is an obvious question, but it’s all about the details the candidate can provide on the spot. Anyone can make up experience on a resume, but you’ll be able to tell how much the person enjoyed being with the children and how close they were to the family by listening carefully and asking follow up questions. Asking about the previous clients’ children as far as personalities, likes and dislikes, and how they did with sleeping and eating should bring out candid stories that will give you a window into the candidate’s interactions as well as their emotional investment in the families.
2. Why do you want to work in childcare?
It’s easy to respond with a statement about loving kids. Be prepared to push candidates a bit on this and find out what really appeals to them about being a babysitter.
3. Are you certified in first aid and CPR?
This is important, especially if the babysitter will be spending long and regular periods of time with your kids. If you really like the candidate and they have not yet been certified, ask them if they would be willing to do so before they begin working for you. There are typically many options for one-day courses. If the candidate has already completed a first aid and CPR course, ask them to provide evidence of this certification.
4. Can you provide references?
Be sure to ask for references from other families they have worked with. If you are giving a young babysitter a first chance, you can ask them for references from coaches, club leaders, or other trusted adults. There is nothing like a phone conversation to truly hear how a previous employer feels about your candidate.
5. Provide them with various hypothetical scenarios and ask how they would handle each situation.
These kinds of questions may put the candidate on the spot a bit, but it’s important for you to see how quickly a babysitter can think and respond in case of emergency. Possible scenarios include fevers, cuts and bruises, tantrums, refusal to go to bed, anxiety over you leaving, and sibling arguments. You know what happens in your house better than anyone, so don’t be afraid to put those real scenarios out there as a problem solving scenario.
If you have an anxious child, this type of question can be especially important to ask. “I would suggest that a parent with a child suffering from separation anxiety ask the babysitter: "How do you handle children who cling to their parents when they are leaving? Do you feel comfortable holding on to my child while we leave? How will you help my child settle down once we have left, yet he or she is still crying for us?," says Colleen Wildenheaus, mother of a 13-year-old girl suffering from severe anxiety and OCD, and blogger at Good Bye Anxiety, Hello Joy.
6. Ask questions related to transportation.
If your babysitting job doesn’t involve the candidate transporting the kids anywhere, ask questions to understand how reliable their transportation will be to and from your house. If you do need a babysitter who can drive, ask to see their driver’s license and ask detailed questions about their driving record. If your children use a car seat or booster seat, take the time to show them how it works and then ask them to show you the process on their own.
7. Describe some of your favorite activities that involve interacting with kids in the age range of yours.
Getting details related to this topic will help you determine whether this is a babysitter who relies on TV or screen time. Listen for familiarity with games and crafts and outdoor play. This will give you a window into how familiar they really are with play and how creative they can be with your children.
8. Share your general household guidelines and ask them if they are comfortable with all.
This can include guidelines for the adults as well as the children relating to things like not smoking, changing diapers regularly, discipline, screen time, snacking, and sleep or down time. Don’t hesitate to share too much upfront. You want to know sooner rather than later if there’s a potential problem.
After you’ve asked all of your questions and feel thoroughly satisfied, have them spend some supervised time with your kids. This is the ultimate way to see if they are compatible.
Most importantly, trust your gut! If you feel good about the interview and the candidate’s time spent with your kids, you can feel confident in setting up a trial babysitting time. It’s also a quick and easy way to get in a short and local date night or bit of time to take care of you.
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