Thank you to Paul Taylor of Babysitterjobs.com for this guest post on the top questions to ask before hiring a babysitter. As parents, we all have times we need a sitter for a night out, to attend a meeting or to take on a nanny role while working outside of the home. Here Paul offers some tips on finding a sitter you can trust who can fit into your family dynamics and parenting values. I would also add that once you’ve narrowed down your search, ask your top picks to come over and meet your child/children. Observe how she interacts with them, is she talking to them, does she move her body down to their level, how does she try to put your children at ease?
Do you really know the individual sitting in front of you applying to be your babysitter? Most of the time, the answer is a resounding, “No.” The process of hiring a babysitter can be quite a serious undertaking. You are inviting this person to care for the most important people in your life. You need to be absolutely sure the person you are considering is going to be right for the job. So here are my top 10 questions to ask before hiring a babysitter.
1. “What kind of experience do you have?”
Knowing the candidates background experience can help you gain perspective on their capabilities. The more experience this individual has regarding children, the better you will feel about leaving them alone with your own.
2. “Have you taken childcare courses?”
Although this may not be mandatory, it is still good to know if this person has been a part of courses regarding childcare. Certificates or accommodations regarding such education and training are always a plus.
3. “What is your policy on discipline?”
This question can lead reveal a lot for you. Not everyone views discipline the same way. Regardless of the answer, you should always inform the candidate about what is acceptable forms of discipline within your home and what ways are not okay with you.
4. “Have you received medical training such as CPR?”
Being able to keep a cool head during an emergency to perform CPR may be one of those abilities that can increase the value of a candidate. As accidents may happen, wouldn’t you feel comfortable if your child was with someone who knew how to perform CPR and basic first aid?
5. “What is the age range of children you are willing to care for?”
Some people feel more comfortable around children of specific age groups. Don’t think badly of these people since it is personal preference and some just can’t handle specific ages.
6. “What constitutes an emergency phone call?”
We live busy lives and we don’t need to be interrupted at work with various questions such as lunch menu items or what clothes to wear. The babysitter needs to be self-sufficient and take initiative based on your direction. She should also be able to gauge when they should notify a parent.
7. “What makes you good with children?”
This is a question designed to help you see how the candidate sees themselves. In order to get truthful answers from your candidate, you need to put them on the spot on a personal level. Ask for specific examples.
8. “What activities would you like to plan for the child or children?”
Knowing what the babysitter has in mind for engagement can help you determine if he or she is going to fit into your dynamic. You should know what activities your children like and you can compare the two. Consider if this candidate would likely be down on the floor playing a game, running around with them outside or planning a craft.
9. “What will you do if the children don’t respect your authority?”
Some children often view the babysitter as someone to disregard. They could go as far as to completely ignoring your candidate. He or she needs to know how to handle that kind of a situation. [Leah’s comment: I would also be all over my children if I had any sense that they were being disrespectful of a sitter or other adult I put in charge of their care. I feel this should be an issue that is directed by the parents who can authorize a sitter with certain techniques and tools to use should a child not cooperate. This links back to question #3, be sure your sitter is aligned with your discipline style and philosophy.]
10. “What is your hourly pay?”
Solidifying a payment schedule in the beginning can help dissolve any questions later. Most babysitters are open to negotiation, especially if you’re hiring high school students.
Caring for a child is more than merely sitting him or her down in front of the television and talking to friends on the phone. Depending on the situation, care for the child could even include educational materials, cooking meals, or light housekeeping tasks. Those expectations should be agreed upon in advance.
Another thing you should consider before hiring your candidate is performing a national scope background check. Although they may look like the perfect babysitter, they could have a record in another state. A background check could also reveal if your candidate was inconsistent with experience and education related questions. Wouldn’t you rather know everything than not enough?
Paul and his wife Julie both work for www.babysittingjobs.com doing blogging and researching all things related to childcare.