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How to Find and Interview a Babysitter

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One of the scariest things I have had to do as a parent is trusting a babysitter to watch my children. I know that no one will take care of them as well as I do, so allowing anyone to care for them when I’m not there takes a giant leap of faith. That being said, I have had several really good experiences with babysitters, including the person who takes care of my kids while I work each day. I have become more comfortable with using child care because of the vetting system my husband and I have developed over time. I’ll share that system with you, along with some ways to find quality child care in your area.

What Kind of Child Care Do I Need?

When looking for child care, you need to first identify your needs. Here are some questions to consider:

  •     How many children will they care for?
  •     For how many days or hours do you need child care per week?
  •     Is this a position with regular hours or only occasional?
  •     How much experience do you require?
  •     Do your children respond well to adults? Teenagers?
  •     Does your babysitter need to be able to drive your children places?
  •     What is your budget for child care? What hourly or daily rate would you offer?

Once you have answered these questions, you have an idea of the babysitter you need. Now, how to find them?

How to Find a Babysitter

There are quite a few options for finding child care candidates. Online search sites are becoming more and more popular, as they allow you to begin vetting candidates before they know you are researching them. I have had great success using a search site by area that includes reference checking and background checks. Another option for finding a babysitter is to ask people you know who have children of similar ages. Many other parents may know of someone who is available, and can provide a good reference for the candidate. Other places to inquire are your child’s teachers, church members, local universities and your coworkers and friends. You never know where you will find your next babysitter!

How to Interview a Babysitter

Narrowing down a list of potential candidates to the right child care provider can be difficult. I recommend starting with a phone interview before meeting the candidates in person. You will usually be able to rule out some candidates (no matter how good they looked initially) based on a phone interview. Also, this prevents your children from meeting and getting attached to someone that you determine you don’t want to hire. During the phone interview, you will want to ask questions about their background, past babysitting jobs, and their availability. But while you are asking these things, you’ll also want to look for subtle indicators that they may or may not be the right person for the job.These indicators include level of maturity, general attitude and flexibility.

Phone interview questions:

  •     Describe your babysitting experience.
  •     What ages have you cared for?
  •     What is your availability?
  •     What rate per hour (or day) are you looking for?
  •     Describe a scary situation that you have had while caring for a child.
  •     What happened and how did you handle it?
  •     Why do you want to be a babysitter?

Search Online for Information

It’s amazing what you can find online by simply searching for a person by name! Before you meet any candidate in person, perform an exhaustive search online to see what information is available. Search Facebook for an account, and read everything that is visible to you. Look at any pictures, which could be signs of negative behavior. Also, check Twitter for posts. Lastly, search Google for the person’s name. I recommend searching for the name, then try another search with it in quotation marks. Search Google’s image page also for any pictures. The Google search is critical because it scans areas that you wouldn’t necessarily know to look. When searching Google for one candidate, I found a court record of an arrest for this person (the name, city, and state matched). I couldn’t tell the charge, so I asked her about what I had found. Her hesitation to answer was a red flag for me, and she didn’t get the job. I don’t know what the arrest was for, or whether she was convicted of anything. Her hesitancy to discuss it let me know she wasn’t the candidate for my family. You can also find information in other ways. One candidate I interviewed was from a small town nearby. I knew someone else from that town, so I asked if he knew her. Anecdotal evidence can be very important when selecting someone for the important job of caring for your children.

In Person Interviews

Once you have narrowed down your list to a few candidates, it’s time to meet them in person. You may choose to do this interview without your children. However, at some point in the interview process, I strongly recommend the child care candidate meet and spend some time with your children. It is imperative that you see how this person interacts with your children, how they talk to them and how your children respond to the babysitter. In just a few minutes you can spot issues that will prevent you from selecting the wrong candidate. When they interact with your children, observe how they communicate. Do they talk down to your children, or speak to them at their level? Do they issue commands or do they have conversations? Do they remember your children’s names and ask about their interests? Also, watch how your children act around the candidate. Are they standoffish? Do they warm up to them eventually (if not, this is probably not a good fit). At any point, do your children smile, laugh and invite the candidate to play? These are all signs that your children are accepting of this candidate.

Set Clear Expectations for Child Care

When you are ready to offer someone the position, make sure to set clear expectations about the commitment, including the hours and requirements of the job. Also, make sure to set checkpoints in time for when you will touch base and see how things are going (I use 30 day increments). Above all else, expect only the best and don’t be afraid to search again if someone isn’t working out. Your children are worth every minute you spend on an exhaustive search.

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Originally published: November 17, 2017
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