Anonymous

Babysitting

What’s a good way to interview a potential babysitter? And also what’s a good environment to do it in?

  • Amanda
    Jan 21

    I was a professional nanny for over a decade. While I enjoyed meeting new families in their homes, it was often a hassle to drive out to their neighborhood and spend 1-2 hours unpaid being given a tour of their home and often being examined playing with the kids. What I found most effective for both parents and babysitter was to first have a phone conversation. That way, no one has to use gas to travel. Then if the phone conversation goes well, I either met the family at their home if they lived nearby, or we would arrange to meet at a park midway between our respective locations. I have lots more advice/insight/anecdotes to give, but starting with a phone call is the best first step in interviewing a new sitter.

  • anonymous mom
    Jan 21

    When I used to babysit and later when I nannied, I found that the best interviews I had were paid ones (lol). But basically the parents would pay me to come watch their kids and hang out for several hours while they were there. It was better than a regular interview where I’d spend scarce gas $$ to drive to their home and they’d make me tour the place and then they’d introduce me to their kids and kinda observe. This is okay as well, but it felt awkward. When I was still in high school I went to an interview where the mom told me beforehand she was going to pay me for one day and see how I did. So I went there and did my thing while she went about her thing. I also had two nanny gigs that were similar, I was basically paid for one day first while the parents were present. At the end of the day they handed me the cash we’d agreed on and pretty much said, “thanks, we will call you after we talk it over and let you know either way.” And they did. I do agree with the above, a phone interview is definitely a good start. Thinking about some obvious things, I’d also have a laundry list of questions to ask at the phone interview. Like do you smoke, etc. oh and I’d definitely find a way to ask what I always find the hardest interview question to answer (what is the one thing you know you’ll fail at while being my child’s sitter?). It’s one of those questions everyone answers terribly but the answer can tell you a lot about the person.

  • Anne
    Jan 22

    If possible, a quick phone conversation helps to cover the basics: experience, health (up to date on vaccinations? got the flu shot?), how you'd handle an emergency, etc. It shouldn't take more then 15-20 minutes at most. Then I like to do a paid "trial" for a few hours where I will be home while the babysitter is there. This lets me show her the routine and see how the kids are responding to her. Generally that's more than enough for me to see that they know what they're doing and can handle the kids independently.

  • Anonymous
    Jan 22

    Thanks guys. We do plan on doing a paid interview. But i was just wondering should we do it at our house or out like at a kids play place so the person wouldn’t be uncomfortable. But the actual babysitting would always be at our house for like date nights and things like that.

  • anonymous mom
    Jan 22

    I completely agree with the feeling of being extremely protective. I think most parents harbor this instinct on some level. If you can afford it, consider installing cameras you can access from your phone to see what’s going on. Most (if not all) states require you to inform someone they’re being recorded but it should not be a problem with the sitter. Also you can ask if they will agree to a background check. Of course a background check will only reveal documented information but it can still be helpful. Finally, ask for references. Also, is your child old enough to communicate effectively? If so ask them lots of questions after the paid interview and if you decide to go with her, after they’re left alone.

  • Amanda
    Jan 22

    A few more tidbits from the babysitter's side: I was always interested in knowing about a family's relationships with previous sitters (Are they still on good terms with past sitters? Did any sitters resign for worrisome reasons?) The families I most enjoyed working for always let me know that I was welcome to anything in the pantry (I was always respectful, though, and ate very few snacks, if any.) They would also take an interest in things that I was doing outside of babysitting (asking me about school, etc.) I also appreciated when parents would send me pictures of the kids doing activities between scheduled babysitting (for example, one mom would send me pictures of her son at swim lessons so that I'd be able to talk to him about swimming the next time I babysat.) Really just forming quality relationships made me feel valued as a sitter and helped me create more authentic relationships with the kids.

  • Sara
    Jan 22

    Definitely first have a phone call to weed out people who just aren't a good fit (they aren't available when you need them, they don't have experience with your age kids, they don't drive and you need a driver, their parenting philosophy is very different from yours, etc.) After that, I'd say definitely do a paid trial. I have always first hired babysitters as "mother's/father's helpers" to play with the kids while we are around and just doing other stuff. If that goes well, we work our way up from there.