You’ve done it. You decided to take the leap of faith and fire a babysitter. This could be for several reasons, like going out on a much-needed date night with your husband, to your maternity leave being over, so you have to go back to work. Whatever the reason, hiring a babysitter is a full-time job in itself.
After sifting through applications and sitting through interviews, you’ve found a few great potential people. This is where the really hard part begins. It’s time to check their references.
References are a huge part of making your decision to go with a particular caregiver. Were the interview might have been a top-notch experience, it’s only the surface of how the caregiver may perform. Contacting the provided references will give you behind the scene knowledge and the peace of mind you chose the right babysitter.
I’m sure you think it’s a bit strange to call up a stranger and ask them for information on their previous caregiver. So here are a few tips to help you.
Hi, my name is (enter name). I’ve called you today because (baby sitter’s name) applied to be my caregiver, and they listed you as a reference. I was curious if you have a few minutes to talk about them as far as their personality and performance?
A caregiver would rarely list someone as a reference that didn’t agree to it or someone that would give them a bad reference. It would be a huge red flag if they didn’t ask their reference to be on the list.
How do you know (baby sitter)?
– Not every reference needs to be a professional on. Providing personal character references are ok unless they are all character references.
How long have you known them?
– Be leery of references that are under a year old.
How long did they work for you?
– Like the above stated, if the babysitting job was casual, a few month’s times are ok. But if this is a reference for a daycare or nanny job that’s under a year old, be cautious.
How would you describe them?
Were they professional, on time? Adequately dressed?
What would you say are their best qualities?
What positive things did they do that you caught their attention?
What would you say are their worst qualities?
Where this might be a question, they can’t answer, especially with a babysitter they enjoyed. There are usually minor things that babysitters do that the parents might not agree with. This shouldn’t be a red flag unless they are extreme things.
How did your kids like them?
The fun thing about this question is kids are usually very honest. But, take it with a grain of salt, because it could be something like, she/he wouldn’t give them ice cream, or let them stay up later.
This is also a great time to bring up anything the sitter mentioned in the interview. Leaving your child with a stranger is a very scary thing, so asking too many questions to their previous employer is never a bad thing.
Do they have a routine?
It’s always a great idea to get an overview of the general routine they kept with previous clients. Not only because it shows their structure, but also if you wanted to address something to them if you do choose to go with them.
Are they flexible?
This is a good way to gauge if they are overbooked or have busy lives away from their job. Granted, the babysitter will react their limits if you are constantly late home from work or decide to add on a few extra errands. But it will let you know if emergencies arise, are they able to help.
Are they mature?
This question has a lot of giving and take on it. But a babysitter who spends all day talking to their friends on the phone or texting their boyfriend/girlfriend isn’t giving you children their full undivided attention.
Are they patient?
Everyone, after all, has a breaking point. But, did they experience a day where they hit their limit. If the previous employer’s child was very mellow and easy-going, this might not be an answer they can effectively reply to. It’s to help with knowing how they handled temper tantrums or toddler meltdowns that are most helpful.
Are they timely?
Punctuality is very important in the childcare profession. Whether you are headed to a dinner reservation, or to work, having a sitter that shows up on time is key.
Are they energetic?
Do they enjoy coming over to watch your child? Are they happy to see them?
Can they perform efficiently in an emergency? Can you provide me with a certain situation?
Kids are kids, and emergencies happen. This is a great question to find out how they handled an unforeseen situation.
How well did they follow directions?
Granted, your babysitter isn’t your house cleaner, but giving them a few helpful tasks for them to complete through the day is ok. Try to keep the tasks children related, like, help the children clean their rooms, doing dishes after the children have eaten.
What areas could they improve on?
This question is pretty similar to the worst qualities, but direct it more towards the children.
Closing the call:
- Would you hire them again, and if so, why not.
- Why did you stop working with them?
- Is there anything else you can add to help me with my decision?
- Can I contact you if I think of anymore question I’d like to ask?
Some of the biggest advice I can give you after hanging up the phone with a reference is to trust your gut. Did they make you feel confident with their answers? Were they hesitating or seemed off about their answers? It’s not an uncommon thing for people to list friends as their references. So definitely think twice about a baby sitter if their references seemed a bit weird.
I pulled this list of questions from www.sittercity.com; check them out for yourself for more information on talking to references.
You can never be too careful when it comes to the health and safety of your children. Here are a few other great websites with more information about talking to references:
- www.verywellfamily.com – https://www.verywellfamily.com/questions-to-ask-a-potential-babysitters-references-617114
- www.findababysitter.org – http://www.findababysitter.org/blog/10-questions-to-ask-a-babysitters-references/
- herestheplanbook.com – http://herestheplanbook.com/nanny-reference-questions