Q. We need to hire a babysitter for when I go back to work in a few weeks. Any suggestions for questions to ask in the interview?”
It’s a great thing if you have trusted family members who are willing and able to pitch in with child care — but it’s not always possible. If you’re faced with the prospect of hiring someone you don’t know very well to care for your child, it’s really important to do your homework and ask the right questions. Here are some questions to start you out:
- “Can I have your full name, address and phone number?” Sounds obvious, but don’t forget to ask for someone’s complete information.
- “How long have you been driving?” “Is there anything on your driving record I should know about?” If your sitter is going to be driving your child around, also ask to see her license and copy down the license number. Seriously consider performing an online background and driving-record check.
- “Can you tell me about the last families you’ve worked for? Do you mind if I call them?” Ask, and then follow through. When you speak with previous employers, ask both specific and open-ended questions, like “Tell me about Rebecca” and “How did she discipline your children?”
- “What do you do when children misbehave?” It’s important to talk house rules and discipline with a sitter. Empower her to employ time-outs or other methods and make it clear how you feel about physical punishment.
- “How much do you charge? Are checks okay?” Be up-front about what you’ll pay and how you’ll pay it. If you offer steady employment, some sitters may be okay with being paid by check at the end of the week.
- “What do you do when babies get fussy?” or “What would you do if a 1-year old (or a 2- or 3-year old) is bored?” That kind of question can give you a good sense of whether or not the sitter will take the initiative to entertain your child creatively.
- “What’s your schedule like? Are there any days or holidays coming up when you know you won’t be available?”
- And finally, before you commit to hiring someone, ask yourself, “What does my gut say?” Even if a prospective sitter gives all the right answers and looks perfect on paper, trust your instincts. If something feels wrong to you about a person for whatever reason, don’t leave your child with them.