In the market for a new nanny or babysitter? Here are all the questions you need to ask

A woman holds a child. (Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

When you’re on the hunt for a new nanny or babysitter, it can be incredibly stressful.

Whether you’re looking to hire a complete stranger or someone you know well, and if it’s for a full-time job or just date nights, there is plenty to consider.

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Some experts in the industry -- NannyTrack co-founder Leah Clarkson and the Babysitting Company founder Rachel Charlupski -- told all the must-ask questions parents should have on hand for any interview.

Basic interview

If the person you are considering hiring is someone who has come as a recommendation by a friend, or even if it’s a neighbor, you’ll still want to chat about all the must-know information about your children, including house rules and discipline.

Here are some questions the experts recommend for situations like this:

  • How long have you been babysitting?
  • Could you be available on short notice?
  • Do you have reliable transportation?
  • Do you have experience caring for children of XX age?
  • What are some activities you enjoy doing with kids?
  • How comfortable are you enforcing house rules?
  • How do you usually deal with behavioral issues?
  • This is a screen-free/sugar-free/dairy-free/pet-friendly/non-smoking/etc. home. Are you comfortable with that?

Hiring someone you haven’t previously known, for the long-term

If you’ve never met a candidate before this process, you’ll want to do a more thorough interview, which includes arming yourself with a list of things that are important to you, and making sure to ask specific questions about those things, Clarkson said.

You’ll also want to get more details about the babysitter’s skills and experiences, as well as what kind of job they are looking for.

Here are some questions to help kick off the interview:

  • What do you love about babysitting?
  • What do you look for in an employer?
  • What do you find most challenging about caring for children?
  • Have you taken any child care or safety classes? If so, do you have copies of your certifications you can provide?
  • Are you willing to submit a background check?

Spell out your expectations

If you already know what days and hours you’re looking to fill, explain what this would look like, and write down some questions that will be specific to the kind of care you expect for your children, including things like allergies, pets, special health needs and house rules.

Here are some questions to get your wheels turning:

  • Our child requires diaper changes. Are you comfortable with that?
  • Are you willing to prepare meals and snacks for my child?
  • Are you willing to assist with homework?
  • How much do you rely on screens when caring for kids?
  • Do you have experience caring for children with XX allergies?
  • Do you have experience caring for children with special needs?
  • What would a typical day/evening/afternoon caring for my children look like?

Know all safety-related things

This could be one of the most important topics on the list. Consider all of these questions, and make sure the candidate is well aware of the importance of them all.

  • Do you have safety training in CPR, first aid or water safety? If so, can you provide your certification?
  • Do you know what the current recommendations are for safe sleep and preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?
  • Do you know which foods can cause choking and how those foods should be prepared?
  • Have you ever had to deal with an emergency while on the job? What did you do?
  • How long have you been driving and do you have a clean driving record?
  • Are you comfortable using and installing car seats?

Create mock situations for them

Create a potential situation that could arise and then ask them how they’d handle it. For instance:

  • You notice my child has a fever as you’re putting him or her to bed. What do you do?
  • The baby starts choking while playing with toys. How do you react?
  • My child won’t stop crying for mom or dad after we leave. How do you respond?
  • The toddler is throwing a tantrum. What do you do?
  • The baby had a huge blowout in his diaper. How would you handle it?

Be aware

There are some key things to pay attention to during an interview. If you’re nearing the end of your interview and your candidate has acted or said one of the following things, you may want to reconsider the hire.

  • They had forgotten about the interview altogether.
  • They don’t return calls or emails to schedule the interview in a timely manner.
  • They show up late to the interview.
  • They speak negatively about past clients or children they’ve cared for.
  • They seem unwilling to perform basic functions of the job.
  • They seem distracted or unenthusiastic.

“You want someone who is really great with children, but you want someone who is also a good role model for them, as well,” Charlupski said.

About the Author:

Dawn Jorgenson, Graham Media Group Branded Content Managing Editor, began working with the group in April 2013. She graduated from Texas State University with a degree in electronic media.