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Questions to Ask Babysitter References – Some Crucial Tips

Questions to ask babysitter references are important to help ascertain the qualities of an applicant. Children are the most wonderful gift in the world, and nothing compares to having them. It is also one of the most tremendous responsibilities to care for them. Any parent can tell you that this is true. This is why hiring a nanny properly is extremely important. One must make absolutely sure that the babysitter they hire is going to do a great job of taking care of our dear little ones.

This post was contributed by a guest author.


Initially talking to a nanny can be quite a roundabout experience especially if you are not guided by a set of questions to reveal what is vital. After an interview and you have gotten a first-hand encounter with a potential candidate, the next step is also as important, if not even more crucial.  The flaw in interviews is that an applicant will always put their best foot forward. This is why it is so vital that you double-check a nanny for consistency and good character by seeking out references.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References – A Definitive Guide

These questions will be able to find out an applicant’s actual record of accomplishment. You will also be able to track certain characteristics that are either consistent or inconsistent. These will all be able to make you arrive at an informed decision on whether to hire or not hire someone for your child. If you make up your mind to hire a babysitter it is of the utmost importance that you subject the applicants to the vetting process. This can be tedious, but well worth the effort.

Biodata sheets, interviews, and even background checks or police clearances are all good things to look into and evaluate. Even agency-sourced candidates need to be cross-checking. One of the best ways to verify any claims of competence is to get accounts from references. These are people that either knows the babysitter or have experienced having that person actually babysit.

This post is by all means not definitive, but it will set you in the right direction to effectively do a reference check on your nanny applicants so you can be equipped to make the right selection.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References

The Questions to Ask To Reveal Vital Babysitter Information from References

As you meet or get to communicate with babysitter references, start first with general questions about your nanny candidate that has generated your interest. These questions will lead to answers that should give you a sense of the general characteristics of an applicant, and if they match your impressions. As you get to know more about a nanny applicant, you can proceed to ask more detailed and specific questions.

This will help you to evaluate if that babysitter is suitable for your child and its needs. You will also be able to sense if that person will get along with you and your parenting style. I have some broad topic questions that can help get you started to get a feel of the character of a prospective babysitter.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References – What Was the Duration of the Babysitter’s Last Job?

When you get to ask babysitter references about general questions, an important one is to establish the accuracy of how long your nanny worked in a previous engagement. Go for confirmation of specific dates. Dates that you get to confirm with specificity will help establish your babysitter’s honesty.  

An applicant might be padding dates to appear longer to convey more experience than they actually have. Dishonest duration declared in a CV might also be hiding the fact that your nanny candidate is a job hopper.

However, if the dates do appear as accurate, then this can easily establish certain characteristics that your nanny possesses. For instance, a prolonged job engagement will denote loyalty. It can also be indicative of a nanny’s competence since an employer keeps them for prolonged periods of time.

Reasons Why a Babysitter Ended An Engagement

These are crucial questions to ask babysitter references since it will again establish honesty and integrity. First of all, the reasons given by a babysitter applicant should be consistent with what a reference will cite. If the circumstances are legitimate, then there is no need to worry. However, if you get stories that actually led to termination then you should perhaps look for another candidate. You will also be able to establish if an applicant is too picky about employer conditions.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References

Questions to Ask Babysitter References – What Were The Responsibilities Of The Babysitter?

Knowing the duties and responsibilities set forth by a previous employer will help to identify for you if you are satisfied with the scope of work your nanny was tasked to do. Do you expect more from what you found out? Or who knows perhaps you expect less. This will all help to manage expectations and outcomes if you do hire that person. Duties and responsibilities will also aid in guiding you to craft a fair compensation package for your prospective nanny.

How Did Your Candidate Fare With Basic Things Like Honesty, Punctuality, and Responsibility?

Honesty is always a hallmark of character and if your applicant falls short, this is already grounds for disqualification. Being on time also reveals a lot about a person, and shows that they value their work and give it importance. Responsibility is of course vital especially since a babysitter will be looking after your child or children for you

Questions to Ask Babysitter References – What Was The Attendance Like Of Your Nanny Candidate?

Attendance is always the first area where you evaluate a person’s job performance. Even before you look at how ell they do at the job, were they present in the first place. If your reference tells you of a spotty attendance record, then move on. However, if you are told of a very good attendance record and minimal leaves, then you are wise to pursue evaluating that babysitter candidate.

Is Your Nanny A Take Charge Type of Character as The Needs Present Themselves?

Again, if you hire a babysitter to take up some of the slack, are they capable and competent at making minor decisions and judgment calls? Or do they need to ask you about every little detail? A nanny that consults you is a good thing, but if you are able to set the ground rules and your expectations, they should be capable of making minor decisions so you are also not badgered as you attend to work.

A nanny that can have some amount of initiative will help you be able to focus on things that keep you occupied like your job. This is an area where a reference can help you and even point out a specific situation where a nanny was able to take charge responsibly.

Does The Babysitter Have A Good Way Of Communicating With The Entire Family?

During the interview, you will be able to size-up the communication skills of your applicant babysitter. However, how well they keep you informed or interact while on the job can only be attested to by babysitter references if you ask the right questions. Did they initiate communicating necessary things? Do they have a pleasant demeanor that matches your family, especially the child being cared for? Do they speak in a manner that is suitable as an example for the children?

These communication skills are all essential to consider when you make your selection process.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References

Does Your Nanny Candidate Shine In Any Particular Area? Do They Have Any Weak Traits?

Since an interview will have your babysitter applicant putting their best foot forward, you will have to investigate for weak traits or faults. A reference can help you with this. Nobody is perfect, but it helps a lot to know weaknesses so you can anticipate them or help your babysitter overcome them. Knowing their strengths of course helps a lot too.

How Are The Organizational Skills Of The Babysitter Candidate?

Depending on the scope of work that you will delegate to your nanny, then you will require more or less organizational capabilities. If you are immersed knee-deep in work and need a take-charge type of babysitter, then they will have to have a good grasp of organizing things for your child. School events, doctor appointments, parties, and other activities have to be within the scope of responsibility your babysitter should know.  

Are There Things To Know That A Babysitter Will Not Readily Admit?

Still more on weak traits, a babysitter applicant might not readily admit certain flaws. To be specific, they might a bit hard of hearing, or perhaps have poor eyesight. More examples that could affect work quality is do they have a needy family that always interrupts work? Previous babysitter references can enlighten these questions.

How Is The Overall Health Condition Of The Babysitter Candidate?

The overall health and energy of your nanny will directly affect how competent they are at the job. Keeping up with little ones requires some amount of stamina and miles of patience. A reference should be able to tell you how physically fit a prospective nanny is, and how far their patience extends when it comes to dealing with kids. A reference can also tell you if things do not easily distract your nanny applicant like her phone.

Does Your Babysitter Candidate Rise To Unexpected Situations?

Ask the reference if your nanny candidate knows how to respond to unexpected situations. For instance, do they accommodate a request to stay an hour later if something comes up at the office? Do they show understanding and empathy towards you or the children when something unexpected occurs and requires their added service?

Ask a Reference If They Would Engage the Services Of The Babysitter Again

One of the best ways to determine how good a babysitter is by asking a previous employer if they would hire them again. If they say yes without hesitation, that is great. If they hedge and hesitate a positive response, then that is a red flag for you.

Ask About Other Skills

Did the babysitter need to drive a vehicle? Do you need other skills such as basic education techniques in case your child is home-schooled? Does your nanny have to cook or prepare food? A reference will be able to tell you these things and how well a babysitter accomplishes them.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References

Questions to Ask Babysitter References – Ask About the Overall Soundness the Babysitter Has When It Comes To Safety

Make sure from your reference that there is absolutely nothing shady or fishy about the babysitter candidate. That nothing ever went missing at home, or that they practiced excellent safety habits with the kids. Also, make certain from the reference that the applicant does not have any low life acquaintances.

Find Out If Travel or The Occasional Trip Is Not A Problem

If your job takes the entire family a lot on travel, make sure your babysitter can easily be uprooted. This is crucial if you move around a lot due to work. A nanny applicant might be great in all aspects but if they cannot leave a certain place, then they might not be suited to your lifestyle or work.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References – Is The Babysitter Good Under Duress?

Also, inquire if your babysitter candidate responded well under stressful or harried conditions. Looking after a child can easily turn into anxious situations. There is also the occasional emergency that needs the adults in the situation to be a source of calm. I hope that your nanny candidate handles these stressful situations well.

Things to Look Out For In A Reference

When you get the chance to query a reference, always make sure that you have their undivided attention and that they can answer your questions with full certainty. You do not want to rely on a reference that just seems to patronize your concerns. Also, pay close attention to how enthusiastically a reference will talk about their previous nanny.

A reference might simply be too polite or kind to tell you any faults, so use your judgment and discernment well. One that speaks with enthusiasm, familiarity, and affection is always a good sign. If your reference seems to just be polite and civil, that might be a red flag.

What Is A Good Number Of References?

The more the better! However, if you want to establish consistency and a pattern of character and behavior, 3-5 references should be able to confirm both the negative and the positive traits.

Questions to Ask Babysitter References – In Conclusion

Your child and family are the most precious in the entire world. When you entrust part of their time to another adult, make sure you properly screen that person to ensure that your loved ones get the best care.  Take the time to consult references, and this will help you select the ideal babysitter.

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