Finding the perfect sitter for your family can take work and time. Once you’ve found a handful of qualified candidates, you’ll be ready to start the interview process, but where should you begin? What do you really need to know about your candidates to help determine who will be the best fit?
While there are several obvious questions to ask a potential sitter, like how much experience they have or when they’re available to work, there are several other surprising factors that affect how a sitter will fit your family’s needs. Here are the top ten things you should learn about a sitter before you hire them:
1. Related experience
You might have already guessed this one! It’s important to know your sitter’s background when it comes to child care. You can determine a sitter’s previous experience with children by asking questions like:
Tell me about your recent experiences working with children.
What ages of children have you worked with and how long did you work with them?
Do you have any formal training or education working with children? If so, describe.
Coordinating calendars right from the start is important. You need to know if a sitter will be able to meet your family’s specific scheduling needs. What other responsibilities does your sitter have? Are they balancing multiple jobs or going to school when they’re not sitting? Does your family sometimes have last-minute needs or can you accommodate a more flexible schedule? Learning about a sitter’s schedule and availability early in the process can help you understand if a sitter will be a good fit.
3. Personal and professional goals
What does a sitter hope to achieve in their career and in their personal life? Asking a sitter to describe their unique goals will give you a better understanding of who they are as a person and ultimately what drives and motivates them as an employee.
4. Expected rates
While many tend to avoid discussing the financial aspects of a sitting or nanny job, it’s important to align on compensation expectations early in the hiring process. It’s helpful to know the average rates in your area, and include the hourly rate you’re willing to pay in your initial job post to help facilitate a conversation about wages in the interviewing stage.
What does a potential sitter value most? Honesty? Open and clear communication? Dedication? Share your own family values in the interview process to see if they match your candidate’s. While you may vary in some instances, it’s imperative to know that your sitter will uphold your family’s most important ideals even when you’re not home.
Asking about a sitter’s background is essential to learning more about their education, work, and history. Cover all the basics like where they’re from, what type of schooling they’ve had, and any other jobs they’ve held (related or not). For added peace of mind, take a look at your sitter’s profile to make sure they’ve been background checked.
7. How they handle discipline
At one point or another, your sitter will likely need to discipline your child. It’s important to understand exactly how a candidate would address disobedience in your home. Ask potential sitters to describe a time when a child misbehaved under their care, and how they handled that child’s behavior. Discussing this topic will show you if a potential sitter’s disciplinary style matches your own family’s.
8. Interests or passions
While this topic may be less obvious than others, a sitter’s interests are actually very important to know. What do they like to do in their spare time? What are they passionate about? These questions will help you get to know potential candidates as a person, and will give you a sense of how well-rounded they are. Potential sitters may also bring these passions or interests into your home to share with your children. For example, if a sitter is passionate about art, they might share their knowledge with your kids or plan fun crafts to do together.
9. Why they love working with kids
This question may seem simple, but the answers you receive will give you a good idea of why a sitter wants to work with your family. Asking a candidate what inspires them to work with children will ensure they’re passionate about becoming a crucial part of your family’s life (and that they’re not just in it for the money!)
10. What their references say about them
Lastly, it’s always good to get a second opinion about a candidate, particularly from someone who has already worked with them. References can play a huge role in ensuring that you’ve found the right sitter for your family. Learn more about how to best check references before reaching out.
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By Brittany A. Hamilton, former Sittercity sitter