Hands down, the hardest part of finding the perfect sitter is the time-consuming interview process. If you’re lucky, you’ve received several qualified resumes, all which show great experience, which makes it hard to decide on the ultimate best choice.
But of course, there’s so much more to finding a perfect sitter than strictly reviewing a list of qualifications. So how can you tell within the interview if a sitter is really a good fit for your family?
What sets apart the great sitters from the good sitters isn’t something you can find on a piece of paper. Personality traits can make a huge difference in the way a sitter cares for your children. Keep an eye out in your interviews for the following traits, which will help you find a sitter that’s just right for your family.
Being proactive is one of the most important traits to have when working with children. Anticipating the needs of others and being prepared for not-so-great scenarios like a scraped knee at the park or a bathroom accident is incredibly beneficial.
Sitters who are proactive not only anticipate any potential future issues, but they also plan for future fun. For example, great sitters come to the job ready to arrange an exciting week with the kids by scoping out new local opportunities like a farmers market in the area or a free library event.
Proactive sitters are always ready for anything, whether it’s a mini-disaster on the playground or a new afternoon adventure.
Interview questions to ask: What types of activities would you plan for the kids each week? What would you bring with you on an outing with the kids to make sure you’re prepared for anything?
Adaptable & flexible
Sitters who are adaptable and flexible understand that working with children requires caretakers to be accepting and understanding of change. Children are not predictable and a great sitter accepts that things may not go perfectly or always as planned.
Flexible sitters will know how to navigate sudden change quickly and efficiently. For example, if one of your children leaves their lunch at home, an adaptable sitter will be there and ready to bring it to school. What about a last-minute doctor’s appointment for your kiddos? A great sitter will be ready to change up the day’s plans and get them to the appointment quickly and easily.
Interview question to ask: Share an example of a time when you were babysitting and the schedule for the day changed unexpectedly. What did you do to recover?
Confidence allows individuals to have greater strength and capabilities, more energy and motivation to act, and overall greater success. All of these benefits are important to consider when choosing the person who will be spending a large amount of time with your children.
Children model the behaviors they see from trusted adults in their lives (also known as observational learning). If your sitter models a confident behavior like positive self-talk (expressing what they like about themselves out loud), your children will model that behavior. This can help them work on building their own self-confidence.
Interview question to ask: What are your biggest strengths as a sitter?
Like most jobs in the world, good communication skills are invaluable. Being able to express and meet expectations, ask questions that matter, and maintain steady lines of communication are all the more important when children are involved.
Do you have rules about screen time? iPads? Cell phones? A great sitter coordinates strong lines of communication with you to ensure that your family values, rules and ideals are upheld under their care. They’re also dedicated to providing regular text updates about how things are going while you’re away, and offer detailed reviews of the day when you get home.
Interview question to ask: How do you make sure the family’s rules are upheld while you’re babysitting?
By Brittany A. Hamilton, former Sittercity sitter