Screen a Sitter

Regardless of how you find a potential babysitter, the ultimate screening and hiring responsibility rests with you.

One of the first and most effective ways to prescreen babysitters is to clearly and accurately describe the type of babysitter you are looking for. Consider how much experience you require a sitter to have and if you require her to have her own transportation to and from your home. Writing out a job description that clearly states your children’s genders, ages and temperaments, along with the minimum requirements your babysitter must have, when you need childcare and how much you’re willing to pay can deter those who aren’t qualified or interested in your babysitting position from applying.

Since you’ll like field many queries from interested sitters, it’s also a good idea to designate a separate email address for correspondence. Having a separate email will allow you to more easily manage replies. If you opt to leave a phone number for interested sitter to contact, customize your message and ask potential sitters to leave a message with their phone numbers and an overview of their babysitting experience. Quickly respond to sitters you’re not interested in and let them know you’ve chosen someone else or you’re continuing your search.

Providing interested sitters with a standard application can help you to gather information about each sitter in an organized fashion.  Request contact information, babysitting experience and any information on specialized babysitting training they’ve received. You’ll also want to ask about their availability and for references.

After you’ve sorted through your applicants, it’s time to narrow the field to those sitters you wish to interview. Start with a phone interview. During the phone interview be sure to ask detailed questions about past babysitting experience and care giving skills. You’ll want to ask open ended questions that reflect past experiences such as “Can you tell me about a time you had to deal with a toddler having a tantrum?” Listen carefully to the sitter’s response. If the phone interview goes well you’ll want to schedule an in person interview where you can ask more probing questions and nail down the sitter’s rate. If that goes well, you may wish to have a working interview where the potential sitter meets the children.

Prior to offering a sitter a babysitting job you’ll want to check references. Call at last two childcare references and be sure to ask questions about her abilities. You’ll want to know if she was trustworthy, reliable, responsible and dependable. You’ll also want to know if the parents have any concerns about her care giving abilities and if they’d hire her again. Be sure to ask for copies of her current first aid and CPR certification as well.

For adult sitters, you’ll also want to consider conducting a background screening. While you may not wish to conduct a background screening on your college neighbor you’ve known all of her life, for others however, conducting a background screening is best practice. The more you know about an individual sitter the more educated and informed your hiring decision will be.

10 Steps to Screening a Sitter

Whether you need to hire a babysitter because you’re heading out for a much needed date night or you need backup care in case your regular childcare arrangement falls through, having a pool of prescreened babysitters available can help ensure you have a sitter when you need one.

To make the babysitter screening process easier:

  1. Request a formal application. Having a formal application will make it easy to collect vital information from sitters, such as contact information and experience, and make it easier to manage.
  2. Narrow down your candidates. After you’ve reviewed applications, decide on the sitters you wish to interview and request a phone interview. Send those sitters whom you’re not interested a quick note to let them know.
  3. Hold telephone interviews. During your phone interview be clear about your expectations and ask detailed questions about the sitter’s care giving experience.
  4. Narrow down your candidates. After the phone interviews, let those sitters whom you’re not interested in know. For those you are interested in, request references if you don’t yet have them.
  5. Check references. Call references of the sitters you’re interested in. Ask open ended questions like “Tell me about a time your sitter went above and beyond?” Listen to what they don’t say as much as to what they do say and pay careful attention to the reference’s tone of voice.
  6. Narrow down your candidates. After you’ve checked references, schedule in-person interviews with those sitters you’re seriously considering.  Let those whom you’re not interested in know.
  7. Have a face-to-face interview. During the in-person interview, talk about when and how often you need sitting, your children’s interests and routines and your expectations for your babysitter. Be sure to ask open ended questions that provide an opportunity for her to share about her experiences. Instead of asking if she likes babysitting, ask her to tell you about her favorite babysitting experience.
  8. Narrow down your candidates. After the first in-person interview, narrow down your list of potential sitters. Let those who you aren’t interested in know.
  9. Have a working interview. Contact those who you’d like to hire and schedule a second interview where she can meet the children and you can observe how she interacts with them. You’ll want to be sure your children and sitter connect, at least at some level.
  10. Hire your sitter. Once you’re confident there’s a sitter you want to hire, hire her, but be sure that she knows it is contingent on the results of a background check.