I can't tell you how hard it is to find people that take babysitting seriously. During my time operating an agency that places babysitters for ongoing, permanent, or on-call positions I've heard and seen it all, and I'm still surprised at the laissez faire approach that people try to get away with when talking to me about why they want to babysit. If I were a parent I would want someone like me to take on the recruiting process. It is one of the worst parts of doing what I do. People don't show up for interviews, don't return your calls, show up late for interviews, come to an interview dressed inappropriately, and so many other things.
Once the first visual impression has taken place I then have to listen to them communicate. I've had responses like: "What's the big deal. It's just babysitting. I've been doing that since I was 12", "Why do I need to have some college I'm just taking care of kids", "I'm a mom and I don't have any college what's the big deal?", "Babysitting is easy, I especially like taking care of babies," "Don't you just sit and watch the kids?" "I just need some extra cash so sitting around with some kids seemed like a good answer". I could go on.
I am appalled at these responses. First of all, yes, I was babysitting from the time I was 12 BUT was I a good babysitter at 12; that would be a resounding NO! Do I understand the difference between the serious responsibility I've been given when babysitting now; unequivocally YES! That's why I don't hire babysitters that haven't reached some level of maturity to understand that. That's why I have a requirement of some college, hopefully that helps to ensure some level of maturity and professionalism, and this isn't guaranteed either.
I've learned after 6 years of recruiting that my intuition combined with logic is ALWAYS right. I've gone against my intuition when I've conducted background checks and reference checks that have been good then hired a babysitter only to confirm that my intuition was spot on, and they didn't deserve my consideration or employment!
First impressions are so important, and if a candidate can't even respect the position enough not to show up in short-shorts and a t-shirt, or unkempt hair and hygiene then I can't expect them to be respectful of the important position of babysitter. When I first started this business I dress professionally to interview, and I've hired some people that didn't and sure enough ultimately let me down. Be wary of the babysitters that want to do nothing but talk, have a lot of excuses for personal events, won't give you paperwork that you ask for, seem to be difficult to contact, and can't follow basic instructions like; send their, and they simply send you an email without a resume.
Yes, I'm particular when it comes to my team of babysitters but I don't take the responsibility of childcare lightly. I'm one of those people that believes that children actually are important, a family's schedule is important, and that just isn't lip service. I want parents to feel safe, and the children happy.
Every family is unique and their nanny wish lists are very different. Below is a sampling of possible questions that can shape your nanny interview; pick the ones that are most relevant to your situation.
1) General background of the candidate
- Can you describe your parents' philosophy of raising children?
- Where did you spend your early years?
- What are your hobbies and interests?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
- What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
- What are your most significant accomplishments?
- Do you have a current position and why do you want to leave?
- What are your expectations for your next position?
- What are your long-range goals?
2) Attitudes towards children and childcare knowledge
- Why did you choose to become a nanny?
- What qualities do you have that make you a good caregiver?
- What do you enjoy about looking after children?
- How many years of experience do you have with infants/toddlers?
- Do you have experience with potty training?
- What kinds of activities would you do with a (age of your child) year old?
- How would you handle a child's crying or a temper tantrum?
- Are you interested/able in taking the children to programs in the area?
- When do you think it’s safe for the children to be unsupervised?
- Are you comfortable/willing to work on homework with the children?
- Are you willing to supervise play-dates in your child's home?
- What do you find the most challenging/interesting part of working with children?
3) Talents/Skills of Candidate
- Do you enjoy reading books to children; name a few favourites.
- Are you willing/able to sing to a child (jingles,lullabies…)
- Would you describe yourself as artistic, athletic or both?
- Are you confident and willing to cook for the chldren?
- What would you cook for children aged 0-1 and 2-5?
- Are you trained in First Aid?
- What would you do in the case of a blow to the head?
- What would you do if the child is choking?
- How would you treat a high fever?
- Do you have a driver’s license?
- Are you able to drive a standard or automatic car?
- Do you have a car (rear seat belts)?
- What type of insurance do you have? (Fully comprehensive/3rd party?)
- Would you be willing to do light housework?
- Would you be willing to cook for the whole family?
- Do you speak a second language?
4) Employment Details
- When would you be available to start a new position?
- What salary are you seeking?
- Are you willing/able to make a one-year commitment?
- Can you provide three current references with phone numbers?
- How do you feel about a trial period;how long should this be?
- What hours do you expect to work each week?
- What are your holiday expectations?
5) Concluding Remarks
- What would you like to say about yourself and this position to conclude this interview?