Oh boy – you’ve found a potentially great babysitter and now you need to check the babysitter’s references! If you found the sitter through a friend, then it’s easy! You already got the reference you need. It saves you a lot of time. (And, Sitter makes it super easy to find your babysitters through friends.)
If you didn’t find your babysitter through a friend’s recommendation then this is a critical step but sometimes it can be a little awkward. As a fellow parent, you know they’re busy and might not have time to talk to you. But, as a fellow parent, they also understand the importance of finding the right babysitter. So, do not be shy. Give those references a call and just be respectful of their time. You often find out all you need to know by the tone and demeanor of their voice when you first mention the sitter’s name.
Ask your babysitter for 2-3 references. Get their names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
Try calling first.
Call the parent and introduce yourself. Say,
“Hi! My name is [Your Name]. I’m calling because [Babysitter’s Name] listed you as a reference and said she previously babysat for your family. If you have a moment, I would love to get your opinion on her performance.”
At this point, the tone and demeanor of the voice are huge indicators of what you need to know. If the parent:
- Sounds excited to talk to you, that’s a great start.
- Says, “Sorry. I can’t right now,” or seems uncomfortable. This is a red flag. However, it could be that they truly are not able to talk to you at that moment, so ask if you can arrange a time to call back. If they blow you off, red flag.
- Asks, “Who?” Unless there is some static on the line and they just didn’t hear you, some alarm bells should be going off.
QUESTIONS TO ASK THE BABYSITTER’S REFERENCE
- How long and how often did she babysit for you?
- If the answer is, “Never. I’m just a friend of the family,” or something along those lines… Ding! Ding! Ding! Did you hear that alarm? Unless you knew ahead of time that it was a family friend and she said she didn’t have any prior experience, this is a major red flag.
- How did you find her?
- The best answer to this is that the parent found them because they were referred by a friend.
- Why are they not babysitting for you anymore?
- There are lots of legitimate reasons for this. If they seem uncomfortable with this question or seem wishy-washy, it’s a red flag. They should know this and be able to articulate it clearly if it was anything other than something wrong with the babysitter’s performance.
- Was the babysitter reliable and dependable? Can you give me examples?
- You want an answer like, “She always showed up on time and rarely cancelled. Or, if she cancelled, she would give me plenty of notice.”
- What was her personality – warm, strict, upbeat, or energetic?
- This is a completely subjective question. Unless they say something like, “She reminded me of that axe murderer woman from that horror movie,” take whatever they say with a grain of salt. It’s great to get an indication of personality type, but don’t rule someone out based on their answer to this question alone. If you’ve done your phone or in-home interview, you probably have a good idea of this already.
- What did your kids like/dislike about her? What did you like/dislike about her?
- This will give you a true indication of their babysitting style. If the answer is, “My kids loved her because she played with them all the time”, great! If they say, “Well, I loved her but my oldest kid wasn’t too keen because she made him do his homework,” give her a gold star. 🙂 Just listen to what they say and know your child’s personality. One kid may love a babysitter and the other one might hate her – this can even happen in the same family!
- How well did she follow directions?
- This can give you an indication if the babysitter is a pushover or flaky.
- How comfortable did you feel about her ability to handle an emergency?
- We don’t have to tell you what you’re looking for here.
- I have [#] kids, [Boys / Girls]. They’re [X] years old, and they are pretty [Quiet / Active ], how do you think she would do with them?
- If they used them as a babysitter for a while, they should be able to give a good answer to this question.
- Would you hire her again?
- Anything other than a big “YES!” is a red flag unless they give a legitimate reason as to why they wouldn’t.
- Is there anything else you think I should know about her?
- This open-ended question is great to tie up any loose ends.
CLOSING THE CALL
Thank them for their time and tell them you appreciate their honest feedback. Give them your phone number in case they think of anything else that’s helpful for you to know.
By now, you’ve read the babysitter’s profile (if you found them online or in the Sitter app). Done a “weed-out” interview. Done an in-home interview. And, checked references. Now, it’s a gut decision. Do you feel comfortable with this babysitter? If not, then it’s a major red flag. Move on to the next one.