Many of you are in in the transition phase of going back to work and need a babysitter or nanny. Some of you use a sitter occasionally. My guest blogger, Lisa Leshaw, has developed a solid interview process to screen and hire her babysitters and nannies. She isn't just looking for a warm body. She wants someone who will keep her kiddo safe, engage with him, and nurture him.
There are regulations in place (or pending) for basically everything on the planet.
Except for Nannies.
I know that many local schools and libraries, churches, fire departments, and Y's offer classes in Babysitting 101.
But...are they adequate enough?
Because I was not one of the fortunate ones who could rely upon a trusted family member for babysitting I designed an interview process that includes my version of the Babysitter Quiz.
Here are my basic expectations.
The candidate should come to my home prepared. For example:
- Dressed appropriately (casual but neat is necessary)
- On time
- With a notepad
- Make eye contact
- Have questions
- Show a general interest for/and comfort with my child once they are introduced.
- Bring an updated copy of their Infant/Child CPR training
I only interview a prospective nanny when my child can participate. While the two of them are interacting I casually pose questions like:
- If you need to use the bathroom what will you do with the baby?
- How many times would you be willing to re-build a tower of blocks once they tumble?
- Can you imitate the sound of a choo-choo train falling off the tracks?
- May I see you perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver on this doll?
- If you smell smoke what would you do first? second?
- What might happen that would cause you to call me at work?
- Can you stay for another 10 minutes or so?
Next, I offer the candidate a beverage and a cookie and ask them to join me at the kitchen table.
I remain quiet. The next few moments are quite telling. I have never hired someone who waits for me to lead them in conversation. I have hired a number of fabulous young women and even some young men who have chatted away with me or my child or both. I also love it when someone is comfortable enough to ask for a second beverage (but I know that sounds silly).
Many of the sitters who impressed me most posed specific questions regarding work hours, days off, salary, and access to car seats and strollers, or having visitors.
The best-qualified candidates always asked insightful questions about my little one; wanting to know his likes and dislikes, eating habits, nap times, etc.
In the end though I ultimately rely upon my instincts to guide my decision.
Since the day will probably never arise when babysitters are subjected to rigorous regulations it is incumbent upon each of us to impose our own.
What type of interview questions do you pose?
Lisa Leshaw is a mental health professional specializing in blended families, women's issues and addictions. She conducts parenting skills workshops and empowerment circles for women throughout New York.