A child care expert gives us pointers ... and red flags to look out for.
Genevieve Thiers: When conducting a sitter interview, it's just
as important for parents to use their eyes as much as their ears. What
the sitter says is crucial, but how she says it and how she conducts
herself can be just as telling. Momlogic's child care expert Genevieve
Thiers tells us what parents should look for in the sitter interview.
When scheduling an interview, logic may tell you to schedule it for a point in the day when your kids will be occupied and you can quiz the sitter uninterrupted. Not quite, says Thiers.
Instead, make sure your little loved ones will be present. "This is a crucial step in the interview process because it will give you the direct opportunity to see how the sitter reacts to and interacts with your children," Thiers explains.
You may also choose to excuse yourself from the room for a few minutes so you can determine whether or not the sitter's demeanor changes when you're not around.
QUALITIES OF A GOOD SITTER
Another thing to watch for during the interview is energy. "It is so important that your babysitter be excited, alert, and eager to help you," says Thiers. An energetic sitter won't resort to sticking the kids in front of the TV while she chats on the phone with her friend for two hours, long-distance. Instead, she's much more likely to use her creativity to organize fun activities, play games, suggest a bike ride, and get the kids outside and moving.
A few more brief things to look for in a sitter during the interview:
• Good eye contact
• General cleanliness in presentation
• A readiness to communicate and ability to communicate well
• A good grasp of routine and how to get one started
• A sense of humor
Sometimes, it's more about what the sitter DOESN'T do than what she does. Before, during, and after the interview, you'll also want to be on the lookout for certain red flags in the hiring process:
Doesn't arrive on time to the interview.
If the sitter is late to the interview without calling, she'll do the same with jobs. If something important does prevent a sitter from being on time to the interview, you'll want a sitter who is responsible enough to call you to let you know what's going on. No phone call + no-show = not a responsible sitter. Move on!
Doesn't talk very much and doesn't ask you questions.
If you're the one doing all the talking and asking questions during the interview (yes, the sitter needs to ask you questions, too), it could mean one of three things for your sitter. One, she may just be shy, which may or may not be a good fit for your family. Otherwise, her silence could mean that, two, she's ill prepared, or, three, she's just not that into her job -- both bad signs.
Doesn't have verifiable references.
If the sitter's reference appears constantly busy and can never take your calls, this could be a sign that she is uncomfortable vouching for the sitter and is using her schedule to avoid the discussion. If you do reach the reference, use your gut to determine if anything seems off, as a sitter could have a friend posing as a reputable reference who will tell you exactly what you want to hear.
IMPORTANCE OF INSTINCTS
Beyond all of these tips, there's just one more vital tip that you absolutely must follow: trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right during the interview, then move on to the next candidate. There are tons of available babysitters out there, such as those on Sittercity.com, so don't hire a sitter simply because you worry that you might not have options.
|Genevieve Thiers is the founder and CEO of Sittercity.com, the country's largest and most trusted online source for child care. Through Sittercity, she has been able to transform her vast child care experience into an award-winning company and the industry leader in online care. She also literally wrote the book on child care, titled "Love at First Sit."|