Whether you’re a new parent or a seasoned vet, every family at one point or another will need a little help when it comes to caring for the kids. It’s a part of life; things come up, and schedules don’t match. One way or another, you’ll eventually find yourself in a position where you need to think about hiring a babysitter.
For many parents, the thought of bringing someone else in to care for your child may seem scary, but babysitters can help in so many ways. Babysitters can be part-time, full-time, occasional, or one-off, meaning that no matter your needs, you’ll be covered if you find the right person.
But how do you find the right fit for your family? In this article, we’ve compiled a list of seven simple steps to follow to find your perfect fit. Regardless of your family’s situation, these tried and true procedures can help you land a babysitter both you and your kids will love. So read on to find out more!
#1: Understand Your Needs
The first thing you need to take into consideration is why you need a babysitter. Will it be for the occasional date night? Assistance with picking up and dropping off the kids from school? Whatever your reasons, your first step should be to define exactly why you’re looking to hire.
Knowing exactly how much time you will need a babysitter to commit to is an important decision-making factor as it can include or exclude different types of sitters from your search. If you’re looking for occasional or one-off care, you might find your best fit in a younger sitter — like a local teen or college student looking for a little extra cash. But if you need more consistent care, you might need to look into hiring a more seasoned vet who can help with tasks like homework, food prep, or driving, and who is available for varying hours and shifts.
Once you have defined why, when, and for how long you will need a babysitter, you’re ready for step two.
#2: Advertise Accordingly
Just like with any job, it’s a great idea to have a job description. So put pen to paper — or fingertips to keyboard — and draft out your ideal babysitting role that best suits the needs of your family. Be sure to include information like hours required, duties and responsibilities, and required availability.
After you’ve created your job posting, it’s time to advertise. In today’s day and age, the Internet is king when it comes to job searching. Not only does posting a job online allow you to reach a wider pool of applicants than just word of mouth, but it also provides you with an opportunity to review applicants before even having to contact them. More often than not, you’ll know whether or not they’re a good fit just from their initial application, so posting a job online is a great way to weed out those who aren’t a good fit right off the bat.
Sites like CanadianNanny.ca and Sitter.com can both come in handy regardless of your needs as they both hold a robust field of applicants that could prove to be your perfect fit.
#3: Phone Interview
Once your ad is active, you’ll soon see applications and requests coming in. Depending on your area, you might see dozens or even hundreds of applications to your position, so it’s important to narrow things down to those candidates you get the best vibe from off the bat.
Start by selecting a handful of applicants who you think would be a good fit and set up a time for a quick call. A simple 15-minute conversation can go a long way in helping you decide whether or not each person is right for the job based on their answers and expectations when speaking with you.
Try to keep your phone interviews short, aim to ask the same questions of each candidate, and get them to do most of the talking so you can learn more about them. A great phone interview is more about getting to know each candidate and their expectations from the role as opposed to asking them in-depth questions regarding their job history. By keeping it light, you’ll be able to gauge their interest level in the position and whether you feel this is something you can see them committing to with the dedication you require.
#4: In-Person Interview
After you’ve conducted phone interviews, you’re likely to have found at least a couple of candidates that you’d like to get to know more. This is where an in-person interview comes in. Especially if you’re hiring online, it’s always best to set up an in-person interview in a public place, both for your safety and theirs. A local coffee shop or public park can be an excellent setting for an interview as long as you both agree on the location.
An in-person interview should touch on multiple topics, such as their previous work history, their training or skills (like CPR or tutoring abilities if this is a requirement of the job), and their strengths and weaknesses.
When asking interview questions, be sure to tailor them to the requirements of the position you’re looking to fill. For example, if you don’t need them to assist with your child’s homework, testing their math skills is not a good avenue to go down. Try to stick to big-picture questions where the answers may or may not affect your children positively or negatively.
#5: Reference Check
Once you’ve completed your in-person interviews, you’ve likely been able to narrow things down to one or two candidates you think would be the best fit for you and your family. The next step is to back up that gut feeling with references.
References are a great way to determine whether or not the person you interviewed is a true reflection of who they are. Rule of thumb is to collect at least two or three references to contact so you can compare answers and back up their abilities with multiple sources.
In cases where an interviewee may not have previous experience where a reference could be available, ask for the contact information of past instructors, teachers, or coaches. These are generally more impartial people who can speak to the work ethic of the person based on their experience with them.
Just like with phone interviews, try to ask the same set of questions to each reference. If their answers vary, it may be a sign that your interviewee wasn’t as honest as they should have been. However, in most cases, reference checks are just a formality to back up the opinion you’ve likely already formed about them. A great rule of thumb is always to trust your gut. It’s usually right.
#6: Trial Run
Before you commit to a specific candidate, one of the most important steps is to test out how they interact with your children. Some people are great on paper and excel in interviews, but when it comes to actually spending time with your kids, they can fall short. That’s why you should always do a trial run with your chosen babysitter prior to officially offering them the position.
A trial can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days, but should primarily consist of a time where your potential babysitter comes over to spend time with your children while you’re around to supervise their interactions. That being said, it’s essential to allow them to bond with your children while you take a back seat and let them get to know each other.
If you want to test their skills, get your babysitter to come prepared with games or activities to do together with your kids. In the end, a successful trial will result in you, your children, and the babysitter feeling that the day was a success and could continue to be more enjoyable over time. A significant factor is to ask your kids what they thought about the sitter as, after all, it will be them that spends the most amount of time with your new hire.
#7: Negotiate a Fair Wage
Once you’ve successfully selected a babysitter, the final step is to negotiate the appropriate wage. There are multiple factors to keep in mind when it comes to paying a babysitter. You also need to understand that their expected salary and the fee you’re willing to pay may not match. So be prepared to meet in the middle if you genuinely love this babysitter.
Some factors to consider are previous experience, time commitment, additional responsibilities or requirements, schedule, location, and transportation. If a babysitter is young and inexperienced, a lower wage is usually acceptable. However, if a babysitter has been working for years and is going to be helping with tasks like food prep, driving, or homework, be prepared to pay a bit more.
Ultimately, what wage you decide upon is up to you and your babysitter, but always keep in mind that their pay should be above minimum wage for your province or territory. If you disagree on a salary, a solid compromise is a promotion system based on performance where over time they can work their way towards a higher wage.
Hire Your Babysitter
Now that you’ve followed the above steps, your last task is to officially hire your babysitter. Congrats! Though the hiring process can sometimes be tedious, ultimately this decision should be made based on what’s best for you and your family. Selecting the right candidate can take some time, but if you follow all of these steps, you’re sure to find someone amazing both you and your kids will love.