10 Ways to Test the Skills of a Prospective Babysitter
Leaving your children in the hands of someone you don’t know very well can be terrifying. Even after calling all of the references and checking every certification, you still may feel nervous about that first shift. Here are some ways to test your prospective babysitter’s skills and set your mind at ease.
- Schedule an Observation Day – Have the potential sitter come over to work a shift while you’re home. Don’t interfere unless absolutely necessary, and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. Knowing that they’re being observed is likely to change their behavior slightly, but you’ll still get an idea of how they’ll handle the job.
- Offer Scenarios – During the interview process, offer the candidate different scenarios and ask them how they would react. The ability to think and perform under pressure will be apparent, especially if they’re not prepared in advance.
- Ask Questions – Be nosy. You could be trusting this person with the safety of your children; a good babysitter will understand your need to be reassured and go the extra mile to put you at ease.
- Speak With Their References – When you contact a sitter’s references, don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions. The babysitter’s former employers are also parents and will likely be happy to provide you with direct answers.
- Contact Their Trainers – Don’t hesitate to contact the person who conducted a babysitting course; these classes are generally small and the trainer is likely to remember the sitter in question, especially if they took the class recently.
- Invest in a CPR Dummy – CPR dummies are available in adult and child sizes; investing in one is a good way to ensure that your sitter is trained, but also for rehearsal with various family members.
- Give Them an Exam – There are websites that offer free, printable quizzes for babysitters. Administering an exam (or two) can go a long way towards easing your mind; at the end, you’ll know exactly what your sitter’s strengths and weaknesses are.
- Quiz on Emergency Numbers – Be sure that your sitter either knows local emergency and poison control numbers by heart, or keeps them written down and within reach while working.
- Stage a Fire Drill – Walk through your house with a potential sitter, then either stage a fire drill or ask them what escape routes they would take in case of fire from various points in the house.
- Role Play Exercises – Though you may both feel silly, role play exercises are popular interviewing tools for many professions, with good reason. Placing the prospective sitter in situations that are likely to arise and seeing their reaction can tell you all you need to know about their character and abilities.
Use your imagination to explore other ways of testing your sitter’s skills, but always be open about your actions. If you feel the need to install nanny-cams, you should tell them that they will be filmed. In some places, you’re required by law to inform a person that they are on camera. If you find yourself with a bit of free time while you’re out, drop by unexpectedly to check on your sitter. Being watchful and vigilant is the best way to ensure the safety and happiness of your children.