The end of the hiring process is in sight. Whether you've narrowed down your search to a couple candidates or there is one who seems to be the right fit for your family, reference checks should validate what you've observed in the interviews. Make sure to cover everything from work ethics to challenges on the job to personality quirks with their former employers -- the tough stuff matters.
Use this list as a guideline for the kinds of questions you should ask in your potential caregiver's reference interview to help you make a good choice for your family.
- How long did you employ her?
- Why did she leave?
- What was her compensation level?
- What are her strengths, and what about her do you most respect?
- In what areas could she improve? (This is a really important question! Let the former employer complete her list first. If she can't think of anything, you may offer up an instance that the caregiver raised in the interview, such as: "She mentioned that she sometimes loses her patience. Have you experienced that before? If so, can you describe an incident where that happened?")
- How are her communication skills? (Both with the parents and the children.)
- Does she have initiative?
- Is she organized?
- Does she handle stress well?
- Is she warm and social?
- How is her energy level?
- Can she work independently, or does she need very specific directions?
- How would your children describe her?
- If you were to rate her overall performance as a caregiver, would you consider it excellent, average or poor? Why?
- Would you hire her again? Recommend her?
Duties and Fit
- Other than caregiving, what did her duties entail? Was she open to other responsibilities?
- Let me tell you more about the duties I'm planning to give her. I'd love your feedback on whether this is the right job for her given your own experience with her.
- What advice can you give me on managing her?
- Do you have any final comments?
- Please let me know which aspects of the reference check I can share with others and which ones are strictly confidential.
If you feel uncomfortable reaching out to references, Care.com can record interviews with the caregiver's former employer for you, with the caregiver's consent. Either way, reference checks are essential to the hiring process.
Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite.