A nanny or babysitter should always provide you with at least 3 references that you can call and speak with. If they also provide you with the family’s e-mail, make sure you get a chance to talk parent to parent since e-mails can be orchestrated. If they have less than a year or two of experience then they may only have 2 references. This may be sufficient since they are still building on their experience. Here are some tips to guide you through the process.

Calling the reference: The Introduction

After you introduce yourself, tell the reference why you are calling and don’t forget to mention the nanny/babysitter’s first and last name. Ask the reference if it is a good time to talk or if another time would be better. More than likely, the reference will say yes and begin to tell you about their experience with the nanny/babysitter.

***Red Flag Alert***
If the reference pauses when you ask for them or seems hesitant or nervous to speak with you, take this as a red flag. If they quickly ask if they can call you back another time, this is also a bad sign since they may not know what to say and either need to “think about” whether or not they want to tell you that the nanny did a poor job or they may be a fake reference that isn’t sure what they are supposed to say. They may then call the nanny/babysitter and find out what they are required to say and then call you back at a later time with the fake facts. When they call back, listen to your gut. It could also just be a coincidence. If the reference seemed caught off guard and unwilling to speak with you, then it’s best to move on to another nanny. If you feel they may have just been really busy then you may want to give the nanny another chance and move on to the next reference. Unfortunately, nothing is 100% and a small percent of nannies will use their best friend as a reference. Trust your instincts and have peace of mind knowing that you are one step closer to finding a great nanny.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s proceed with the questioning.

Reference Questions
If the reference is happy to speak with you then begin your questioning. Try and keep them short since the reference may only have a few minutes to spare.

•    How long have you known “nanny’s name”?
•    How long did ”  ” work for you?
•    Approximately how many hours per week did she work for you?
•    How would you describe her personality?
•    What are her best attributes?
•    What are her worst attributes?
•    How did your children like her?
•    Was she always excited to show up for work?
•    Was she organized?
•    Was she flexible with the hours for you?
•    Was she active with the children?
•    Is she patient?
•    Is she punctual?
•    Is she enthusiastic? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
•    Does she perform well in emergencies?
•    Were you comfortable with her driving your children?
•    Did she ever complain, ask to be paid early or ask for more money?
•    Did she need any supervision or did you feel confident leaving her alone with the children?
•    Did she take direction well?
•    Did she pick up after herself and the children?
•    Are there any areas she could improve in?
•    Would you rehire her?
•    Why did she stop working for you?
•    Is there anything else you think I should be aware of?
•    Can I contact you again if I have any more questions?

Make sure you call at least 3 childcare related references and 2 personal references. Don’t just get one outstanding reference and then throw in the towel. It’s a little tedious but goes by quickly.

Click Here for NannyCare.com’s reference checking questions.

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