Questions to Ask a Nanny's References

Treat your babysitter and nanny reference checks as you would an interview: prepare a list of questions in advance, and listen for what’s going unsaid. Get really specific, and ask a few leading questions that make negative presumptions about the sitter.  Ask "How often was she late for work?" rather than "Was she ever late for work?"

  • How long did [name] work for you? (Get specific dates of employment and make sure it matches her resume.) What were her hours?
  • What were her responsibilities during that time?  Did she do anything for the family beyond care for the children?
  • Why did she leave the job? (You want to make sure this matches directly with what the candidate has told you.)
  • How would you describe her?
  • What do you see as her strengths and weaknesses?
  • Can you tell me a little about your relationship with her?
  • How and when did you communicate about the children?
  • How much direction did you give her, and how much did she do independently?
  • Can you give me an example of how she would handle it when your child acted out?
  • How does she respond to feedback?  Can you give me an example of a time when you offered her feedback?
  • What advice do you have for us on how to manage her effectively?
  • What’s your assessment of her driving ability?
  • How often did she arrive late or need to miss work?
  • Did she request ever request advances on her wages?
  • Did you ever see any indications that she might have an alcohol or drug problem?
  • Do you have any other reservations about her ability to provide safe and reliable care to young children?
  • If you could change one thing about her or your relationship with her, what would it be?
  • Is there anyone else you think it would be helpful for me to talk to?