First Impressions: Finding the Right Babysitter for Your Kids

Last week, I got an email from a Rachel Thomas inquiring about guest posting.  I’m happy to help out other writers and bloggers, but often pass on guest posts from people I don’t know.  When I was perusing her previous work (she wisely included links in her email), I noticed that she is an alumna of Iowa State University, in Ames.  An Iowa girl myself (kind of), I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone who’s spent time among the cornfields.  The timing was good for a guest post, since I just moved and all.

Also, I checked out the site she writes for (, and it’s really interesting!  Did you know that in Japan, parents often hire foreign babysitters in the hopes that their children will pick up another language?  Or that in the 1940s, babysitting was promoted to teenagers as a patriotic duty?  In addition to interesting babysitting trivia, there are blog posts with craft ideas, educational tips, and even advice on how to clean tough stains.  The site has resources if you want to find a babysitter, or if you want to find a babysitting job.

Rachel has a lot of babysitting experience under her belt, and her post shares some tips on vetting potential babysitting candidates to find one that’s a fit for your family.  Enjoy!

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First impressions are how most employers judge whether or not a candidate is going to be a good fit within an organization. This is no different when you are choosing the right babysitter for your children. You want someone that can be entrusted with your kids and will have their best interests in mind in every decision. While we don’t live in a perfect world, we can try to make it as close as we can by making the correct decisions. What do you look for in the perfect candidate?

1.  Hairstyle – While we shouldn’t be judgmental of a person’s hairstyle, we can learn a lot about a person by the way he or she keeps themselves. For instance, a person with a single streak of bright-colored hair such as neon pink could be a fun individual to have around the home. In today’s world, dyed hair doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will party until they drop. However, a person with lanky, greasy and obviously unkempt hair may not be the wisest choice for a babysitter.

2.  Clothing – It’s not necessary to hire a person wearing an expensive suit and tie to babysit your children. In fact, it’s highly advisable not to wear anything nice as they may get just as messy as your children. Torn jeans could be OK depending on the area you live in. As this could be a fashion trend, you don’t want to disqualify someone who is keen on the times. He or she could enlighten your family as to what is “in.” However, you may want to reconsider a candidate if they show up in a leather mini skirt and matching vest or cut off shorts and a halter top.

3.  Presentation – How a candidate reacts to yourself and your children can be a strong indicator as to how the night might unfurl. Someone who is too introverted and barely speaks more than a few words may be hard to interview. However, someone who seems too excited to be in your home may make you feel like he’s casing the joint. There is such a thing as too many compliments of your home and your belongings.

4.  Situational Experience – During an interview with a potential babysitting candidate, ask them questions based on real circumstances that have happened within your home. This could put them on the spot and make them think. However, taking too long to answer a question could signify that he or she is trying to come up with a solution that you either want to hear or they seriously don’t know. The longer it takes for someone to answer the question, the more unlikely you should consider using the individual. You need someone that can think quickly to remedy a situation before it escalates. If you can order a pizza in the time span that it takes for this individual to devise an answer, it’s time to move on.

First impressions can make or break a career before it even starts. Your children are the most important aspect of your life, and you need to trust that the individual will protect them while you’re away. While this isn’t a fool proof way to eliminate or accept individuals, he or she should understand how important the first meeting is when applying for any job. For short or long term babysitting, you need to feel confident in the person who is watching your children. What kind of a first impression did your babysitter give you? If you need to find a new babysitter please visit

Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to @

5 thoughts on “First Impressions: Finding the Right Babysitter for Your Kids

  1. A friend of mine likes talking about the babysitter she had when she was little, a young man. She went to kindergarten until noon, in the afternoon he took care of her and a few other children. He was, according to her, the nicest babysitter you can imagine, and he was Punk, always meticulously styled. Kindergarten personnel needed some time to get used to the sight of him leaving with a bunch of kids.

    I don’t like to form an opinion on someone just upon first impressions. I know it’s often done that way – still, with employers it often seems like a game to me: they invent some rules, the future employee has to guess what the rules are, and if he can’t, that means he’s not suited to the job. I’m sure they miss a lot of interesting, able people that way. The above mentioned rules, hmm… Couldn’t someone be slow in talking, but quick in acting when he/she really is in a difficult situation? Or be inattentive to the state of his hair (yuck, I wouldn’t like that, either) and still be a nice person? The problem is, of course, you’d have to give it a try, and with babysitters, you don’t really want to experiment…

    I thought about how I used to find babysitters, and I realized: I never asked someone I didn’t know before. (= I knew them for a long time, not from one interview.) That, of course, is the best thing you can do. If I had to choose someone I didn’t know at all, I’ve no idea how to do that.

  2. Haha, I love the image of the punk kid picking up his young charge. Most babysitters I’ve used have been through word of mouth, or a child of a friend, etc. Recently, I did have a disappointing experience with a babysitter, so I suppose I will be screening more thoroughly (nothing dangerous per se, just not what I was expecting).

  3. Hi Rachel. I graduated from another school in Iowa ;) I appreciate these tips. My oldest child is 7 1/2 and I still wont use a baby-sitter unless she is a close friend of mine. I have only used teenagers to help if I am still in the house. I know, I have to let go eventually, so I am happy to have your post and website as resources.

  4. I would replace the first two suggestions with 1. Check References and 2. Criminal Background Check. Judging a potential sitter on bases of ‘hairstyle’ I find to be a little ‘out there’.

    Suggestions 3 and 4 do make more sense. Thanks for the guest post!

  5. The interview would be better occasion to review all these things. That is why it is been said that having at least two interviews is essential when hiring a babysitter. Preparing a question list, doing an analyzes on the babysitter etc help a lot to find out the BEST babysitter.

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