You’ve found the perfect caregiver on Sittercity! She nailed her interview, passed her background check, and you’re ready to give her the job. Wait, pump the brakes! Before you tell your caregiver she’s hired, you’ll want to check her references.

References can play huge part in finding the right caregiver. They will give you additional insight about your candidate as well as a look into her past job performance.

Caregivers should have at least two references who have already agreed to serve as such in the hiring process. First-timers may use a parent or teacher since they haven’t yet had a chance to establish a relationship with an employer.

Either way, your potential caregiver should provide you with both the phone number and email address of references so you can contact them easily.

Once you have the reference’s contact information, follow these tips to reach out to them and get their input on what their experience with this caregiver was like.

1. Get the ball rolling by introducing yourself

It’s normal to feel a little awkward calling a reference, but keep in mind this person has, in most cases, agreed to be contacted by you.

Introduce yourself and tell the reference why you’re calling and don’t forget to say that the babysitter or nanny referred you.

“Hi, this is [your name] I’m calling because [potential caregiver’s name] listed you as a reference, and I was wondering if now was a good time to ask you a few questions about her personality and performance.”

In rare cases, the reference might not be comfortable speaking to you or did not agree to be a reference. This is probably not a good sign. If you think there was some sort of misunderstanding or confusion, you can speak with your potential caregiver about this, and ask for another reference. Otherwise, remove her from the potential caregivers pile.

2. Move onto the questions

Now that you’ve made your introduction, it’s time to get to the questions!

Here’s a typical list of questions that you can ask to help gauge your potential caregiver’s experience and talents.

  • How well do you know [potential caregiver’s name]?
  • In what capacity did she work for you?
  • How long did she work for you?
  • How would you describe her?
  • What are her best qualities?
  • How did your kids like her?
  • Was she always excited to see your kids?
  • Is she flexible? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Is she mature? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Is she timely? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Is she energetic? (Consider getting a rating on a 1-5 scale for this question.)
  • Did she ever have to deal with an emergency? How did she react?
  • Did she drive your kids, do an overnight job for you or sit for a newborn?
  • How well did she follow direction?
  • Did she clean up after herself on the job?
  • What areas could she improve in?
  • Why did you stop working together?
  • Would you hire her again?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?
  • Can I contact you again if I have any more questions?

3. Do a gut check with the reference themselves

When doing a phone reference check, you don’t have a lot to go by other than the person’s voice and assurance on the phone. So, ask yourself a few questions afterwards:

  • Did the reference sound nervous?
  • Did they answer right away to their name?
  • Is anything not quite right? Do you have any reason to distrust the reference?

Since everyone has different experiences with a caregiver, we encourage you to check at least two references. It’s best to have a well-rounded picture of your sitter or nanny based on how they have acted in different situations, with different children and with different families.

Good luck!