How to Check a Nanny or Babysitter’s References

It's important to find out as much as possible about the person you're looking to hire. Here's how to handle checking a babysitter's references.

When hiring a caregiver, it’s important to find out as much about the person as possible to help you make the right choice. One of the best ways to learn more about an applicant is through personal reference checks.

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When checking a nanny or babysitter‘s references, you should ask for the names of five people, three of which should be care-related references. The other names can be of a friend, teacher, or an employer from a non-care job.

Through reference checks, you can truly get to know your applicant. They help verify that the applicant is who she says she is, has the experience and qualifications necessary, and most importantly, is someone you can trust and will be a good fit with your family.

To make the most of your conversation, prepare your questions ahead of time and focus on topics that will help you decide if she’s a good fit. Here’s a list of questions and topics you should cover:

Employment background & personality

Use reference checks as a way to confirm information on an applicant’s resume.

  • What were the starting and ending dates she worked for you and what were her responsibilities?
  • What are her strengths and what are her weaknesses? If you did a review, what areas was she working on? What were your agreed goals for her?
  • What were the circumstances of the applicant’s departure? If there are two sides to the story and you feel like there’s a red flag, probe the issue further.
  • Would you hire her again?
  • Ask the referee to describe the candidate’s personality and temperament. On a scale of one to 10, ask the referee to rate the candidate’s maturity, initiative, responsibility, and ability to communicate.

Family management

Asking questions about each referee’s experience with the applicant can help you decide if she’s a good fit for your family.

  • How did you supervise her and what kind of style worked with her? Did she like to get regular feedback on her work?
  • How does she handle feedback? Is the candidate open and approachable? Give an example of when you asked her to do something differently. How did it go?
  • Did the candidate feel comfortable bringing an issue up with you? Give an example and explain how you worked through it.
  • Is there anything I need to know that would help me to manage her work with my family?
  • Can you give me an example of when your caregiver had to manage a challenging situation? What was the situation and how did she handle it?


  • Did you ever suspect that the caregiver had a drug or alcohol problem?
  • Did you notice anything – personal or professional – that interfered with her ability to do her job? Was there any specific safety-related feedback you needed to give the candidate?
  • Did she come to work on time? If she was ever late, what do you think the reason was?
  • Did she ever let friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend come to the house without your permission?
  • How did she respond to emergencies? What happened and how did she handle it?

Now that you’ve talked to all of the five referees, take some time to reflect on your conversations and evaluate them. If all five references aren’t glowing, ask follow-up questions to clarify anything negative that surfaces. Overall, your reference checks should make you feel confident about your candidate. Use your best judgment and trust your instinct.

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