07 Aug Triple Checked: A Look at Our Reference Check Process
Not sure about you but as parents we are not fond of doing Sisyphus-like things like calling and checking (and calling and checking) the references of potential babysitters, only to have those sitters flake on us or move away within weeks. Seriously, our founder Lauren disliked it so much she created an app and sitter service to solve this problem in her own life! (She is a millennial, so that explains it!).
If you had to find a babysitter pre-June 2016, you’re familiar with this old, painful way of vetting childcare. It was tedious times, for sure.
Fortunately, Hello Sitter arrived last summer and put those dark ages of finding quality childcare to rest. No longer must already-busy parents spend time vetting sitters – and then get stuck in a game of text-and-response to actually nail down a sitter for date night! It’s all done for you, by us. (And we don’t even charge a registration fee or require monthly membership contracts!)
It’s a great time to be alive in NYC and the Hamptons, isn’t it?!
Hello Sitter’s Reference Check Process
It’s true, we really do speak to – not text or email with – three references for each sitter. In 99% of cases, these references are parents who’ve hired the sitter to watch their kids. All of our sitters have at least three years of experience so they generally have ample references who can speak to their childcare abilities.
Connor S. is one of our sitter experts and the primary reference checker at Hello Sitter (he’s a former sitter himself). He is awesome and super dedicated (we love you, Connor!). Connor arranges all reference interviews over text, so the parents can specify when they have time to chat. Then it’s to the phones!
He first asks generally about how the parents know the sitter and the work the sitter has done for them (i.e. nanny, regular sitter, occasional date night care). Once he has a general idea about the extent of the sitter’s work, Connor asks for more specifics like whether the parents were present in the home or if the sitter had full responsibility, when the sitter worked for them (day or night), and if there were any challenging situations for the sitter (i.e. difficult child, medical emergency) and how the sitter reacted. Connor verifies for how long and how frequently the family used the sitter, as well as the ages of the children.
Some of the other questions Connor asks (as 95% of our applicants are female, we’re using the female pronoun here):
How well would you say you know her?
She describes her sitter style as (eg: active, disciplined, patient, understanding, confident, adaptable). Would you say that’s accurate? Can you give an example?
What kinds of activities did she do with your child?
Do your kids like her?
Does she still babysit for you?
Did she ever take your kids out in the city, or on the subway?
Would you use her again? If a friend asked for a sitter contact, would you recommend her?
Then it’s time for an eye-opener: he asks references how they would describe the sitter to another parent. We’re looking for responses along the lines of “Bridget is extremely responsible, always on time, and so reliable. We would recommend her to any family.” If a parent mentions any issues at all, even casually in passing like “she let the kids watch some TV but we really liked her so we let it slide,” those are noted and evaluated after the call. Since we only want the best, if a parent brings up anything negative – well, she is not right for Hello Sitter.
With three thorough reference checks for each sitter, Connor is able to get a strong feel for a sitter’s character and abilities and if she’s Hello Sitter material. He discusses each sitter and references with Lauren. After a complete review of the sitter, they make the decision to start running the legal background checks (or not). These parent interviews are just a single step in the Hello Sitter vetting process. But they’re one of the biggest factors in our decision to add a sitter to the service.
Hello Sitter’s Reference Checks Make It Easy
Here at Hello Sitter, we get that booking a sitter through an app is definitely a new way of finding childcare. Lauren created the service in part because the old process of finding a sitter – getting a name, running background checks, verifying references – was super frustrating for her as a mom looking for quality childcare. But she didn’t do away with that essential vetting. She just centralized it in a service, and made it available to all NYC and Hamptons parents. Yes, we love her too!