If you decide to have someone come into your home to take care of your child, your questions and the things you'll be looking for will have a different emphasis. After all, you already know the atmosphere of your own home. Yet of all the forms of child care, in-home care comes under the least scrutiny by others. You are assuming the role of an employer and must ask all the same things a center director, for instance, might ask prospective child care teachers. Your first step should be to write a job description. Think through your expectations, including specific hours and responsibilities. Make a list of the benefits you are offering, such as vacation time or sick days. Be very specific.
You will want to know about the person's work history, including reasons for any gaps in the last five years. Ask for the names of past employers so you can talk to them. You might want to ask basic questions over the telephone, and then arrange for an interview only with those applicants you feel you want to meet.
During the interview at your home, you'll have a chance to see how the caregiver and your child initially react to one another. Ask as many questions as you need to get a firm idea of the personality and qualifications of the person you're interviewing. When asking questions remember to pay attention to more than words. Does the person seem organized? Friendly? Relaxed? Does he or she seem to have thought about these issues before? Do you feel comfortable around him or her? Trust any instincts you might have, even if you can't explain why, as you decide whether or not to hire this person.
After the interview, if you have not yet checked up on past employers, call them and listen closely to their answers. Their tone of voice may tell you a great deal about their true feelings toward the applicant. You may also want to verify the ages of their children and dates the applicant worked for them to confirm what she has told you.
You may choose to pay for a background check on a candidate, for example, or to consult a tax or payroll service.
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