Hiring a babysitter or a nanny? Asking the right questions now helps you clarify your expectations ahead of time... and saves you headaches down the road.

When you hire someone to watch your child, you not only want the very best fit for your family but someone who genuinely cares about your kid. How can you really tell whether someone is the perfect nanny or is just really good at interviewing? Asking the right questions can make all the difference.

Top 10 questions to ask

Erin Krex, owner and founder of Chicago-based, First Class Care, Inc., has compiled a list of her favorite questions for us.

  1. Tell me a little about yourself.

    This is open-ended and gives you insight into what is important to the candidate.

  2. Why do you want to be a nanny?

    Michelle LaRowe, editor in chief of eNannySource.com says that this is probably the most important question that parents aren't asking. "Parents should have a clear understanding of a caregiver's motivation to work with children in the private home environment," she shares.

  3. Why do you think your experience or background would make you a good nanny?

    This is the perfect way to find out if she has children of her own, and how much experience she has had working with children.

  4. What is your favorite child age to work with?

    This question helps you determine if she is a good fit for the ages of your children. Someone who prefers newborns, for example, may be unengaged with your second grader.

  5. Why did your last position end?

    Ingrid Kellaghan, child-development expert and founder of Cambridge Nanny Group takes this question a step further, by asking, "Tell me about a time when you and your employer had a disagreement or argument. What happened and how did you handle it?" This helps you determine if she is a good problem solver and is respectful to her employer.

  6. What is your ideal work situation?

  7. How would the previous kids you cared for describe you?

    This is a great way to see how she thinks kids in her care perceive her.

  8. What type of activities would you suggest for children the ages of mine?

    Kellaghan would turn this question around and ask, "Tell me about an activity you did with a 5-year-old boy."

  9. What duties are you not willing to do?

    It may be helpful to have a short list of duties you would expect her to do: light housework or meal preparation for example.

  10. Where do you see yourself in 2 years?

    This helps you gauge whether or not this position is short-term in her mind.

What is off-limits?

LaRowe shares ideas on how to get answers to sensitive questions without breaking the law. "When it comes to asking interview questions, parents must be cautious not to violate federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws," she says. "While federal equal opportunity laws may not apply to a family's specific hiring situation, it's always safe to follow them."

LaRowe says that the way a parent frames a question can open the door to a conversation in which the candidate may volunteer additional information about herself. For example, instead of asking, "Do you have children?" ask "Can you work late on short notice?" "Can you travel?" or "Do you have experience with newborns?" Instead of asking, "Where were you born?" ask "Are you legally able to accept employment in the U.S.?"

Your child's caretaker will be an important part of the family. Spend some time up front making sure you choose the right person for the job.

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