Monday, May 16, 2011

Questions to ask your new babysitter...

I'm sure I mentioned that my sister won't be babysitting for Caitlyn anymore starting in June. I haven't had a ton of time to think about it with everything that's been going on- vacation, then Caitlyn's birthday, then plagues, but I did manage to do some research and find someone I'm interested in. We met last week and it was awkward. That isn't to say I didn't like her, actually, I really did. But it's such a strange thing to be in someone's home asking them nosey questions.

When I was a manager in a clothing store, I did hiring all the time. There was a very specific protocol, with certain questions I always asked. There was also always the very obvious list of questions you don't ask. Things about people's age and religious beliefs and families. Those are all very, very off-limits in a real interview. And the questions I had to ask, well, let's just say it made it very easy to weed out the people I didn't want working at my store. I'll give you a few examples:

Q: Why did you leave your last job?
Possible appropriate answers:

  1. I'm looking for better opportunities (even though we all know that's code for "I hated my last job", at least you are trying to make it sound like you didn't).

  2. I left for school and now I'm looking for another summer job (it was retail, so we had lots of kids who did this).

Inappropriate answers I actually received from applicants:

  1. My boss was a racist (translation: you sat around doing nothing all the time and when they fired you because you were LAZY, you said "It's because I'm black, right?").

  2. They fired me because I had a family emergency and didn't show up or call for 3 days and they said that was "job abandonment" (me: why didn't you call? them: I didn't have a phone and I was in another state and they didn't have a phone there. me: yeah, no phones, that sounds totally legit. I'm 1000% sure you didn't go to the beach when you were supposed to be at work).

  3. The manager hated me even though I worked really hard. I had a problem with this girl who worked there and she was friends with the manager so the manager fired me cause her friend didn't like me.

  4. I was seasonal (Really? What season runs from February to March, exactly? And it looks like you had 4 other jobs that also all lasted a month or so, and you say you left all of those because you were "seasonal" too.).

Q: Tell me what your idea of good customer service is.

Inappropriate answers:

  1. Uhhhh.... ummm. I don't... well. When you say "customer service"... could you repeat the question (I HAAAAAAATED the "can you repeat the question" motherfuckers. It was always on a simple question. They would just "uhhh" and "ummm" for 5 minutes till I was ready to blow my fucking brains out).

  2. The customer is always right? (This is always a question and never a statement. This is the equivalent of saying "this is what you wanted to hear, right?" And so I'd always follow it up with "give me a specific example" and then their heads would explode).

  3. Well you know, sometimes the customer wants you to help them but you have do other stuff and they have to understand that (You failed buddy. You definitely just failed.).

Besides the questions though, there were other things I always looked for and I could tell almost immediately if I would hire someone or not. My company was very customer service focused and they fully expected you to go up to every single customer and say hello and offer them help, so if an applicant seemed shy and barely looked at me, or snotty and didn't smile, I politely conducted a 5 minute interview and sent them on their way because I already knew they weren't right for my store. Some other immediate tip-offs that I wasn't going to hire you? (I swear- seriously all this shit really happened).

  1. If you came in with a group of your friends and all wanted to apply at once. I never, ever, ever hired people in groups. I don't need you and your stupid, slacker friends dicking around for your entire shift. I got shit to do.

  2. If you came in with your mom. More specifically, if your mom wasted 20 minutes of my time explaining to me how her little boy needed a job (this only ever happened with boys) and how I should hire him. Something always told me that your mom would also be the one calling out for you when you wanted to hang out with your friends instead of coming to work.

  3. If you couldn't figure out how to do the online application. I get it that not everyone is tech savvy, but if you called me more than once so I could hold your hand through the application process, I immediately put a retard check next to your name in my head.

  4. I had a guy who came in for his interview and the person he asked to find me happened to be standing next to another manager. He didn't know that and when the other manager tried to introduce himself and shake the guy's hand, he refused to acknowledge him and wouldn't even say hello until I came up there. Did I mention the other manager was actually MY boss?

  5. I had a few interviews scheduled right in a row and I was halfway through one when the next applicant showed up in my backroom a few minutes early. I assumed one of the other employees brought him back, asked if he was my 11:30 interview and told him I'd be with him shortly. When I got to interviewing him and started asking about his job history, he said "oh, that's not me". He had just showed up and came into the back room expecting me to interview him. My actual interview had been sitting outside, waiting patiently for my first interview to be over.

  6. There was a guy who spent the majority of the interview complaining about the air quality in my office and asking if the ventilation system was working properly. Then he answered his phone mid-interview. Yeah. He didn't get the job.

Anyway. My point is that it was easy to know if someone wasn't what I was looking for. And the stakes weren't exactly high. Sure it was annoying to put the time and effort into training someone who didn't work out, but it's not like I was risking my kid's life or anything. So now, here I am, back to square one. Interviewing the new babysitter. It went a little something like this:

Me: Ummm, so you aren't a serial killer, right?

Babysitter: No, I'm not a serial killer.

Me: I see you and your son are of mixed racial descent. My family too! It's a good thing, cause now I know you aren't racist. White people like to say racist shit to me and they think it's ok cause I'm white so I must be racist too.

B: ... Yeah. I guess you can't just flat out ask people "are you a racist".

Me: Yeah. People would probably lie about that. So... yeah... I don't know what else to ask you.

B: makes an effort to play with my daughter and show me stuff around her house because clearly I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing

Me: Your house is clean, but not like, museum clean. I think museum clean people are scary. I'm glad you aren't putting on a show for me (which really probably came off like I was saying her house WASN'T really that clean).

B: Yeah, you wanna see my son's room?

Me: Oh yeah, that's nice. A crib and stuff. And you say you have a pack-n-play too? That's good.

B: Does your daughter have any special needs or food allergies or anything?

Me: No.

B: That's good. My son has food allergies. He can't eat wheat or dairy or eggs.

Me: Wow, that sounds like a pain in the ass.

B: Yeah. We hope he grows out of it.

Me: So, I like you. I have to talk to my husband though. He won't say anything till we leave.

B: Ok. Well I hope he likes me too!

Me: I think he does or he would be rushing me out of here. Rodolfo, do you have any questions you want to ask?

Rodolfo: I see you have a PS3. Do you live with a guy?

B: Yes, my son's father lives here too, but he works 2 jobs and he is hardly ever here. He will be off the Thursday and Friday of Memorial Day weekend. If you would like to meet him, we can make plans one of those days. Maybe we can take the kids to the zoo.

Me: Yes! All good ideas. So, I like you and I want you to be my babysitter.

B: Great!

So yeah, clearly I'm not blessed with an abundance of social graces. We did talk through email a few times, so it's not like some of the normal people questions weren't already out of the way. But it was just so strange, sitting in a stranger's home, hoping my daughter would be safe there. It felt safe and comfortable, and Caitlyn seemed to be immediately comfortable there. And I like the woman. She's around my age and normal. I can't explain it a better way than that. I didn't feel like I was meeting her "on my best behavior" self. I felt like she was relaxed because she knows she isn't a total weirdo and she doesn't have to edit herself on the regular. I wonder what that's like. Because I was definitely editting. In fact, I didn't say fuck even once. It was hard.

So we are going to give her a try. But it feels so wrong, barely knowing this person and just the idea of dropping my daughter at her home and leaving her there and not really knowing how it's all going to go. My sister and I have had enough drama for a lifetime, but at least I always knew what to expect, even if it was annoying. So. Yeah. That's all I've got.


Mother Knows Best Reviews said...

I laughed my balls off through this entire post. I am glad you found a non-serial killer. That is good news.

I can't wait to hear how Caitlyn likes things!