What are your needs? Do you need an afternoon sitter, to care for the children when they've gotten out of school until you're off of work? A high school student may be the best option for your family. Do you need a more experienced sitter? Someone that can help your children with their homework? Perhaps a college student will work best with your family. Do you want a sitter that will act as a mother (or grandmother) figure for your children? A older, mature sitter can fill that need.
Once you've determined the the type of sitter your looking for, how do you find her (or him)? You can get referrals from family, friends, or neighbors. You can talk to your child's school to see if they can recommend a sitter, or you can check with your local American Red Cross to see if they have a list of graduates from their Babysitter's Training classes. You can also find local sitters through care.com, which gives families everywhere solutions to their care needs.
You've found a sitter. Now what? Schedule an interview to determine if they will be a good fit with your family. Ask basic questions, such as name, age, phone number, address, and citizen status. What is their availability and what are their rates? Use this tool to determine the average rate in your area.
Ask some conversational questions to determine their experience with children. What age ranges do they have experience with, and are they most comfortable with? What activities do they like to do with the children? Do they enjoy short outings, such as going to the park? How do they comfort and discipline? Go here for a complete list of things you should ask a potential babysitter before deciding to hire them to watch your children.
You've found a great fit, and you've hired a sitter that you're comfortable with. Be sure to continually evaluate this relationship, because your family's needs may change as your child grows older. Communicate with your sitter and be sure that you're both on the same page. Continued evaluation and open communication will benefit everyone.