Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.
It is essential that the person you put in charge of your child is capable and experienced. They need to be a great fit for your family, and have a great personality too!
A good babysitter can make life much easier for you as well as a fun experience for your children. A bad babysitter, however can sometimes be more trouble than they're worth!
Finding the right babysitter can be hard. That's why you need a list of interview questions to test your sitter and make sure they will measure up to your expectations.
Once you've got a shortlist of applications from potential babysitters, you'll want to meet with them in person. Here are some questions you'll want to consider asking to get a feel for them as a person.
It's good to ask your babysitter as many questions as you can think of. Some things that might seem obvious or expected to you could be unusual for a babysitter. The more things you talk about upfront, the less chance there is of any misunderstandings later on.
There's an old saying when it comes to negotiating that "the first person to say a number loses."
It's best to let your babysitter tell you how much they want to earn before you throw a number out. You might be willing to pay them $12 per hour, but they might be perfectly willing to do it for $10.
Just make sure you're taking other factors into account like your babysitter's age and experience. The cheapest option isn't necessarily the best.
Refer to our complete guide to babysitter pay for help deciding on an appropriate pay rate for your situation.
This answer doesn't matter so much, as long as it's not something superficial like "the money." You'll mostly use this question to get an idea if they have experience with children.
You will probably get some pretty standard answers here, like easy-going families with well-behaved children. You might also get some answers about things they don't like as well.
You won't want to abuse this regularly, but ideally, your babysitter will be flexible and not be super resentful if you need them to stay a couple of hours later. Life is full of unexpected situations that might come up.
In other words, if we call will you actually be able to show up?
It seems like if you asked this kind of question to a criminal or someone with something big to hide, they would just lie. But that isn't always the case! I've actually heard of one group interview where the interviewer asked everyone this question and one of the candidates just flat-out admitted to doing cocaine before the interview!
Discipline is a very important subject as it is essential that you and your babysitter are on the same page when handling challenging behaviors from your children.
You really want continuity of care while you are out, so I would advise spending a lot of time discussing your family’s current discipline process and ensuring that the babysitter is on board with what you are already doing. They may even have some ideas that you haven’t heard of before and want to implement them yourself!
You'll need a babysitter whose schedule lines up with yours.
Ideally, you want a babysitter who is confident caring for kids of any age. So a flexible answer is best here, but you at least want them to include your own children’s ages.
A good babysitter should be able to adapt to all different ages, personalities, needs, and skill levels.
You want to make sure your babysitter is serious and committed because there's no point going through this whole interview process again next month if you can avoid it.
This is kind of like the dreaded "what's your worst quality?" interview question that you've probably got before and had to answer with some corny answer about how you're too much of a perfectionist.
But you might get an honest answer here that could give you some valuable insight.
Basically anything besides "the kids" or "it's a lot of work" is probably fine. Even if a babysitter's answer was changing diapers, I'd probably be fine with that, because at least it's honest. It's my least favorite part of the job too!
All of the questions in this section have pretty straightforward answers, so I won't elaborate on each one individually. You're just trying to get a good idea of your babysitter's experience and history.
This is more of a get-to-know-you kind of question than anything else, but bonus points for an answer involving education, childcare, etc.
This probably already came up when discussing availability if they've got one, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
If you've got one that matches their allergy, the interview might be over at this point. Unless they want to take an antihistamine every time they come over.
You definitely don't want them smoking in the house or around your children.
If they need a smoke break during their shift and need to step outside for a few minutes, are they going to bring your children out with them, or just leave them unattended?
Even if they only smoke a cigarette or two per day and won't need to smoke while they're at your house, the smell of smoke could still transfer from their clothes into your furniture and might not be worth the hassle.
Especially important if you have more exotic things like snakes or tarantulas. But they should be okay with dogs too because they'll probably need to let them outside if you're gone for more than a few hours.
Another part of their availability and making sure there are no scheduling conflicts.
Basic First Aid and CPR are a must! This is the person that will be looking after your precious children in your absence, so you want the peace of mind of knowing that they can handle an emergency situation.
It happens more often than you'd think, especially with younger children. If your child is choking, they only have a couple minutes before they pass out. So you need a babysitter that won't panic and knows the first aid action plan for choking. They would have covered this in their first aid course, but it is a good topic to bring up to refresh their memory.
In case something happens that's not so bad that they need to call 911, but still bad enough that they should go to the emergency room.
This one is important if you have a pool.
I really like behavior-based interview questions because they tend to focus more on getting your babysitter to come up with a specific real-life example of something, as opposed to answering hypothetical "what if" questions.
Here you're looking for proof that they can keep cool and hold things together while under pressure.
This one shows they've spent a significant amount of time around kids and have made a difference. It might be something like a baby's first word, learning to crawl or walk, a child making a drawing for them, etc.
Multitasking is an important skill to have as a babysitter. The more kids they'll be watching, the more important it is.
They need an effective way to prioritize for those times where one child is throwing a tantrum, the other is trying to shove markers in your dog's ear, and the phone is ringing... all at the same time.
Your babysitter should be engaging with your children and have plenty of suggestions for games and craft activities that they could do together.
If your babysitter has trouble coming up with answers to this question, they might be the type that will just sit on the couch and watch TV with your child for 3 hours, every single time.
Both of these give real examples of how your babysitter would discipline your child.
There's a balance you're looking for here. A babysitter shouldn't be interrupting you with basic questions multiple times while you're out, but you don't want them to be too nervous to call for something serious either.
It doesn't matter who it is. They just need some type of support structure they can reach out to for help and advice. Whether that's their mom or another family member, a friend, or maybe they look through your phone book to find someone.
Similar to the question about prioritizing and multitasking.
Having a stressful situation is okay and it happens. You want to know what actions they took to fix the situation, and what the end result was.
You're not expecting them to be able to fix a burst pipe with a shoelace and a piece of chewing gum. But they should have an example that shows they have some common sense and can think on their feet.
Anything that shows they're willing to take that extra step. Staying late, taking a child to the mall to see Santa, tutoring, etc.
If they're anything like me, it probably involves taking away TV or candy.
Anything that shows a willingness to take the initiative or do what they think is right, even without clear guidance. This might be hard for a babysitter without much experience to come up with.
You need a babysitter that can keep their cool under pressure.
You could get a huge range of responses here. Kind, positive, loyal, friendly, honest, practical, or mature are good ones.
Words like "fun" might be a sign that they have trouble being serious when needed.
Most children only need a bath once or twice a week anyway, so it's not a huge deal if the answer is no. But it would be nice to have it all done for you if the babysitter is going to be there on bath night and they're willing to help out.
If you don't feel comfortable having the babysitter give your child a bath, then you can just skip this question.
The more engaging of activities that your babysitter is willing to do with your child the better. Plus it shows a lot of confidence that they're willing to go out in public with your child and not worry about losing them.
You likely already asked about discipline in general, but here is a chance to get some real examples of what they'd do.
You'll probably get pretty generic answers here like being friendly, nice, fun, or goofy.
If they take a while to think of an answer, they might be making one up. Which could be a bad sign and mean kids they've babysat before haven't liked them!
See our complete list of essential babysitter qualities that you should be looking for during your hiring process.
Now you should have a great idea of what questions you should ask your babysitter. But we also need to discuss some questions that you absolutely can't ask.
It's unlikely that a babysitter would ever try and sue you for discrimination, but it's still best to avoid some illegal interview questions.
To keep it simple, don't ask questions about:
Note: Laws vary about what you can and can't ask during a job interview depending on where you live, so check your local labor department's website for more information.
When conducting an interview it's always best to be well prepared.
Download our checklist with the top 20 questions to ask a babysitter so you don't miss anything important. It's also good to use the same questions across multiple candidates so they're easier to compare afterwards.
Also, see our complete guide: How to interview a babysitter for other essential tips and trusted techniques to use during the interview process.
You might want to ask if they're ok caring for more children if your kids have friends over. As well as whether they're willing to help with homework, light housework, or making dinner.
The obvious one is to ask your potential babysitter if they're comfortable watching infants and if they have any experience with it. If they pass that question, you'll want to cover the basics like whether they know how to change a diaper, prepare baby formula, etc. You could also ask if they know infant CPR.
Yes. If your babysitter has their license, you might want to ask if they're comfortable driving with children in the car, whether they know how to install a car seat, how many years of driving experience they have, and if they've been in any accidents or received any tickets.
When calling the babysitting references that each candidate provides, you want to find out as much as possible about their previous work as a babysitter. Ask questions about their work performance, their personality, communication style, and how well they fit in with the previous family.
See our top 20 questions to ask babysitter references and download our handy checklist to work through while on the phone.
Written & Illustrated by:
Kidsit Founder, Editor, Illustrator, and father of three beautiful kids in Sydney, Australia.
Reviewed & Edited by:
Renee is a children’s author and freelance writer from the Sunshine Coast, Australia. She has 20 years of combined experience working with children as a babysitter, swim coach, special education teacher and an after-hours care supervisor.
Updated: 11 January 2020
First Published: 2 February 2019
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