You've probably heard the old saying "time is money." That's true even for teenagers just looking for a babysitting job.
Should you pay a babysitter for an interview? No. There is no job industry where you're paid simply for coming to an interview. Most people accept going to interviews on their own time as part of getting a job. However, for babysitting there's one key exception.
I'm going to share some arguments why you might want to consider paying a babysitter just for coming for an interview, as well as some arguments against. I'll discuss some other topics, like whether you should pay for your babysitter's transportation or give them in a deposit in advance.
At the end I'll share the one situation that's an exception where I think you SHOULD pay your babysitter for an interview.
Arguments for Paying a Babysitter for an Interview
It Makes It Worth Their Time
Even if you just give your potential babysitter $5, that can be a big deal for a young teenager that doesn't have a job yet. It's a good incentive for them to come and talk with you. It lets them know you're serious, and it will make them take the process more seriously as well. It's also polite and shows that you value their time.
Babysitters Have to Pay to Travel to You
Younger babysitters might need to take the bus or get a cab over to your house to speak with you. That's a pretty big expense at the risk of potentially not getting the babysitting job. Even if they're a teen and can drive to your house, they still need to pay for gas and might not have much income.
They Could Be Doing Other Things
Some young teens are very ambitious and participating in all kinds of charity work, as well as after-school and extracurricular activities. It might be hard for them to find time in their schedule, or they might need to sacrifice time spent doing something they enjoy to come interview for a babysitting position with you.
Arguments Against Paying a Babysitter for an Interview
It's Not a Norm
I've never been to an interview where I was paid to attend. In fact, I'd probably think something was up if someone had to bribe me to come and interview to work for them. Paying for interviews or expecting payment for interviews just isn't a thing in any industry, whether you're a teenager or an adult.
Interviewing is just part of the job-seeking process. It's a risk that people accept. Adults often need to take time off from their existing jobs to interview for new positions.
You Can Interview Remotely
If transportation is an issue, you can interview your potential babysitter over the phone or via Skype. Nowadays it's even easy to share certifications, references, and other paperwork online.
They're Going to Get a Steady Income If They Get the Job
You're most likely only going to be interviewing a handful of potential babysitters at most, so their chance of getting to work for you is pretty good. And since most babysitting gigs are recurring, they can probably expect to earn money from babysitting every week or every few weeks. Even if they have to pay $5 for a return bus trip to speak with you, they might be earning hundreds of dollars through babysitting within the next few months.
Should You Pay for a Babysitter's Transportation?
In my opinion, no. Most babysitters will already have travel arrangements. Most likely a parent or older sibling will drop them off and pick them up from your house.
I might offer to drive my babysitter home if they had no other way to get home and their house was a good distance away from mine.
However, I wouldn't pay for an Uber or taxi to get them home. One reason is because of liability. Your babysitter is most likely still a minor themselves, and you have no control over what happens once they get into someone else's vehicle. The other reason is because of cost. Paying for their trip home could be the same as two hours worth of babysitting or more!
If my babysitter had their own vehicle I might consider chipping in to help pay for gas if they make a long trip to my house (more than a 15 minute drive.) But I wouldn't say this is necessary or expected.
Should You Prepay a Babysitter or Give Them a Deposit?
I don't see any reason to prepay a babysitter. Let's face it... if you don't pay, they already know where you live. So what do they really have to lose?
It's way more likely that they'll end up flaking and not showing up when you need them. If you've already paid them, what's the incentive for them to show up? And good luck ever getting that money back if they end up never babysitting for you.
It's best to pay your babysitter in full once their time is completed. Not earlier, and not later.
I'd maybe make an exception for a full-time nanny and place some kind of down-payment or deposit. Especially if they come with recommendations or work for a reputable agency or company.
How Much Should You Pay Your Babysitter?
In the United States, the national average pay for a babysitter is $13.44. But that number can vary widely.
How much you pay your babysitter will depend on a lot of factors like:
- What city you live in
- The babysitter's age and years of experience
- How many children they'll be watching
- How many hours per week you need them to babysit
For a new babysitter with only 1-2 years of experience to watch 1 child, I'd pay a little above minimum wage.
I'd add at least $1 per hour for each additional child they'll be watching, and for every couple of years of experience.
If your child has special needs then you can also expect to pay more. See our guide: How to find a babysitter for an autistic child for more information.
See our Complete guide to babysitter pay to learn what the best pay rate will be in your situation.
The One Time I Think You Should Pay Your Babysitter for an Interview
There's one exception where I think you definitely should pay your babysitter for an interview. That's if you do an on-the-job interview.
That's when your babysitter is basically doing a trial visit. They babysit the kids for a few hours while you're still in the house, just in case they run into any trouble and need help.
This is a great way to get a feel for your babysitter, as well as see how they interact with your children first-hand. You'll know if they're actively playing with your children and you're getting your money's worth, or if they're just sitting on their phone while the kids watch television.
Since your babysitter will basically be doing the full job, just on a trial basis, I think it's definitely worth paying them for this kind of test.
See our complete guide: How to interview a babysitter for essential tips and our trusted techniques to help you find the perfect sitter.
Should you pay for your babysitter's food?
If your babysitter will be watching your children over dinner time, it's courtesy to provide them with something to eat, chip in for some pizza or take-out, or at least leave them with some snacks. For more details about providing food for your babysitter, check out our article: Do You Provide Dinner for Your Babysitter?
Do you still have to pay a babysitter if you cancel?
I think it depends on how much notice you give them. For less than 24 hours notice, I'd definitely pay the full amount for the hours you originally needed them. If you're canceling with one or two days of notice I'd recommend paying them at least half, because they may have needed to cancel existing plans to make babysitting work in the first place. If you cancel a week early or more, I don't think there's really an obligation to pay them at all.
Do you need to pay your babysitter for holidays, vacation, or sick days?
For a part-time babysitter that you're only using for a few hours per week, this isn't necessary. Think of them like independent contractors. However, if you have a full-time babysitter or nanny that watch your child every day, they're basically employees and I'd treat them as such. Including giving them some holiday pay, and potentially needing to collect money for taxes, social security, and other standard costs that would show up on a paystub.
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The Perfect Gift For Your Babysitter
My book, Babysitting Business Secrets, is out now as an inexpensive ebook or full-color paperback. If your babysitter is serious about becoming the best sitter they can be, then this book is perfect for them. I reveal all my tricks and tips for first-time babysitters or experienced sitters who just want to up their game. Get your copy today!
- Matthew Taylor, Kidsit Founder