How To Interview A Babysitter
(Essential Tips & Trusted Techniques)
Finding the right babysitter can be a lot of work. If you're doing your due diligence, you will be busy checking referencing, going through at least one interview, and possibly even doing a trial run.
Here are some tips to make sure the interview process goes as smoothly as possible and a general guide on how the process should work.
Types of Babysitter Interviews
There are really two main ways that you can interview a potential babysitter - remotely, or face-to-face.
Via Skype or Telephone
Having a first interview using Skype or telephone is a good way to get acquainted with your potential babysitter. If you have many candidates, it can be a more efficient way to shortlist those that you feel are most qualified.
It's not recommended to hire a babysitter solely because of an interview over telephone or Skype though. You'll still want to have a second interview to meet at least one candidate face to face before you offer them the job. Ideally, you'll want to see how the babysitter interacts with your children in person as well.
When scheduling your telephone or Skype interview, be sure to get someone else to watch your children and any noisy pets. You don't want any distractions or loud background noise while you're interviewing possible babysitters, as it won't give a great first impression.
A phone interview allows you to get all the basic must-have questions out of the way that might immediately disqualify someone like: Availability (evenings, weekends, short notice, after school).
- Experience (years and age ranges).
- References and how to contact them.
- Permission to request a background check.
Face To Face
This is the most common way to interview babysitters, and every parent should meet their babysitter in person before deciding to leave them alone with your child.
You can pick up a lot more subtle details by meeting someone in person such as their demeanor, hygiene, how they dress, and so on.
Where Should You Conduct Your Interview?
It's quite common to conduct your babysitter interviews within your home. But if you don't feel comfortable opening up your doors to strangers before completely vetting them, you might wish to meet them in a more neutral location like a coffee shop, or other public space.
Try to pick somewhere that will be convenient for both you and the babysitter.
If you don't interview your babysitter at home, be aware that you'll need to set some extra time aside on their first day to give them a tour of the house layout and show them how to use your appliances.
Some babysitters may prefer to watch your children at their own home. In that case, you'll definitely want to visit their home in person beforehand.
Before The Interview
By now you should have looked over your potential babysitter's resumes, possibly had a quick phone interview with each, and narrowed down to just a few of your favorites. Now it's time to meet them in person to decide which is the best. First, you'll need to prepare.
Let Your Candidate Know What To Bring
Ask each candidate to bring basic things you'll need, like:
- A driver's license or another type of photo ID.
- First Aid and CPR certification documents.
- A copy of their resume and references.
It's also good to let them know approximately how long the interview should take (30 minutes – 1 hour, depending on how many questions you're asking.)
Be Sure To Plan Ahead
If you have a phone interview with the candidates, you should ask your finalists to schedule a time that's convenient for them to meet in person. If you haven't had a phone interview, it's still usually most convenient to call and arrange a meeting rather than try to do it over email.
If you're meeting your babysitter at a coffee shop or other public place, you can bring your children along. But then you'll need to find a time that works for them as well. Often it's easier to meet your babysitter one-on-one without having to keep track of your children as well.
Limit your interviews per day. You'll probably only want to interview 2 or 3 candidates per day. That way you'll have enough energy to give everyone equal attention, and you're less likely to get them confused. Plus as a parent, you're probably too busy to devote more than a couple hours in one day to interviewing anyway.
Give yourself a buffer. When you schedule your interviews, give yourself extra time. For example, if you plan on your interview only lasting 30 minutes, schedule your interviews at least an hour apart. It will give you a bit of extra time if one candidate has lots of questions, someone is late, or you just need a break between interviews.
Bring everything you need. It might be best to make yourself a checklist that you can check before your interviews to make sure you're not forgetting anything.
Bring a pen and some paper or a notebook to take notes about each candidate, as well as a copy of their resume. You can also print off a list of interview questions that you want to ask, just in case your mind blanks during the interview.
If you have a tablet or mobile device, you can store all of your candidate's information so that you aren't having to carry around a lot of paper.
Tips To Remember Before Your Interview
As the person conducting an interview, a lot of the tips are the same you'd give someone who is going to an interview. You want to present a positive image to your potential babysitter as much as they are undoubtedly going to try to please you as well.
Be on time. If you're meeting somewhere, it's important for you to be there a few minutes before the interview is scheduled. If you arrive late, your babysitter might not hang around until you get there, and you might miss out on a great candidate. If you expect them to be reliable and punctual, you need to be too. If you're interviewing at home, you should still be "on time" in the sense that you're prepared and ready to get started as soon as your babysitter arrives.
Try to make a good impression. Science tells us that people make first impressions upon meeting someone in as little as seven seconds! As the interviewer, you hold a lot of the power in this situation. But you still want to signal to your potential babysitter that you're someone they actually want to work for. Little differences like sitting up straight, smiling, and making eye contact can make a big difference in how you will be perceived.
Be polite and professional. Again, you want to be someone that the babysitter is willing to work for. If you come across as someone who is short-tempered, untrustworthy, or disorganized, your babysitter might question whether they want to work for you.
Dress appropriately. I know it's been a long day (or week) and you just want to chill out in some sweatpants. But you should dress up a little bit just to convey that you're the person of authority in this relationship. At the very least, comb your hair and throw on a nice shirt. You don't want your babysitter to think you look like such a slob that they start to wonder if you'll be able to pay.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. You want to find out as much as you possibly can about your babysitter and how they'll do their job. After all, you're leaving them alone with your children! When your babysitter asks their own questions, try to expand on answers instead of replying with a simple yes or no. They're trying to get to know you as well.
During The Interview
Time for questions!
We recently posted a whole article devoted to babysitter interview questions and what responses to look for, so I won't list them all again here.
In a nutshell, your interview questions are about getting to know as much as possible about your candidates.
Either before or after you get to your interview questions though, you should go over some details about the job and what it entails. Some things to discuss include:
Job duties. What will you expect of your babysitter? Are they only looking after the kids, or will there also be housework and cleaning involved? (Read about babysitter cleaning expectations here.)
What methods of discipline do you use? What kind of things do you need them to do with the children? (pick up from school, help with homework, take them to the park, etc.) Mention any house rules, like having visitors over, use of a phone, etc.
Scheduling and expected hours. Let your babysitter know how many hours you expect you'll want them to work per week, which days you'll normally need them for, and how much notice you'll give them. You may also want to discuss what happens if you get home late, or in other words, over-time. Make sure you let them know when you'd like them to start too.
Holidays. Let your babysitter know if you're taking any long trips in the next year where their services won't be needed. You should also ask your sitter if they have any time when they won't be available, either in the form of holidays or things like school exams.
About Your Children. Let the babysitter know your children, their ages, the kinds of stuff they like and don't like, any disabilities or other medical conditions to be aware of. You can also discuss their daily schedule and how the babysitter will fit into that.
Suggested Babysitter Interview Structure
Here's a good outline for how your typical interview with a babysitter should go:
- Tell your babysitter about you, your family, and your children.
- Tell your babysitter about the position and what it entails.
- Ask your babysitter about themselves and what they're looking for in a babysitting job.
- Go through your babysitter's resume in detail. Ask them to describe each childcare position.
- Go through your list of interview questions that you've prepared.
- Ask the babysitter if they have any specific questions.
Once you're both satisfied that everything has been covered, bring the interview to a close and let them know that you'll be in touch once you've spoken with all the other candidates.
If you're ready to offer a potential babysitter the job, it's worth bringing it up right away at the end of the interview. They likely have interviews they'll be attending for other jobs, and if you like them enough to hire them then it's possible someone else will snatch them up first if you wait around!
Questions A Babysitter Might Ask You
Just like you have questions that you want to ask your babysitter to make sure they're a good fit, your candidate might have some questions of their own.
If you covered a lot of details while explaining the job duties, you may have eliminated most of your babysitter's questions. But here are some questions you should expect your babysitter to ask so that you can have answers prepared:
- What age is your child?
- What kind of personality does your child have?
- What does your child like and dislike?
- Does your child have a security blanket or comfort toy?
- Does your child have any allergies?
- Does your child have any special needs?
- Will I need to feed your child? Are they bottle-fed formula or breast milk? Will I need to cook meals?
- Is there a certain routine I'll have to follow? (naps, bedtime, baths)
- What duties are required besides childcare?
- What other childcare services have you used?
- How has your child handled past babysitters?
- The minimum pay I'll accept is $X
After The Interview
Once your interview is done, you'll likely have a pretty good gut feeling about how it went. You might feel really strongly about one candidate. You might feel like you haven't found anyone that was a good fit at all, in which case you'll need to start the whole process over. Or you might have multiple candidates that you feel really good about, meaning you have a really difficult decision to make.
Following your gut feeling is a great way to eliminate some of the babysitter candidates that you spoke to who just won't be a good fit for your family. But you shouldn't make your final decision based on gut feelings alone.
Always check your candidate's references, even if they seem like a perfect match.
When you talk to references, you want to ask specific questions about that employer's previous experience with your candidate. How many kids did they watch? What ages were they? Did the babysitter ever exceed expectations?
Try to avoid generic questions like "What can you tell me about Jane?"
If you have any specific concerns that came up during your interview, be sure to ask references some related questions to follow up on those.
See our list of the best 20 questions to ask babysitter references and download our checklist to work through while on the phone.
Check Your Babysitter's Social Media
It might seem a bit creepy to look your babysitter up on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. But most major companies are doing it nowadays.
It's worth taking a couple of minutes to check, just to make sure you're not going to find your babysitter drunk or naked on Facebook.
If your candidate has a LinkedIn profile, you can use that to verify their resume and even potentially reach out to some more references.
Running Your Babysitter Beta Test
If the interview went great and checking references didn't raise any concerns, it might be time to have your babysitter over to your house for a test run.
This is a supervised job before you leave the babysitter alone with your children, and it can just be for an hour or two if that's all you need.
You want to let the babysitter entertain your children and try to stay out of the way as much as possible, either doing some chores or getting something done in another room in the house.
If you have an infant, get your babysitter to demonstrate how they would carry your baby, change their diaper, and feed them.
This way your children get a chance to meet the babysitter and see what they think, sort of like their own interview! Plus you get to see first-hand how they interact, and if they live up to your expectations. If your babysitter seems awkward or uncomfortable around your children, you probably want to look for someone else.
Keep in mind that this test run isn't a free babysitting job. You should expect to pay their normal rate for their time because they're basically doing all the work they normally would.
Also, if you're going to do a test run on multiple different babysitters, try to keep them to one per day. It might get confusing for your children if you have a whole bunch of strange people coming and going from the house and interacting with them.
First Real Job
Once you're satisfied and trust your new babysitter, make sure to leave a sheet or checklist of useful information for them so they'll have all the info they might need while you're away (Download our handy parent details form). Especially at first it's helpful for your babysitter to have all of your house rules and contact information readily available.
What If You Have Multiple Good Candidates?
It never hurts to have a backup babysitter. If you have two or more great babysitters that make it through your interviews, reference, and trial run, why not try to keep them both on board?
You can either have one babysitter as a "backup" that you use in emergencies or in case the other sitter isn't available. Or you may even want to try to split babysitting jobs evenly between them throughout the month, just to have both options available.
What to Look For in a Babysitter
Babysitter Background Checks
(The Complete Guide for Parents)
How To Prepare For Your First Babysitter
(15 Essential Tips)
43 Babysitter Interview Questions
(And What Responses to Look For)
Find a Sitter
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