The Babysitting Guide: Babysitter Interview

How to interview a babysitter

Interviews are essential when searching for a sitter. Cover the basics, then focus on your rapport with the candidate using conversational questions. Here are some questions to get you started:

Basic questions:

  • Name, phone, address, age, citizenship status
  • Availability (e.g., after school, evenings, weekends, short notice)
  • Rates (different cities have different rates. For example, the cost for a Chicago Babysitter may be different from the cost of a New York Babysitter. Visit Care.com's Babysitting Pay Calculator to find out the rate in your area)
  • References (request name and contact information for 2-3 references)

Conversational questions:

  • Tell me about your experience with children (e.g. babysat siblings, has children)? What age ranges do you have experience with, and are you most comfortable with?
  • What activities do you like doing with kids? Are you willing to go on short, nearby outings (e.g. park, library)?
  • How do you comfort and discipline children? How have you handled crying children or temper tantrums in the past?
  • What is your comfort level with cooking and preparing meals for kids?
  • Are you comfortable with bathing children and bedtime routines?
  • Have you had problems in the past following directives like discipline, development, and daily routines?
  • What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts about being a babysitter?
  • What was your scariest or most difficult babysitting moment? How did you handle the situation?
  • Have you ever had to handle a child emergency? What did you do and what was the outcome? Do you have infant and child CPR certification? Would you be willing to receive such training?
  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
  • For teenage sitters: How are your grades? What do you enjoy doing outside the classroom? Are your parents supportive of your babysitting?

Once you have covered your questions, encourage open communication and ask if they have questions for you. Then, post-interview, follow up with the sitter's references and ask about creativity, dependability, communication abilities, strengths, weakness, and why she's no longer working for them.

Interviews are key to determining whether a babysitter is a good match for your family. Outline your questions in advance to help guide the conversation.

Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for Care.com. She is also the editor of BostonMamas.com.

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Comments (35)
Anon
Do they typically do drug tests? Or is that too intrusive?
Posted: October 14, 2014 at 11:00 AM
momo
Is it to much to ask about the environment at there home. for example, is it clean, do you have pets, who is in the home,are there older kids younger kids, who will be interacting with my child.
Posted: May 19, 2014 at 11:28 AM
Jillian P.
Can you ask to see their id and address? Or photocopy. Or is that too intrusive ...
Posted: May 07, 2014 at 6:19 PM
Photo of Thelma J.
Thelma J.
I am a certified care provider for children and seniors with years of experience especially newborns and infants. I have two children and was their full time mom for 9 years. In my own opinion, caring for a child needs a lot of common sense. The routines are very practical and the job is so much easier if you know what you are doing. I understand what parents are looking for in a babysitter. They want a 100% security and safety for their children and assurance that their kids are all well fed, nurtured, and loved. I am a mother too, so at work I do the same considering other kids as your own kids. Parents out there should be very careful in choosing your babysitter. There are so many that are very good in interviews but not good in their job. A good communicator doesn't mean a good babysitter. There are some better/best babysitters or nannies yet not really good in expressing their ideas but your children are well taken good care compared to others. I knew these things because some families shared their experience with other sitters. Don't be cheap in paying babysitters because they work really hard for the well being of your children and keeping your house neat and clean. Respect and treat your nannies like a family because they are your partners in taking good care of your
children.
Posted: March 24, 2014 at 5:18 PM
Care.com Member Care
Hi Cybelle! You should absolutely ask those type of questions! Our Preferred + Background Check also includes a Motor Vehicle Record for situations just like yours! Here's another great article you can check out about things to know when your nanny is going to be driving your kids:
http://www.care.com/child-care-7-things-to-know-before-your-nanny-drives-your-kids-p1017-q31518685.html
I hope this helps!
Posted: March 04, 2014 at 2:55 PM
Cybelle P.
I need a babysitter that can take my baby from the day care and bring him home. Should I ask about car insurance x drivers ability? is it too intrusive?
Posted: February 26, 2014 at 11:28 AM
Photo of Amy D.
Amy D.
These questions are a great start for the interview. We are about to start interviewing for a babysitter and I wasn't sure where to begin. Thanks for the advice.
Posted: February 21, 2014 at 3:06 PM
Photo of Kimberly W.
Kimberly W.
Would you consider scheduling an interview with about 30 min of personal interaction with the kids they will be watching(while i did house chores nearby or something) still an unpaid interview? Or would that be considered a payable job?
Posted: January 22, 2014 at 5:23 PM
Skarlit Adalee
These questions were great! For a 13 year old daily babysitter, they really helped me!
Posted: January 01, 2014 at 7:27 PM
holly
I just got a babysitting job by my boyfriends boss..shes gonna interveiw me about it her baby's a 1 yr. Old I have in the past watched over kids from 1-12 but its only been in the family so I'm new to this does anyone know what questions ill be asked?
Posted: December 11, 2013 at 4:24 PM
Photo of Carina A.
Carina A.
I am 18 and a babysitter. This has been very helpful reading through the comments. Now I feel like I know a little more of what to expect from potential new families looking for my assistance.
Posted: September 27, 2013 at 9:47 PM
Kimberly P.
Very helpful since I am in the process of finding a babysitter for the near future : )
Posted: September 18, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Member Care.
Hi Smita W,

Safety is a top priority at Care.com and we always advise our families to go through several rounds of interviewing even if the care is not a long term arrangement. Our best advice would be to start off with a phone interview, then meet in a neutral spot like a coffee shop or library, and then do a final interview within your home.
Posted: March 20, 2013 at 1:43 PM
Photo of Smita W.
Smita W.
Do you interview babysitter in person for date night or one time babysitting ?
Posted: March 18, 2013 at 7:14 PM
Ron
I would never allow any sitter to bath our kids.Your asking for trouble..
New research suggests girls sexploring young boys is almost epidemic-why would you even take the chance. This is a new age, protect your kids. If you cannot get them ready in time whats one more day!!!!
Posted: January 21, 2013 at 7:51 PM
Danielle W.
I also always ask about religion, and if they plan on teaching their beliefs to the children.
Posted: January 12, 2013 at 2:51 PM
Danielle W.
always ask about family history of abuse, expecialy sexual abuse. People who are abused, act out because of it in different ways. A friend of mine had an excelent sitter who watched her 4 year old daughter at the sitters house, but while she was making lunch, the kids played in the back yard, her son, who had been sexualy abused, pulled his pants down and grabed the young girl, acting out from his own experience. The sitter intervined immediatly, and it could have been much worse if she hadnt, but still, that girl is scarred. I know because I took over as her sitter and her whole attitude/ temperment changed as soon as my husband came home, or when there were boys playing at the park we waled to.
Posted: January 12, 2013 at 2:46 PM
Grace
i'am a babysitter and i have heard these questions a lot asking about me and my experience. and i think that this site would be most helpful to for moms and dads who don't really know the person that they are leaving there children in the hands of.
Posted: December 09, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Photo of Patricia S.
Patricia S.
Anna,

If he is not going to allow you to change his diaper, then I would suggest watching his fluid intake before you leave. I would also bring extra clothing so if/when he should wet thru he can quickly change. Also, you could speak to his parent's about getting liner's for inside his diaper, which can absorb more then just the diaper alone. They also sell plastic/rubber pant's. They basically slip over the diaper to keep his clothe's dry. Neither of these option's solve your problem, but they will at least give you time to leave where ever you are w/o him getting embarrassed. Accident's happen to every child, even with out disadvantage's. The more prepared you are, and the more calm you are, they better he will be in the end.

Good Luck!
Posted: September 09, 2012 at 9:43 PM
Alyssa F.
I hope this will help me with the interviews I have set up on the phone tomorrow! Thanks, this was very interesting and helpful to read!
Posted: August 22, 2012 at 3:37 PM
Patricia B.
I have always interviewed babysitters at my house. I tell them they are welcome to bring someone along if they feel the need, but that person may not participate in the interview. I hold the interview at my house for many reasons. First and foremost every job I have ever interviewed for it was at the place where I would be working. Babysitting is no different to me. Its more comfortable for me and the kids and the babysitter can see what the rules of the house are while we talk. I have yet to run into an issue with the interview being at my house. But every person is different in what they feel comfortable with.
Posted: August 17, 2012 at 11:04 AM
shauna L.
Hi I'm Shauna Lyles and i am 14 years old and I want to be a babysitter. I would like to know if I could still sign up to be a babysitter on this site
Posted: July 27, 2012 at 2:31 PM
Photo of Jeff J.
Jeff J.
Suzanne and Colleen - we always have our interviews at the local public library. It is a neutral place but it is much easieer, and cheaper, than going to a restaurant. Plus they get to see our daughter in one of her natural habitats, she acts much more like herself at the library with someone new than at a restaurant with someone new. I hope this helps!
Posted: July 23, 2012 at 10:11 AM
Debra M.
what do u do on this site
Posted: June 18, 2012 at 6:16 PM
Athena-or-Anna
I am a baby sitter and i need to ask a question. I'm a baby sitter for this parents 12 year old boy who is incontinent he is also autistic and selectively mute. Some boy they have. He luckily talks to me but not at school or in public I don't know why. He wanted to go out and he's aloud to so I said ok and when we went out we just actualy went to the park and walked around. He had a wet diaper and there were no restrooms or anywhere privately to change him. I knew he would throw a huge fit or would refuse if I asked him to lay down then took out a diaper and TRIED to change him. What should I pack in a diaper bag for him when we go out for next couple weeks. BTW my name is Anna this is a lot of work handling this kid so please help me Please!!!!
Posted: June 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Photo of Colleen B.
Colleen B.
I am wondering the same thing as Suzanne... interview at home or neutral location???
Posted: May 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Photo of Suzanne A.
Suzanne A.
Should the interview take place at my home or at a neutral location, such as lunch in a restaurant?
Posted: May 21, 2012 at 11:57 PM
DANIEL
Hi, I am wondering how old do you have to be to be available as a sitter?
Posted: April 26, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Photo of Melissa T.
Melissa T.
thank you so much for this information. this gives me a guideline to start interviewing babysitters
Posted: January 25, 2012 at 1:16 PM
kyra mazie
nannies are always helpful around the house and if they are not schooled they will not been able to have this job....
i can truly say that there is some good nannies and some really stupped nannies but as for me i have a family of 8 and i have 3 grand child this makes me love looking after kids i love being a mom and a grandmom.....
Posted: November 08, 2011 at 5:54 AM
Photo of Jenny R.
Jenny R.
I have been a nanny for two years after teaching for thirty-three years in elementary school. I am also a mother of two grown children and a six month old grandchild. As a nanny, my responsibilities are endless. I am like their grandmother when they need hugs and love, their teacher when they need help with learning or homework, their mom when they need life lessons, and their companion on outings, lessons, and activities. But, in addition, I do the chores around the house including laundry, cooking, cleaning, trash, shopping, dishes, errands, pet care, feeding, baths, and bedtime rituals, etc. We go to doctor and dentist appointments, gymnastics, school, and birthday parties. If you are hiring a nanny you need to know that that person is not only a good fit for your children's care and safety, but is also a good fit for your family in temperment, personality, and work ethic. Try hiring someone for a "trial" week and make sure he/she is that special someone who will make the lives of the entire family more functional and enriched.
Posted: October 13, 2011 at 1:37 PM
Photo of Shari H.
Shari H.
A nanny is someone who comes along side the parents to help care for, play with, teach some basic age level academics in casual and fun ways not like in a class room, teach basic social skills, and how to be self efficient. A nanny takes the children on outings like to the park or the zoo and other fun places and uses these times to help the children learn. A nanny might be responsible for taking the children to scheduled activities like dance, gymnastics or soccer class. They may be asked to take a child to the doctor or dentist. My experiences with this has been meeting the parent at the doctor but if a parent can't get away from work then a nanny would be the one doing these things. A babysitter does not have these kinds of responsibilities.

The nanny may have other responsibilities around the home to if the family has requested. Light chores would be like unloading the dishwasher or doing the children's laundry. Some bigger things might be vacuuming or dusting around the house. A babysitter may assist children with picking up and might put dishes in the dishwasher for the family if she served the children dinner but other than this she isn't doing any other chores.

I do not believe all nannies need have been schooled in formal education to be an excellent fit for a family. I grew up babysitting and became a nanny when I was around the age of 23. The only formal training I would have received was from working in a day care center and I wouldn't really count that as training. I have common sense and know how to guide and redirect children, rather it be in fun, discipline, or even in the midst of some (not all) temper tantrums.
Posted: August 03, 2011 at 1:06 PM
Rhonda R.
What age children have you cared for and how many hours a week did you care for the children? What other duties did you have in the family home? Do you have any problems with taking my children to the park or other places of interest? Do you have a age apporitate lesson plans/activites for different stages of development?
Nanny care is usually in-home living or a combination of nurturing care of the children, with other duties in the home. Nannies help fill in the gap when parents are away at work. Professional nannies are usually certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, fluent in First Aid, and have a degree or extensive training in child development.
Baby sitters watch your children to make sure they are safe, feed, play with them but not necessarily with any other duties. A babysitter provides supervisory/custodial care of children typicallly on a part-time or an as-needed basis. No special training or background is required for most babysitting jobs.
Posted: July 31, 2011 at 12:26 PM
Caryn J.
For a nanny I would want to ask if they've ever spent more than three full days in charge of the same kids. It's so different than just spending a few hours, you know?
Posted: July 17, 2011 at 10:35 AM
Heather B.
this is helpful. Are there questions for interviewing nannies on here?
Posted: June 27, 2011 at 7:28 PM
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