It may be a familiar adage, but it’s true. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression — especially when you’re interviewing for a babysitting job. Even if you’re the most qualified person for the position, bombing the babysitting job interview questions could cost you the gig. A good way to get a leg up? Know the most common babysitting interview questions in advance and have your answers ready.
“Resumes and written examples of experience can be a great first indication that someone is a strong caregiver candidate, but I always tell parents to ask about previous experience, references and have multiple in-person interviews with potential sitters to ensure they’re confident in their decision,” says Dr. Sarah Smiddy Youssef, a pediatrician at Holston Medical Group in Kingsport, Tennessee.
Krysten Barone, a veteran babysitter of over 10 years, says that she can usually predict some of the questions she’s going to get asked before her interview. “A lot of the same questions always come up,” she explains. “In addition to wanting a background check and references, I’m often asked if I’m available some weekends and if I can do light meal prep, light housework and run errands.”
Emily Marinucci, another babysitter of over 10 years, notes many of the same questions as Barone and adds, “But always, at the end, they ask about my rate.”
Got the interview? Congrats! But don’t pop the sparkling cider just yet. Make sure you’re ultra-prepared by familiarizing yourself with these common babysitting interview questions and our experts’ advice on the best ways to answer them.
Babysitting interview questions and answers
Experience and history questions
1. How long have you been babysitting?
According to Michelle LaRowe, lead educator at Global Nanny Training, it’s important to be truthful about your experience — even if you’re just starting out as a babysitter. “Let the parents know how long you’ve been caring for children and why you have chosen to do so,” she says. “Sharing a favorite experience and some of the fun things you have done with children in your care can help put parents at ease.”
2. What age ranges of children have you cared for?
When this question comes, be truthful since different age groups require different skill sets. “Caring for newborns and caring for preteens are very different jobs,” LaRowe says. “Be honest about the ages of children you have cared for, and with the parents’ permission, of course, offer a reference or two for families you’ve worked with who have similar aged children.”
LaRowe also recommends having an answer ready about which ages you’re most comfortable caring for. “Be transparent,” she says. “When you do this, you can avoid being in a situation where you may feel over your head.” Think: An after-school playdate with four 10-year-olds.
3. What is your experience caring for multiple children?
According to Smiddy Youssef, parents with multiple children are generally going to prefer babysitters “with experience across the varying age ranges.”
“While using a babysitter gives parents the flexibility of having care at home, it does mean that only one person will be watching their kids,” Smiddy Youssef says, adding that parents should feel “confident in your abilities to meet each of their children’s needs.”
Be prepared for these follow-up questions, according to Smiddy Youssef:
- What could a typical day or evening look like for the kids?
- What activities do you like to do with children at these ages?
4. Do you have references?
A question that’s 100% going to come up (potentially even before an interview) is if you can provide references — aka, names and numbers for a few families who can speak to your babysitting skills (Ragazzo asks about them in every interview, and both Barone and Marinucci have never not been asked about references.)
“Parents want to know you’ve done this before and have been trusted by other parents over the course of time,” explains LaRowe. “Ask a few parents you’ve sat for if you can include them as references. Hearing positive feedback from another parent can often bring peace of mind when hiring a new sitter.”
5. Would you be willing to consent to a background check?
For many families, background checks are a must before hiring so they will often ask for your permission to run one during an interview. A background check, which can be done easily online, will show felonies, misdemeanors and even traffic violations, notes Smiddy Youssef.
To take a proactive approach, run your own background check and have it at-the-ready during the interview. If you’re using the Care.com platform, you are required to undergo enhanced screening, which includes a criminal background check called CareCheck. When your CareCheck is complete, your profile will display a CareCheck badge, and you will be able to apply for and accept jobs from families on Care.com.
Health and safety questions
6. Are you CPR and first-aid certified?
When you’re babysitting, the “child’s safety and health should be the top priority,” says Smiddy Youssef. “Parents want to be certain that their child is with someone safe and reliable,” she adds, which is why CPR and first-aid certification are “must-haves.”
If you are not certified to give first aid and CPR, “get it before agreeing to care for children,” LaRowe says. “If you have it, great!” she adds. “Be sure to tell the parents why it was essential to you to have this important certification.”
7. What is your experience supporting kids with unique health needs?
“If a child has an ongoing condition like asthma, it’s important for a caregiver to have previous knowledge and experience supporting children with these needs,” Smiddy Youssef says, adding that parents will often ask you to explain how you would handle specific scenarios that could happen while the kids are in your care.
Some follow-up questions could be:
- How would you respond if [insert health issue] happens?
- What would you do if you felt like the health situation worsened?
- When and how will you communicate with me about any issues?
Schedule and rate questions
8. What is your availability?
Parents are busy people, so it’s important to make your availability crystal clear whether it’s just Tuesday and Thursday after school or any evening you don’t have another job booked. “If you tend to be available on weekends, let the family know that you are usually available on weekends, but there are some weekends you will not be available,” LaRowe says. “You do not want to get locked into babysitting every Friday night if that’s not something you really want to do.”
9. What is your pay rate?
“Learn what the realistic going rate for babysitters in your area is,” says LaRowe. “Factor in your experience and what you bring to the table when determining your rate. Be sure to let the parents know what your desired wage rate is prior to committing to care for their children. There’s nothing more awkward than having to have a discussion about wages after you’ve already provided care.”
Not sure how to determine your hourly rate? Check out our babysitting rates calculator.
10. How do we book you?
Parents want to know how they can best reach you, notes LaRowe. “Consider having a business card or digital file you can share that has all of your contact information on it,” she says. “Add some info about you and your experience to leave a good impression.”
If you’re communicating with families on a platform like Care.com, respond to babysitting requests promptly with a quick “Yes” to confirm you’re available (or ask for a quick call if you have questions) or a quick “No, maybe next time!” so families can continue their search.
11. Do you anticipate any changes in your schedule?
While most babysitting jobs are for one-time or occasional child care, families looking to book a regular sitter might ask this question. Ragazzo, who uses an after-school sitter one day a week while she’s working, needs to make sure she’s hiring a sitter who’s reliable for a set period of time. Because of this, she always asks about their schedule up front.
That said, you shouldn’t feel the need to make yourself available at all times to get a babysitting job. “Let the family know that you evaluate your schedule on a month-to-month basis,” says LaRowe, “and if you’re available, you are always happy to provide care.”
Questions about discipline
12. How do you approach discipline?
“Caregivers should be aligned with parents on what this means and what’s appropriate for the kids’ age,” Smiddy Youssef says. So before you start listing typical strategies, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page.
Consider asking parents some questions about their views on discipline, including:
- How do you encourage good behavior?
- If the child isn’t complying with instructions, how would you handle it?
13. How do you handle conflict between siblings?
Ragazzo, who has two girls, ages 10 and 8, always asks potential sitters how they handle sibling conflict before hiring, as she likes to know their style isn’t the polar opposite of hers. More specifically: She likes to hear both sides and have her girls work things out together — so she’s not looking for a sitter who’s going to point fingers or take sides.
That being said, LaRowe notes that when you’re asked this question, it’s a great opportunity to ask the parents what works best for their family and how they prefer you handle things — even if this comes after sharing how you’ve handled things for other families in the past.
Questions about tasks and responsibilities
14. How do you keep the kids engaged and/or entertained?
Have a few of your favorite kids’ activities at the ready so you’re prepared for this question. And don’t worry about being too specific. If you like nature, consider simple nature hikes. If you like theater, think about how the kids could put on a mini play. You don’t need step-by-step instructions, just general ideas.
If you’re caring for kids who still nap, LaRowe suggests asking the parents what, if anything, they’d like you to do during that time.
15. Are you willing to prepare light meals and clean up after?
A question Ragazzo always asks — and a question Barone always gets — is if you are willing to do light meal prep. Barone says she’s always willing and ready to make pasta and chop veggies. Make sure you’re honest about your skills in the kitchen. You don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to mealtime.
16. How do you handle specific dietary rules?
If the parents forbid junk food, so should you. Full stop. “Babysitters should consider how they’ll handle parents’ food preferences and any questions they may have if they eat outside of the home,” says Smiddy Youssef.
In fact, babysitters should be an extension of parents when it comes to all the house rules, she says, and this includes what the kids eat, what the kids watch, how much screen time they have and anything else.
17. Are you willing to find and take the kids on outings?
When parents work from home, it can be hard to get work done — even when a sitter is with the kids. Because of this, many parents appreciate it when sitters are willing to take the kids out to the park, the library or other kid-friendly places. That said, LaRowe notes that if you’re not familiar with the area, let the family know what activities you may be comfortable doing outside the home.
18. What do you enjoy doing?
According to Marinucci, this is a question she often gets — and she welcomes it, as it’s a great opportunity to shine. “I love being asked about my passions during an interview,” she says, adding that “making kids happy” is genuinely at the top of her list. “Having fun and spending time with people I love — kids in particular — is what I love most in life.”
“Have one or two of your favorite reasons for working with children at the tip of your tongue at all times,” LaRowe adds. “Parents want to know why you enjoy working with children and what motivates you to take on babysitting jobs.”
19. Why did you become a babysitter?
Yes, the schedule and pay can be good, but families want to know, beyond that, why you’ve chosen to work with children.
“This is a question I ask my babysitters and nannies to help determine if they’re the right fit for my family,” Smiddy Youssef explains, adding that, for her, it’s a match if a sitter’s answers show they’re “passionate about caring for children.”
“I love kids and watching them grow — so I say just that,” Marinucci adds.
Questions families cannot ask
As with any hiring process, families need to follow legal guidelines about questions they can ask. Families cannot ask about your:
- Race/ethnic background.
- Religious views.
- Sexual orientation.
- Marital status/plans on becoming pregnant.
- Arrest record.
The bottom line
While having solid answers to these common babysitting interview questions is important, keep in mind, you also need to mesh well with the kids. “Now that my girls are older, I ask the sitter to spend some time with them, and then after, I ask the girls for feedback,” Ragazzo says. “That counts for a lot. If the girls felt comfortable and the sitter made an effort during the interview — showed up on time, demonstrated enthusiasm for the kids, answered questions thoughtfully — then I set up a first babysitting date and take it from there. In the meantime, I call their references for more feedback.”
Smiddy Youssef has a similar approach, doing a “test run,” before making things official. “Before we chose our babysitter, we had a ‘try-out’ day where my husband and I were home, but allowed space for our kids and the sitter to interact with each other as if we weren’t there,” she says, adding that she was “so glad” she did, as it showed her what a typical day would look like and how the sitter and kids interacted.