The Babysitter Interview: What Questions to Ask?

Hiring a new babysitter can cause anxiety for both parents and children, whether it’s the first time you’re leaving your infant with a stranger or you have used sitters with your kids for years. The days of asking a next-door neighbor to watch your kids are long gone. Modern times have understandably made us all more wary about the people who care for our children and the treatment our children receive.

In order to find the best babysitter for your family, it is important that you screen a few candidates and compare them before deciding whom to hire. However, it can be hard to strike the right balance between an “anything goes” approach and an FBI interrogation! You want to give the impression that you are very involved and concerned, but you also don’t want to scare all potential sitters away. Preparing a list of standard questions will help you to stay focused yet relaxed and friendly during a babysitter interview. Here are a few suggestions on what to ask. Remember, the “right” and “wrong” answers are entirely up to you.

Fact Questions
The first questions you ask will probably be straightforward information-seeking questions.

  • Do you have a driver’s license? Do you have your own transportation?
  • Are you in school? Do you work? If yes, where?
  • When are you available to babysit? How much notice do you need before a job?
  • What do you charge?
  • How long have you been babysitting? What is your childcare experience?
  • Are you certified in CPR or first aid?
  • Do you know how to use a car seat/high chair/stroller/playpen?
  • Can you give me a list of references?

Opinion Questions
Asking the interviewee’s opinion on various subjects will give you an idea of the person’s general outlook and value system. Remember that no candidate is going to be perfect, so keep these questions within reason and applicable to a sitting job.

  • What do you like most about babysitting children? What do you dislike about it?
  • How would you discipline a child who was not behaving?
  • Do you feel comfortable driving the children in your vehicle? In one of our vehicles?
  • What ages do you enjoy working with?
  • Are you comfortable with caring for an infant, including feeding and diapering?

Situational Questions
It’s a good idea to ask one or two “What if?” questions of every babysitter candidate to give you some idea of the babysitter’s analytical thinking skills, knowledge base, life experience and common sense. Here are a few examples, but you should make up your own questions based on a specific situation in your household.

  • “If I tell you that we are going to be home by 10:00 p.m. and you find yourself still waiting at 10:15, what will you do?”
  • “So I’ve talked to you about Jesse’s severe allergy to bee stings… What steps would you take if Jesse were to be stung?”

When conducting an interview, try to do it in person or over the phone. While technology such as email, social networking, chatting, and texting is convenient in many situations, it’s not an ideal way to get a sense of a person’s true character. Facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice will round out your complete picture of a person. It’s almost impossible to get a vibe from written words alone, and sometimes those vibes are crucial input when making a final decision.