Finding caregivers that are best for your family takes work. But it’s entirely worth it. Once you’ve found a handful of candidates who meet your criteria on paper, the next step is to interview them. There’s no substitute for the give-and-take of an interview with a potential babysitter or nanny. You can have your more in-depth questions answered and also get a feel for the sitter as a person.
Begin by preparing a list of qualities that are most important to you and prioritize them. For example, do you want someone who is CPR certified or someone who has formal early childhood development training? If that’s important to you, add that to the top of your list. When you’re interviewing a potential caregiver, start with your top priority and work down from there.
Below we’ve outlined typical topics to address when interviewing a nanny or babysitter. Each topic has a list of sample interview questions for caregivers. We suggest using this interview checklist as a starting point and adjusting it to fit your family’s needs.
Questions You Can Ask a Potential Nanny or Babysitter
- What is your child care rate?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?
- Do you live nearby? How can you get to jobs with us? Car, etc.?
- Do you have any allergies to cats, dogs or other pets?
- Are you uncomfortable around or scared of any particular pets?
- Do you have any particular religious affiliation that might affect the way you care for our children?
How much experience does the potential caregiver have with children?
- How many years have you been working with children and in what ways?
- Can you tell me about your past experience specifically as a sitter?
- What ages do you have experience caring for?
- How many children have you watched at one time?
- Do you have any formal training or certifications in early child care?
- Do you have specific child care experience in [fill in the blank depending on what you’re looking for – special needs, potty training, infant care, etc.]
Does the potential caregiver’s schedule align with yours?
- What is your course of study in school or what is your full-time job?
- How many hours a week would you like to work?
- When would you be able to start?
- Do you have other responsibilities outside of child care?
- (For full time/regularly-scheduled jobs) Do you plan on taking any time off in the next six months?
- Are you OK if a job runs later than planned?
Is the potential caregiver dependable and can be trusted to remain in control of any situation?
- Do you know First Aid/CPR and have you been trained or certified?
- Are you familiar with the Heimlich maneuver?
- Can you swim?
- Are you familiar with emergency numbers?
- Can you drive in an emergency?
- Have you ever had an emergency situation? What did you do?
- Do you have any experience administering medicine to children?
- Are you comfortable having a background check run on you?
Responsibilities and Tasks
Is the potential caregiver willing and able to fulfill all the needs your family has?
- How do you feel about play dates for my kids? Can you help arrange these?
- Can you care for more kids if we have a play date in the house?
- Are you OK assisting with homework, possibly making dinner and/or doing light housework?
- Are you comfortable watching my child as a mother’s helper if I decide to stay home during a job?
- Are you willing to help with overnight care if needed?
- Can you travel with my family if we need you to?
People are best at what they are passionate about—does the potential caregiver love what they do?
- Why do you enjoy being a sitter or nanny?
- What are your favorite activities to do with kids?
- What do kids like best about you?
- What’s your best on-the-job memory?
- What do you look for in an employer/family?
Will the potential caregiver act with professionalism?
- Are you looking for a family that you can grow with?
- What would you do if you were sick and unable to make it into work?
- How much notice would you give if you had to leave for another job offer?
- How long were you with each family you’ve worked for?
What is the temperament of the potential caregiver?
- Tell me about a time where you faced a crisis on the job. How did you handle it?
- What would you do with the kids on a day like today?
- What do you do when a child refuses to go to sleep?
- What do you think is the best way to handle tantrums?
- What is your proudest moment in babysitting and why?
- What are your views on discipline? Are you willing to change if we ask?
- Are you comfortable sitting for newborns?
- What is your experience caring for newborns?
- Can you change a diaper?
- Do you know infant CPR?
- Do you know about SIDS and how to prevent it?
- Do you have experience preparing and heating formula?
- Are you familiar with Shaken Baby Syndrome?
- Do you know the proper size for baby chewables and how to prevent choking?
- Can you tell if a room is childproofed?
If the Sitter Will Be Driving
- Are you comfortable driving kids in the car?
- May I see your driver’s license?
- How many years have you been driving?
- Do you have any marks against your driving record (speeding tickets, accidents, etc)?
Ask for References
Be sure to ask for child care references with both the phone number and email address so you can contact them easily. When searching for a babysitter or a nanny on Sittercity, log into your Premium account, go to the profile of the sitter you’re interested in, and scroll down to the References section to find that info.
Meet Your Kids
Give each candidate a chance to spend some time with your child during the interview. Are they excited to meet your child and at ease when interacting with them? Pay attention and trust your instincts.
After the Interview
Ready to make it official with a sitter or nanny?
We’re doing our part to help you confidently find the child care help your family needs on Sittercity. We encourage you to spend some time in our Trust & Safety Center (for both families and sitters).
If you’re ready to move forward with a candidate, look over the background checks you could run for some extra peace of mind and consider writing up a child care contract. Caring for your child is an important job—make the choices that are best for your family.