Even though you feel confident in your child care skills, you may feel unsure about an interview (especially if it’s your first one). Take a deep breath and remember you’ve already done a lot right. Parents only take time to interview their short list of candidates, so you’ve already made a great impression!
Still, you should take your interview seriously and approach it just as you would an interview for any job. Hiring a sitter or nanny can be an emotional decision for parents – they want to find someone both they and their kids feel comfortable with.
To start, here are some good rules of thumb to follow:
– Be on time — or even a few minutes early.
– Don’t forget to shake the parents’ hands.
– Address the parents as Mrs. and Mr. unless they tell you otherwise. It’s always better to be too formal than not formal enough.
– Remember that eye contact and a great smile go a long way!
Here are six more tips to follow to not only increase your chances of landing the job, but also to see if this job is a good fit for you.
Dress comfortably and professionally
One of the most common questions sitters ask is how they should dress for an interview. While you probably already know what not to wear (for the record, a low-cut top or something too revealing), what should you wear?
Dress professionally, but go with something comfortable. The parents might ask you to play with the kids to see how everyone gets along. It might be tough to do that in heels or a dress. That being said, we don’t recommend leggings and your college hoodie.
Wear an appropriate outfit that still allows you to move around and play with the little ones. Dress pants and a nice top could be a good option.
Do your homework
Re-read the job post and your previous messages with the parents before you leave for your interview so everything is fresh in your memory. The parents may have mentioned their children’s names or their favorite activities. Try to bring those things up in your interview to show that you prepared and are genuinely interested in working for this family.
You can also mention some of your favorite age-appropriate games or activities that you like to do to give the parents an idea of how you would spend a day with their kids.
Practice your answers to common interview questions
You’ll feel more comfortable at the interview if you aren’t blindsided with questions you don’t know how to answer. It’s easy to anticipate some of the questions parents might ask. Start by checking out this Babysitter Interview Checklist for Parents.
Some answers you probably know off the top of your head. For others, you might have to think a bit about how you’d reply. Do that thinking at home beforehand, then when you actually get asked the question in an interview, you’ll be ready! Here are a few we recommend practicing beforehand in particular:
What do you like about caring for children?
What do you look for in an employer/family?
Tell me about a time 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 think is the best way to handle tantrums?
Prepare your own questions
An interview is a two-way street. While the parents want to see if you’re a good fit for their family, you also want to use the interview to see if this family is a good fit for you. If everyone disagrees on what the job responsibilities are or hot button issues like discipline, it might be better to pass and wait for an opportunity that’s a better fit. It’s best to figure those things out early on!
Think about what’s important to you. What type of family do you want to work for? Once you have an idea of your “ideal employer,” ask questions that could help determine if this family is it.
Some questions you could ask might include:
What do you look for when hiring a babysitter or nanny for your family?
Does this job require any additional duties or responsibilities besides child care?
What are your views on discipline?
Have you hired a babysitter or nanny who didn’t work out? Why?
Engage with both parents and kids
While it’s the parents who conduct the interview and ultimately make the hiring decision, don’t forget about the most important stars of the show — the kids! If you and the kids don’t jive well together, this job might not be the best fit for you.
If your interview is at their home, ask the parents if you can meet the kids to play with them for a bit. Even if the kids are shy and take a while to warm up to new people, the parents will appreciate that you made the effort to get to know them. If you want to go above and beyond, you could even bring an inexpensive age-appropriate gift like stickers or a coloring book.
Follow up with an email or card
No matter how the interview went, be sure to follow up with a thank you email or card. Parents are extremely busy (that’s why they need your help!) so be sure to thank them for taking time to meet you.
The thank you note is also a perfect opportunity to reinforce to parents why you’re the perfect fit for this job. Focus on your qualifications and avoid saying things like “I really need this job” or “I could really use the money,” which could be interpreted poorly.