Questions to ask a Babysitter Before Making a Hiring Decision

Questions to ask a Babysitter Before Making a Hiring Decision

by Martha Scully

When meeting a babysitter for the first time, be sure to make her comfortable, so she can answer your questions honestly. If at all possible, we recommend that you not have the children or pets around, for at least the first portion of the interview so there are as few distractions as possible, and you can both concentrate on your discussion. Sometimes, younger/less experienced babysitters will be extra nervous in interviews, so try to put her at ease during your discussion, and ask her questions she will actually have the answers to. I always recommend following up with her after the interview so she knows you are working through the candidates.

Here are some questions you may want to ask during the interview:

  • What hours are you looking for? How often are you available? She may have other obligations, whether she is working around a school schedule, another work schedule, or other time commitments. Don't assume she has open availability, and express to her how often you anticipate needing her services.
  • How many children are you comfortable looking after? Have you cared for this many in the past? Find out the type of experience she has, and if it matches the number of children you'll be placing in her care. This includes playdates and neighbour visits that may happen.
  • Are you willing to do any other duties, like cooking and/or light housekeeping? The babysitter's main focus will be the children, so some may not be willing to do duties outside of childcare. Others may not be very good at it. It's best to discuss this up front, and be realistic in your expectations.
  • Have you taken any First Aid or CPR courses? If so, when? If not, would you be willing to? For many families, this is a requirement for their child care provider. If it is for your family, make sure your babysitter meets your certification requirements. If she doesn't have them but is willing to obtain for you, offer to assist in the cost of the course(s), either paying for part or all of the course fee.
  • Do you have references from previous employers? It is important that if she does, she is willing to provide you with their contact information. We strongly recommend that you speak to her references. We have some sample reference questions if you don't know what to ask, and if you don't know how to do this, our screening services can help!
  • Have you ever done a criminal record check? Or a driver's abstract? Anyone you hire should complete a criminal record check for your peace of mind, and if the babysitter will be driving your children or your vehicle, we recommend getting a driver's abstract completed. Our screening services can do this for you. 
  • How will you be travelling to/from our home? This will give you an idea of whether she can drive and if she has her own vehicle, if she is comfortable with public transit, or if she is relying on someone else to transport her to/from work.
  • What other types of jobs have you had in the past? Has she ever cared for children on her own before? Does her past employment give her any special skills you can use for your children?
  • What is your rate for babysitting? Do you charge extra for longer or later hours, or for additional children? These topics should be discussed ahead of time, so no one is surprised when it comes up. 
  • Would you be willing to do a trial day? We recommend you have the babysitter over for a paid trial day so you can see how she interacts with your child. Discuss it with her after to see if she has any questions and, if your kids are old enough, ask them how they liked the babysitter.

  • Do you have your own children? Will they be coming with you? Some babysitters are also moms, and are looking for a position where they can bring their own child. Some families like this idea, others don't. Its up to you whether you're comfortable with this or not, but it's important to know either way.
  • Are you ok with pets? If you have pets, this is an important question to ask. They may be allergic or not willing to work in a home with pets, so be sure to discuss this up front.
  • Are you comfortable putting my children to bed? Outline your bedtime routine and make sure she is comfortable with it. She may have cared for young children before, but not had to give them a bath and deal with other bedtime routines.
  • Do you think its ok to spank a child? No matter your parenting choices, it's a good idea to discuss this with your caregiver so you know their views on things, and if they will respect your choices.
  • What would you do if my child ... fell ... had a fever ... wouldn't stop crying ... wouldn't listen to you? Open-ended questions help you to determine if the babysitter will know what to do if something happens, and you can explain how you'd expect the situation to be handled.
  • Have you ever dealt with a crisis while you were babysitting? Tell me about it Again, this helps you to determine if she knows what to do in the event of an emergency and how she would handle it.
  • How much screen-time do you this is acceptable for a child? Will they be using the TV to entertain the kids while she's texting her friends? How does she plan to entertain the kids outside of using electronics?
  • What are some of your favourite activities for children? Playing video games, going on nature walks, doing crafts, baking...her answers will tell you what her interests are, and you can determine if your kids will enjoy her activities.
  • Are there any reasons why you would be unable to lift or pick up my child? If she is unable to lift your child and you need her to, that probably won't work for your needs.

We have more sample interview questions available to you, as well as more posts about babysitters and tips & advice!

About the Author
Martha Scully
Martha is the founder of Martha has been featured as a Child Care Expert in hundreds of publications across Canada including The Globe and Mail, CBC, Today's Parent and The National Post, She lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters.