Interview Questions and Tips for Hiring Babysitters and Nannies

I have many years of experience hiring early childhood teachers and caregivers for YW and YMCA children’s programs but when it came to hiring a nanny and babysitter for my precious baby, all of that experience went out the window.  I was far more emotional about it and found I needed a plan.

I created four steps and a list of interview questions that worked well for our family.  We have now had our nanny and our babysitters for over a year and we are very happy with them.  These steps and questions  are based on our nanny/sitter watching only one child who was only three months old at the time.  If you have multiples or older children, you will need to modify.

Step 1 – Initial contact – I make first contact over the phone to save myself time and to see if I can understand them over the phone.   This is important in the case of them needing to make an emergency phone call.  I also want to see what kind of language skills my child will be exposed to on a daily basis.

I ask them the following questions over the phone:

  • When are you available to start work?
  • What days and times are you available?
  • I pay $? per hour/week/month.
  • What languages do you speak?
  • Do you have your own transportation?
  • Do you have your own children and if so, how old?
  • Have you cared for children before?  How old were the children?
  • Are you infant CPR certified?
  • We have a dog/cat.  Are you okay with animals?
  • Are you willing to clean my home too?  If so, I pay $? more.
  • May I have the information of two of your employers?  I call them before the interview.
  • Please bring to your interview copies of your driver license, infant CPR card and a current background check if you have one.
  • If they do not have background check or infant CPR, then I world arrange for them to be infant CPR certified and decide after their interview if I need a background check or not.

Step 2 – The Interview – I strive to ask questions that will encourage conversation so I can get a feel of the person’s warmth and demeanor.

  • Tell me about the best job you had when working with children.
  • Tell me about the worst job you had when working with children.
  • Tell me about your educational background.
  • How many hours a day do you feel a baby (or age of your child) needs to sleep?
  • How often do you feel a baby needs his/her diaper changed, other than when they have a poop?
  • If my baby has a physical accident where she is injured, what steps will you take?  What do you do first?
  • If you bathe my baby, how will you do it?
  • Do you know how to make a bottle and use my bottle brand?
  • How often does a three month old need to feed?
  • How do you play with a three month old (or age of your child)?
  • If discipline or positive guidance is ever needed for my child, how will you handle it?
  • Will you ever need to bring your children with you to my home?
  • What are your opinions about children and television?
  • If you are ill or have a personal emergency, how much notice do you give and can you recommend someone who can come in for you?
  • Do you feel comfortable driving my child in your car?  If so and if I hire you, I will want to ride with you the first time.
  • Will you be moving or taking another job in the near future?
  • Are you available to work during such and such holidays?
  • We will pay you on  X day after each shift/week/month, etc.
  • OPTIONAL ITEMS REGARDING PAY:  Work out your system of payment before the interviewee agrees to accept the position.  For example:  We will give you one week paid vacation per year.  We will pay you extra when you work on holidays.  We only pay $? for daytime or night time.  We will review your pay in one year to decide on a raise.

Step 3 – Your House Rules – During the above questions, you will most likely cover how you do things.  If you do not, do so at the interview so you can gauge the interviewee’s reactions and hear his/her thoughts.  Be overly thorough and write down every detail of how you do things.  List definite don’ts at your house.  Don’t assume they know it is not okay to have guests in your home, are able to smoke, drink, etc.  Be very specific.  I made my list in two languages since my nanny/babysitter speaks Spanish and English.  You can use Google Translator to do so.

Step 4 – You’re Hired!  The Training – I had my nanny/babysitter come in on a day when I could be home.  I showed her each and every step I do for feeding, bathing, putting down for nap and playing with my baby.  I also showed her where baby’s food, bottles, diapers and supplies.  Since my nanny/babysitter cleans, I also showed her how to clean my home and where those supplies are kept.

VERY IMPORTANT:  I made a list of emergency contacts, including my work schedule, who can and cannot come to my home or pick up my child, my baby’s doctor information, the nearest hospital’s information and taped it to my refrigerator.  I also posted a Permission To Treat Form which allows my nanny/babysitter to request care at a clinic or hospital in an emergency.

These steps and questions made the interview process so much easier for me and gave our family peace of mind.  These can be your guide when devising your plan.

Nancy Mathé

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