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Interviewing for a Babysitting Job

How to Respond to Job Postings

As a job seeking babysitter, you have listed yourself on, and you have searched the employer-family database for jobs that may be a good fit for you.  How you respond to job postings wil form a first impression in the minds of your prospective employer-families. 

What follows is a list of tips for creating a positive first impression by responding well to job postings.

Be professional, both in your written and spoken words. For example, is your e-mail, resume, or application completed in a tidy, thorough, and grammatically correct manner? Are you speaking using a well modulated tone and a professional vocabulary? Are your statements, whether written or oral, clear and concise? 

Refrain from discussing your personal life any more than is necessary to answer your prospective employer-family's job-relevant questions.

Do not say that you want this job because you need the money or initiate discussion about the pay rate of the job.

Be organized. Thoroughly read and remember the employer-family's posting before contacting the employer-family.  Emphasize your qualifications, listing or discussing them from most important first to least important last, based on the perspective of your prospective employer-family (i.e., emphasize what you think THEY will consider your strongest qualifications).

Be caring and courteous. Make sure that your prospective employer-family knows how much you love children. Pay attention to everything said by your prospective employer-family. Never interrupt.

By following these tips, you will be well on your way to landing that babysitting job you've been wanting!

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Be Polite and Make a Good Impression

You have landed a babysitting interview, and you think the job may be a good fit for you.  As you prepare for your interview, brush up on interview etiquette.  It makes a very bad impression not to use good manners at a job interview.  Interviewing etiquette includes the following.

  • Show up for your interview on time.
  • Be dressed professionally yet child-friendly.
  • Be clean and neat in your appearance.
  • Accessorize your look by using both cosmetics and jewlery in a professional, conservative manner.
  • Shake hands with your interviewers, both when your interview begins and ends.
  • Address your interivewers by formal title unless they instruct you otherwise. (For example, if you are interviewing with John and Jane Doe, you should address them as Mr. Doe and Mrs. Doe unless they ask you to call them John and Jane.)
  • Make good eye contact.
  • Smile easily and often.
  • Speak professionally, kindly, clearly, and concisely.
  • Remember to say "please", "thank you", "sir", and "ma'am".
  • Avoid saying "um", "uh," "well", "you know", "like", and any slang or derogatory word.
  • Be organized and well informed.  (For example, memorize information about your prospective employer-family before your interview. Ask informed questions about their expectations regarding this job, and have spare copies of your resume available during the interview.) 
  • If there are children present at your interview, feel free to speak to and bond with them. 
  • Send a thank-you note to your interviewers within 24 hours following your interview.

By following these tips, you will create a positive first impression and be well on your way to landing the job you want. 

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Check Those References

Just as you should provide your references to your prospective employer-family, your prospective employer-family should do the same for you. When interviewing for a babysitting job, you may ask your prospective employer-family for their references.

Before you accept a job with the family, you should check the family's references. If the family has had previous babysitters, ask for their names and telephone numbers so you can hear about their experiences while working for the family and why they left the job.

If the family has never had a babysitter before, you can ask for telephone numbers for past daycare centers. If none of those exist, ask for personal references for the family.

When you work for a family, you want to be safe and be employed in a job that is a good fit for you.  By engaging in a thorough interview and then checking the family's references, you will have done due diligence to ensure that this will be a good job for you.

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Different Types of Interviews

There are several ways in which one may be interviewed for a babysitting position.

Telephone interviews.  Typically, you will be notified by e-mail or phone that a prospective employer-family wishes to interview you. An interview date and time will be set. At the designated time on the date of the interview, the person conducting the interview will call you. Make sure that you are available and have a quiet, uninterrupted time and space for the interview.  Turn off all distracting sounds (the radio, television, celllular telephone, etc.)

Video teleconference interviews.  Typically, you will be notified by e-mail or phone that a prospective employer-family wishes to interview you.  An interview date, time, and place will be set.  Before the time of your interview, you should arrive at the teleconferencing facility and be oriented to the use of the video teleconferencing equipment that is there.  At the designated time on the date of the interview, the person conducting the interview will contact you via the video teleconferencing equipment.  Turn off your cellular telephone and limit your distractions.

In-person interviews.  Typically, you will be notifed by e-mail or phone that a prospective employer-family wishes to interview you.  An interview date, time, and place will be set.  Before the time of your interivew, you should drive by (or otherwise locate) the location at which your interview will be held.  Often, the prospective employer-family will have you come directly to their home.  A prospective employer-family may also want to meet you at a neutral spot, such as a quiet coffee house, to conduct the interview.  At (or shortly before) the designated time on the date of the interview, show up at the designated location for your interview.  Turn off your cellular telephone and limit your distractions.

"Trial run" interviews.  Typically, you will be notified by e-mail or phone that a prospective employer-family wishes to interview you.  An interview date, time, and place will be set.  Before the time of your interview, you should drive by (or otherwise locate) the location at which your interview will be held.  During a "trial run" interview, which is held in the child's home, you will typically spend one night in the home. During this time, the child's parents will not only interview you for the position but will also observe you interacting with their child.  It is important to plan some fun activities for the child you are visiting.

Regardless of the type of interview you have, always remember your interview etiquette. 

You may experience more than one type of interview for any one available job.  For example, you may receive a preliminary telephone interview and then an in-person interview thereafter.

Whichever type of interview(s) you experience, you are being given an opportunity to "sell" yourself and your babysitting services to your prospective employer-family.  Make the most of your opportunity.

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Do Your Research

Before you submit your resume or application for, or otherwise express interest in, a babysitting job, you should have enough preliminary information about the job to know whether it may be (at least preliminarily) the kind of job you want.  Preliminary information includes whether the job is full-time or part-time, where you would be working (i.e., where the family lives), etc.  It is important to know these basic facts first so that you don't waste your time (and the prospective employer-family's time) by submitting for a job that you don't really want.  Preliminary information is usually obtained from the prospective employer-family's online posting, help-wanted advertisment, etc. 

Before you interview for a babysitting job, it is wise to research the job and the prospective family as much as is reasonably possible prior to your interview.  For example, how many children are in the family?  What are their ages?  What do they like to do?  Is the family outdoorsy or indoorsy?  Is the family well regarded?  What have their prior babysitters been like (this tells you what the family may be expecting in their next babysitter)?  Information such as this is typically gathered by speaking to people you know who may also know the family.  (Note: ensure that you carry out your research in a professional manner.  If you come across as invasive or interrogating, it may form a negative impression of you that may ultimately get back to your prospective employer-family and damage your opportunity for the job.)

By doing your research, you ensure that you are pursuing only those jobs that meet your needs and expectations; preventing the wasting of your time and your prospective employer-family's time; gathering the information needed to respond to anticipated interview questions with answers that speak to the perspectives and circumstances of your prospective employer-family; and communicating to your prospective employer-family that you are intelligent, well informed, responsible, well prepared, and have a genuine interest in the job.

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Prepare Your Answers

Interview questions vary from one employer-family to another.  However, there are some interview questions that are commonly asked.  

Before your interview, take time to develop your best answers to common questions that you will likely be asked.  If you have done thorough research on the job and the prospective employer-famly, you can and should build the family's perspectives and circumstances into your answers.  For example, if the question is, "Why are you the best candidate for this job?", your answer could be, "I understand that you have three children, ages 4,3, and 1.  I have babysat for seven families with three or more children of the preschool or younger age group.  I love working with little ones.  Also, I understand that you are an outdoorsy family.  I love exploring the hiking and biking trails in this area, and would love the opportunity to do that with your children.  I am CPR certified, and I have an Associate's Degree in early childhood education.  I am nurturing, responsible, and dependable.  I will be a good role model for your chldren.  I take that resposibility very seriously."

Other common interivew questions include:

  1. What hours are you willing and able to babysit for us?
  2. Why do you want this job?
  3. How many years have you been babysitting?  With what age groups?  How long have you babysat with each family (i.e., several years?  or less?)?
  4. What was the best babysitting experience you've had? What was it that made that experience so meaningful to you?
  5. What was the worst babysitting experience you've had? What was it that made that experience so difficult for you?
  6. What kind of activities will you do with children this age?
  7. How do you handle problems that arise behaviorally and emotionally with kids this age?
  8. What is the proper way to redirect a child's behavior or discipline a child?
  9. What would you do if Jimmy (our 4-year-old) falls, skins his knee, and is bleeding and crying?
  10. Would you tell me how you manage getting three pre-schoolers ready for school (i.e., washing, dressing, feeding, etc.) and getting them to school on time?
  11. When would you call 911? When would you simply call the doctor?
  12. Under what circumstances is it ok to have your boyfriend over while you are babysitting?
  13. Under what circumstances is it ok to text while you are babysitting?
  14. Do you cook?  Are you willing to prepare meals for the children or for the family?
  15. Are you willing to do housekeeping?
  16. Do you have your own transportation?  Are you willing to transport our children to various activities?
  17. What education or training do you have that is job-relevant?  Would you be willing to attend child development classes or become CPR certified?
  18. Have you ever been convicted of or plead guilty or no contest to a felony or job-related misdemeanor?
  19. Would you be willing to sign authorizations for us to perform background checks on you?
  20. Are you authorized to work in the United States?
  21. What pay rate are you expecting?
  22. May I have a list of your references, please?
  23. Do you have any questions for us?

By forming well thought out answers to these questions, you will ensure that you are putting your best foot forward in your interview and maximizing your chances of landing the job!

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Questions to Ask of Your Prospective Employer-Family

Before the conclusion of most interviews, the interviewers will ask you if you have any questions to ask them.  It is a good idea to come to the interview prepared with questions to ask.  By asking well thought out questions, you communicate to your prospective employer-family that you are interested in the job and that you are intelligent and organized in the way that you are approaching this job opportunity.

Your questions should be focused on clarifying the job and its expectations.  Sample questions are as follows.

  1. Do your children have any activities that they particularly like/dislike?  If so, what?
  2. Are you wanting your children to be encouraged in the development of any particular skill or ability (i.e., developing their artistic abililty, learning a foreign language, etc.)?
  3. What makes your children feel most loved and valued?
  4. Are there any physical concerns or emotional sensitivies that I should be aware of?  For example, are there any allergies?  Is someone a tearful child while another is not?  Is anyone on medication that I would need to administer?  Does anyone have a special diet?
  5. Are there any behavior concerns that I should be aware of?  (i.e. biting, hitting, etc.)
  6. Do you have pets?  If so, would I have responsibility for attending to them?
  7. Do you want your babysitter to cook, housekeep, or transport the children?  If so, would you provide me with the specifics of your expectations, please?
  8. What method of discipline are your children used to?
  9. Would you tell me what you liked about your prior babysitters?
  10. Would you tell me what concerned you about your prior babysitters?
  11. You may also want to ask any clarifying questions based on the job descrption.  For example, "I see that I would be responsible for the children's meal preparation.  Which meals?  What are the typical foods the chldren eat for these meals?"

When you have asked all of your questions, ensure that you thank your interviewers for taking the time to answer your questions.

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When the Interview Is Over

When your interview is over, you are well advised to carry out a few follow-up tasks.

1.  If you promised, during your interview, that you would provide the prospective employer-family with some document or information, then you should provide the promised document or information as promptly as possible following the conclusion of the interview.  (Message to the prospective employer family:  you are responsible and punctual, and you keep your promises.)

2.  You should write a thank-you note or thank-you e-mail within 24 hours of the conclusion of your interview.  Use this thank-you note/e-mail to reiterate your interest in the job, how much you enjoyed meeting the family, and why you think you would be a good fit for the family.  (Message to the prospective employer-family: you are professionally polished.)

Once you have done these two things, then you need only to wait patiently for further information from the prospective employer-family.  If you have not heard from the family after a week or two, you may want to call or e-mail the family to inquire about the status of your application.   Again, you can use this call/e-mail as an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the job, how much you enjoyed meeting the family, and why you think you would be a good fit for the family.

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