Interview Tips for Providers


Important things to know and do before you begin your interview


Prepare a binder to use for interviews, as you may find it helpful to have the following information on-hand to show to parents:


  • copies of completed, current Police Records Check for all occupants of the home

  • copy of most-recent First Aid/CPR certificate

  • copies of written references (*remember to black out all identifying information to protect the privacy of your references)

  • copies of certificates/diplomas received for courses and workshops you’ve attended related to child care, nutrition, health, etc.

  • copy of your daily routine

  • copy of plan of activities and themes you plan or have planned for children

  • sample menu plans for meals and snacks

  • photos of crafts you have done with children

  • photos of children engaged in fun activities while in your care (*Make sure you have permission to take photos of children in your care, and permission to use the photos in your book or use photos from angles where the children cannot be identified.)

  • blank copy of Journal page to illustrate a method used for communication

  • copy of a Safety Checklist (to show parents what sorts of things the agency reviews)

  • anything else that can attest to your preparedness for running a day care from your home and your skills with children



TIP Organize your documents in the order in which you wish to discuss them.



  1. Check that all areas of your home are clean, safe, and inviting, as you are meeting a potential client.  Start at the entrance, and make your way through all areas you will show the family, in preparation for the interview.  Think “clutter-free” and “organized”.

  2. Check your own appearance.  You may dress more casually when caring for children during the day, but take this opportunity to dress up a little to present a good first impression.

  3. Have your play space ready.  Set out an age-appropriate activity for the child coming.

  4. When interviewing families, show your respect for them and their time by giving them, your undivided attention.  For example, turn off the TV, let the home phone and cell phone ring to voicemail, etc.

  5. Be confident.  Make eye contact, smile, and speak clearly.  Make sure you speak rather than have a family member speak for you, in order to develop a rapport with parents.


Greeting Parents at the Door:


  • treat them as you would guests!


  • Greet parents and child/ren, warmly with a smile; greet them by name

  • Introduce yourself and the other members of your family.

  • Make eye contact and speak directly to the child to acknowledge their presence and begin to establish a rapport.

  • Take their coats, and hang them up.


Give a Tour of the Areas in Your Home that You Will Use for Children in Care


  1. It is suggested to begin the interview with a tour of your home, which ends in the room in which you wish to conduct the interview (and where you will have an activity set up for the child).

  2. Show all areas of the home, including those you do not wish to use (such as basements, furnace rooms, storage areas, and bedrooms).  Tell parents which areas will be used for day care, and which will not.  Showing all of your home shows parents that you are open and honest, and that there are no illicit or illegal activities behind closed doors.

  3. The areas the children will use should be well-lit with natural light.  Keep drapes and blinds open.  Turn on lights in the evening, or on dull days.

  4. Parents are impressed by a tidy, child-friendly environment with books and toys that are within the children’s reach.  Keep it simple and neat with learning posters with ABCs or animals, crafts the children have made, and bright, colourful pictures, on the walls.

  5. It's a good idea, to post a menu, daily routine, activity plan, etc. at the entrance.  It can be posted simply, with magnets on the back of the entrance door or garage door, or presented, more formally, on a bulletin board.


Show where the children will do the following;


  • Sleep:  be sure that the sleep area is child-proofed

  • Have quiet time:  for older children during nap time, or for all children when quieting activities down.

  • Play areas for free play, crafts, reading, circle time, etc.


Conducting the Interview


  1. Show genuine interest in the children and families.  Get to know their likes, dislikes, pet’s names, etc.  During the interview, pay attention to the child as well as the parents.

  2. With babies - check with parents if child would be comfortable coming directly into your arms, or if they think it would be best for the child to warm up to you, first.

  3. Your preferences matter here, too.  If you prefer to wait until the child has warmed up to you before holding the child, explain that to parents.  If you like to hold the child, right away, check if parents think it is okay with the child, before reaching for him/her.

  4. Describe your years of experience with children – as a provider, mom, looking after children of family and friends, Sunday School Teacher, Brownie or Girl Guide Leader, parent volunteer at school or nursery school, etc. . . . volunteer positions with children count!  Even if you are just starting out as a day care provider you have experience with children.  You could say something like “Although I am new to the Agency, I am a mom, and I have provided care, privately, for friends and family members.  I have worked in the church Sunday School for 5 years.  I have volunteered at my children’s schools for 2 years.”, etc.  Speak about your skills with confidence.

  5. Speak about yourself from the perspective of what you do have to offer, rather than what you haven’t done or don’t do.

  6. Describe why you are staying home and why you are looking after children. Refrain from saying things like “I might as well” or “I have nothing to do at home” as these statements give the impression that you don’t do anything with your own children, and will result in them jumping to the conclusion that you won’t do anything with theirs, either!

  7. Show parents the contents of your interview binder and/or show a sample schedule/activity plan or your daily routine, and discuss your routines, including how you handle transition times.

  8. Remember that while the parents are interviewing you, you are also interviewing them to see if they are a good fit for your day care!




Discuss how you plan to communicate what happens during the day with parents (journal, phone calls, brief chat at end of day, text messages, emails, photos, etc.).


*Emphasize that all details about the child and family are kept confidential.



Indoor Activities


Discuss indoor activities, such as:




Math & Numbers

Free play

Arts & crafts



Other learning activities (include flashcards, felt boards, etc.)



Note: Parents have very mixed views on the use of television when their children are in care.  If you are aware of their views on television before the interview, keep this information in mind, to discuss at this time.


  1. Tell them special things that you do with the children.
  2. Tell them about your favourite activities to do with children.
  3. Ask about the child’s favourite indoor activities.


Outdoor Activities


  1. Describe when you will take the children outdoors and for how long.
  2. Describe places you will go outdoors:  backyard, park, local splash pad, etc.  Do you take field trips?  Where do you go?
  3. Tell them special things that you do with the children when outdoors:  bubbles, gardening, snow castles, sledding, picnics, etc.
  4. Ask about the child’s favourite outdoor activities.



Meals & Snacks


Discuss the following with parents:

  • types of food you offer for snacks and lunches
  • types of lunches and snacks the child eats at home
  • if the child is a picky eater,  strategies used at home
  • Do they need you to feed breakfast? *Breakfast is not included, however, sometimes parents find it difficult to get children to eat, before they go out the door, early in the morning.
  • What time will they need their child fed?  Do you have time to feed breakfast at the time they need?  Can a compromise be worked out, if you are meeting a school bus, at that time, for instance?
  • Offer one of these options that works best for you, if feeding breakfast is required:  they can bring a prepared breakfast or they can bring some groceries for you to use to provide breakfast.  What you choose depends on what works best for you and your schedule.


Things to Note:


  • If babies are on bottles of milk, parents provide bottles of milk.  Once a baby is on a cup and can drink whatever milk a provider has in the fridge, provider will provide milk for child.

  • If child is on special diet due to allergies or religious restrictions or cultural preferences, parents provide foods for lunches and snacks.  If child can eat whatever provider has in the fridge, provider provides food for child.
  •  When providing full-day care, you will be expected to provide lunch and two snacks.


TIP:  It is helpful to show parents a sample menu.


Sleep Time


  •  Ask what time the child naps and how many times per day?
  • Does he have a special toy/blanket/soother he uses at nap time?
  • Does he go down and fall asleep, right away, or does he cry himself to sleep?
  • Discipline
  • What method of discipline do parents use/plan to use?
  • Describe methods you use to manage children’s behaviours.


Other Things to Discuss


  1. Review hours and days of care required, to be sure that the parents’ needs fit in with your schedule and those of the other children in care.
  2.  Ages of other children who will be in your care when the family needs care (your own, Agency children, private children).  Be sure to show your respect of confidentiality by not disclosing names of children entrusted to your care.
  3. Tell parents when you plan appointments for yourself and your children (after work hours, on weekends, during work hours, etc.).
  4. Discuss options for alternate care you have arranged, if you must attend an appointment while the children are in care (your spouse, a neighbour, a friend, a relative).
  5. Ask parents about any upcoming holiday plans.
  6. Discuss upcoming holiday plans you may have.
  7. How long you have been with the Agency.



Sample Questions to ask Parents during an Interview


  1. What qualities are you looking for in a provider?
  2. Tell me about your home structure – are there other children/adults living in the home?
  3. Does your child have any special needs or preferences?
  4. Do you prefer a more-structured or less-structured environment?
  5. Has your child been in child care before? How long has your child been in child care?  Why did you leave your other child care provider?
  6. How long are you planning to use home day care?  Is your child on a waiting list for another child care facility?
  7. What are the drop-off and pick-up times you need for your child’s care?
  8. Tell me about your child’s habits, likes, and dislikes.  What sorts of activities does your child really enjoy?
  9. Infants:  How does your baby behave around new people?  What is his/her average day like?
  10. Preschoolers:  How does your child react to new people and to other children?
  11. School-age:  How does your child react to new people and to other children?  What does your child like and dislike about school?
  12. Infants & Preschoolers:  Is your child napping?  How many naps does your child have?
  13. Describe your child's eating habits.  What sorts of foods, drinks, meals, and snacks do you feed your child at home?  What foods do they like/dislike?
  14. Does your child have any known allergies?  Is your child on regular medication?
  15. What is your view regarding use of television when your child is in care?  How long is your child allowed to watch TV and/or play on the computer at home?
  16. (If you already service school-age children) I take the children out, twice a day, to meet a school bus/walk to school.  Are you okay with that?
  17. If child is in diapers:  What kind of diapers do you use for your child?
  18. If child is sleeping:  What is your child’s sleep routine?
  19. How do you comfort your child when upset?
  20. How do you handle your child when they misbehave?
  21. Are you comfortable communicating with me about whatever happens at home that may affect your child when in my care (i.e. lack of sleep, illnesses, family happenings, etc.)?
  22. Do you have any other preferences for your child, or things you would like me to know, that we may not have discussed?