TIPS ON PREPARING FOR YOUR NURSERY INTERVIEW

You’ve applied for the perfect nursery position and have been invited to attend an interview. Everything is going to plan and yet you’re apprehensive that you’ll stumble at the last hurdle. It’s normal to have some nerves at this stage – it shows you are keen.  However, you want to turn up ready and able to show your best.  
Here are some tips to help you on your way:


PREPARE

  • Research the setting.  Their website, any available literature and online OFSTED Inspection Reports are all good sources of information.   Inspection Reports can provide valuable data on how the nursery operates.
  • Know the job role. Examine the Job Advert and understand what the nursery is looking for in their new recruit. If you know the age range of the children you will be working with, be prepared to discuss suitable activities appropriate for the age range.  Scrutinise the Job Description if it’s available; this will outline Key Duties, Responsibilities and Person Specification. Many interviewers will have a checklist to tick off against requirements.   It’s your task in the interview to ensure you’re ticked against those boxes.


CREATE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION

  • Aim to arrive early. Ten minutes prior to the start of the interview is recommended. This shows you are reliable and gives you time to relax. Google maps is an excellent resource to outline routes available for journeys.  If you’ve worried about arriving at the location on time, do a trial run beforehand. 
  • Dress appropriately. It’s always best to attend interview smartly dressed (dark trousers and smart top) to create a professional appearance. If there will be a play session, ensure you’re wearing comfortable shoes. Wellingtons or boots may be handy for outdoor play on wet days. Pay attention to scents - nothing too overpowering. Coffee and cigarette odour can be strong and create a negative impression. 
  • Be friendly and polite to all people you are in contact with. People often talk and you’ll want to show that you’re a nice person to everyone. You may be working with them in a few weeks! If part of the interview is a play session, remember to interact well with both play workers and children.
  • Greet your interviewers with a warm smile and firm handshake whilst maintaining eye contact.
  • Bring along required paperwork a copy of your Profile, qualifications and anything else required. Present those smartly for easy viewing.
  • Switch your phone to silent. You don’t want to be fumbling with your phone during interview.


LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE

Interviewers expect the candidate to have some nerves – you’re human. However, try to relax as much as possible to ensure your personality shines through.  Childcare professionals should have excellent communication skills – verbal, non-verbal (body language) and listening. You need to show you are warm, approachable, enthusiastic and fun.   The interview is your chance to prove you have the right personality for the job.


PREPARE YOUR ANSWERS

The purpose of the interview is for the company to learn more about you - how you interact and your knowledge and understanding of the Childcare profession. This is your opportunity to expand on your Candidate Profile. Questions are usually ‘open’ and those require a detailed response; not just a “yes” or “no” answer. Remember to be honest and positive during interview. Speaking critically of former employers or children can give the interviewer a negative impression of you.  Prior to interview, consider your responses for some of the common interview questions. Here are a few interview questions you can work on beforehand:

Childcare Related Questions:

  • You say you’re knowledgeable on EYFS, can you please tell me about it? What is your experience of this? 
  • What can you tell me about OFSTED? 
  • Why did you decide to work with children? 
  • Do you have a specific age group you prefer to work with? 
  • What do you like and dislike about working with children? 
  • How do you manage a child’s challenging behaviour? 
  • How do you develop a child’s language skills? 
  • What is the difference between an accident and an incident? 
  • What do you know about Child Protection Issues? 
  • Do you have experience of working with children with Additional Support Needs? 
  • Can you give me an example of an activity for the Baby Room? 
  • How would you set out the activity? 
  • How do you work on a child’s next steps? 
  • What is your awareness of Childcare ratios?

Basic Interview Questions:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why should we employ you?
  • Tell me your proudest achievement to date?
  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What attracted you to this position?
  • Can you tell me about a challenging situation and how you overcame it?
  • How do you spend your spare time?
  • Do you have any questions?


ASK QUESTIONS

You will often be asked if you have any questions. If not, it’s still best to ask any pressing questions or for clarity on issues you’re unclear of. An interview is a two-way process with the interviewee deciding if the role is right for them. Here are a few common questions you could ask:

  • How many children do you care for in each room? What is the breakdown and ratios?
  • What further training do you offer?
  • Are there areas for career progression within the nursery?
  • You mentioned earlier that (something you need clarity on), could you please explain this in more detail? 
  • How do you communicate with parents, other than the daily handovers?
  • I read your OFSTED report. I am interested in (insert topic here) could you tell me a little more about this?
  • When will you inform me of your decision with regards to the role?


A FRIENDLY DEPARTURE

When the interview comes to a close, ensure you thank all interviewers for their time, bid them a nice day and again shake hands.


Congratulations, you have come to the end of the interview and hopefully the next step of your career progression!