When preparing for an interview in a childcare centre either for an internship, casual or a full-time position, there are some things you need to do prior to the interview. Summarised in this article are a selection of useful tips on how to prepare for an interview for childcare jobs at a preschool or early childhood centre. This article will give you an idea of what to expect from the interview and will help you to find the most appropriate childcare centre to work in, the kind of questions to expect and how to prepare for them, questions to ask, the resume and work experience requirements, what to wear to the interview, first impressions, other paperwork requirements, etc.
Finding the right childcare centre
Different childcare centres have varying demands. In this respect, it is wise to select a child care centre where you feel comfortable. For some people, a childcare centre with hundreds of children is ideal for them while others prefer centres with a small child population. Regardless of your preferences, it is important to prepare a set of questions to ask during the interview. The questions you ask and the answers will help you determine whether a centre is right for you or not.
Preparing for the interview
While it is perfectly okay to feel nervous before an interview, it is not okay to be unprepared. First things first, make sure that you do your research about the childcare centre. Find out as much as you can online, or through local listings. Be ready to answer ‘why you want to work at this centre’. Next, read the job description carefully. Ensure that you are qualified for the position and that you have experience matching to suit. If you don’t have work experience in every area, try to think of personal situations where you have had to handle a similar responsibility. Practice. If speaking doesn’t come to you naturally, then it’s important to practice and even recite your answers. Try getting a friends or family member to role play with you so you can get familiar with answering the questions. Get them to throw a few random questions in to test how you will cope them. Finally, use examples in your answers. Try to think of a situation where you have successfully demonstrated your answer to the questions. I strongly advise thinking of these prior to the interview, so the memory doesn’t slip when put on the spot.
The CV (also know as a resume) is a document that outlines your work history, academic qualifications and personal information. The internet contains thousands upon thousands of resume templates for you to refer to. To find an example do a quick Google search or have a look here at our very own childcare interview template. Be sure to write in a clear and concise manner. It is important that you have no spelling or grammatical errors to avoid any reason for the reader to be discouraged. Start with a short summary about yourself and why you will be an ideal fit for the role. Then include your previous work experience and highest level of education. If you have worked as a babysitter in the past or are taking care of a young sibling, be sure to mention this on your CV. However, if you are applying for a traineeship position, it is not a must that you highlight your past work experiences.
Any experience is better than no experience. So pop down what you can. If you have had several childcare jobs before, there is no need to tell the employer about your summer casual job at Crazy Clarks. Finally in the reference section, put the names of two different people you have worked with in the past. If you have not worked before, you can use two people whom you have a professional relationship outside of your family. If you are applying for the entry level positions, do not worry about your non-existent work experience, as your potential future employer already knows that this could be your first job. As a last thought. Don’t lie on your CV. It is quite normal to exaggerate your achievements but do keep in mind that you will be expected to demonstrate your ability and knowledge.
Interview questions to expect
Interviewers use questions to gauge the suitability of candidates. Ordinarily, interviewers will question you on various aspects of your personal, professional and academic life. In this regard, expect to be asked questions relating to your experience working with children. Also, expect to be asked questions relating to your personal life such as “do you have a car?” If you are applying for a traineeship position, you will obviously get fewer questions than a person applying for a more permanent position. Normally, an interviewer will question you on why you want to complete your traineeship and how you manage your time.
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why do you want to work in childcare?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell us about your experience working with children.
- What age groups do you prefer to work with?
- Describe a time you resolved an issue with an unhappy parent.
- What’s the relationship between customer service and childcare?
- How would you help new parents feel that you’re providing the best care for their child?
- How do you handle misbehavior in the room?
- How would you discipline a child?
- Describe a time where you have experienced conflict with a colleague/parent and how you dealt with it.
- What would you do if children were fighting and got physical?
- How does the day of an infant in your classroom differ from the day of a toddler in your classroom?
- What do you find to be the most challenging thing about working with children?
- Have you feel about toilet training and changing nappies?
- Do you have any physical/mental issues that may impact your ability to do the role?
Regardless of the position, you are applying for, it is paramount that you familiarise yourself with the Early Years Learning Framework or EYLF and the National Quality Standards or NQS. It is good practice to refer to these whenever providing answers on paper.
Questions you should ask
Common courtesy dictates that an interviewer should give an interviewee time to ask questions of their own. That being said, it is important to know, which questions to ask. As already stated, you should ask questions to evaluate the suitability of the childcare centre. There are literally millions of questions you can ask; however, it is wise to limit yourself to only the most important. These are general questions on the centre as well as your responsibilities at the centre should you get the job. In some instances, you may be required to sign a contractual agreement. In such a scenario take some time to read the contract and seek clarification on any term or clause you do not understand.
What to wear and how to behave
Making a positive and lasting first impression on your future employer will be instrumental in you getting the job. Thus, it is important that you dress smartly and be polite to the interviewer. Dress pants/skirt and a blouse will be ideal. Avoid jeans, low cut tops and short skirts. When you meet the interviewer greet them in a polite and friendly manner. It is a good idea to positively comment on the centre; however, keep your comments simple. At the end of the interview, you might get a tour of the centre. During the tour, it is wise to smile and greet the staff members you meet. Furthermore, it is wise to briefly interact with the children. At the end of the interview, remember to thank the interviewer.
There is a possibility that you will be asked to undergo a police clearance check as well as a working with children check. These two checks can be done by filling out a form that your future employer will provide or doing so online. Both will assess your past history to ensure you are a reputable professional and that there have been no disturbing situations from your past. In some case, you may be required to undergo a full medical check-up and also provide immunization documents.
International students or migrants
If you are a foreign student or professional looking for work in an Australian childcare centre there is a few other details you will be required to provide. For starters, you may be required to provide documents to authenticate your previous qualifications. Secondly, depending on your status, you may be requested to provide information on your visa and passport. Similar to any other applicant you will be required to complete the working with children check. Depending on your visa category there may be further requirements. Also, as an international student or foreigner be sure to provide reference letters from some of the people you have worked with in the past. For details on what you should expect to get paid, refer to our guide on childcare wages in Australia.
At the end of the day, there are a ton of childcare centres out there and it may take several interview before you find the right job. Don’t be set back by this, as it’s completely normal to attend a few interviews before getting a role. Likewise, you don’t have to say yes to the first job that comes around.
You’re now ready to attend your interview! Remember to be confident in yourself and try to relax. Be polite and not be too stressed out as it is not a must for an interviewer to ask you all the questions highlighted above. Sometimes you will be surprised at how smooth the whole process is.