Top 10 Job Interview Tips for a Job Working with Children

Are you applying for a job working with children? Whether you’re a trainee starting out, a Diploma or an early childhood teacher, you’ll want to read my Top 10 Job interview tips for a job working with children.

Introduction

Do you love working with children? Have you thought about applying for a job working with children?  

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I have been working with children (and early childhood educators) for the past 20 years and during my time as a child care director and area manager, I have conducted many interviews, hiring trainees, diplomas, early childhood teachers and directors. 

In my experience, it seems clear within the first few minutes whether this applicant will be suitable for the position or not. 

There are key attributes I look for when hiring, and so I put together Ten Top tips and interview skills for anyone wanting to go for a position working with children.

job interview tips. working with children
Some basic research prior to your interview will help you gain a basic understanding of what your position entails and what your job description may be

Top 10 Job Interview Tips for a Job Working with Children

ONE – Be punctual!

If you will be working with young children in a long daycare or early learning centre, there are strict staff:child ratios that need to be adhered to. It is vital that educators turn up to work on time to ensure that ratios are not breached at particular, key times of the day. If you’re late to an interview, it certainly doesn’t leave a good first impression for your potential employer. An educator who shows they can turn up to a scheduled interview on time, or early, will have a much better chance than somebody who shows up late. 

TWO – Smile.

Even if you’re feeling a little anxious, which is normal during an interview process, a smile goes a long way, as does positive body language such as good eye contact, not fidgeting and sitting up straight. You’re potentially going to be working with children, and so having a friendly demeanour, and a smile upon your face, is essential when attempting to engage with young children for the first time. It also shows your interviewer that you’re happy to be there! 

THREE – Interview preparation

Bring your resume, any references, qualifications, certificates and evidence of training. You may have emailed these through prior to the interview, but it’s always helpful to bring copies along to your interview too. 

The University of Sydney have some great interview tips HERE1.

job interview tips
An educator who shows they can turn up to a scheduled interview on time, or early, will have a much better chance than somebody who shows up late. 

FOUR – Research and understand what the position is, and what it entails.

Some basic research prior to your interview will help you gain a basic understanding of what your position entails and what your job description may be, as well as salary expectations. This may include a job search (you can try Childcare Jobs5), researching job descriptions, taking a look at the company website or joining a Facebook group to connect with others in the industry, or in a similar position.

If you’re walking into an interview with absolutely no idea about what kind of position this is and what someone in that position will be expected to do, then you may be unprepared for the interview questions the hiring manager may ask, and if you do happen to be successful in gaining the position, but after one week on the job you decide this kind of work is not for you, you may be wasting your own time, as well as that of the interviewer and the employers.

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As an example, I have interviewed trainees before who seemed bubbly and enthusiastic about the role, and after hiring them and 2 days on the job in a toddler room, the trainee wanted to resign as she didn’t know she would need to learn to change nappies and clean bathrooms. A small amount of prior research into the role could have saved everyone’s time. 

Indeed2 have some examples of Childcare Interview Questions and Answers which you can read HERE2.

If you’re a bit more experienced, you could expect questions related to:

FIVE- Show interest and enthusiasm.

If you walk into the interview showing interest, passion and enthusiasm, your energy shows. It’s hard not to notice when someone really wants a position and shows they are interested, they’re listening enthusiastically and talking positively about why they want to be there and why you should hire them.

I’ve interviewed people before who look like they were forced to show up to the interview and where there was a huge lack of energy and passion. Someone who bounces in the room with a big smile on their face, and stories of how much they love working with children and why, will score big points with the interviewer and leave a good impression. 

SIX – Ask questions.

This shows interest! As I mentioned before, it’s important to do some basic research into what the position may look like, but an applicant who asks relevant questions shows they are not only interested, but it shows they are thinking about the job analytically and shows they do have a good understanding of what may be expected, based on their questions and queries. For example, asking about the licensing capacity of the centre, or about employment conditions, the educational program or about centre specific policies. 

Asking questions and being able to answer interview questions as well shows effective verbal communication skills which are also vital when working with young children. Aussie Childcare Network3 have some example interview questions for a job in childcare as well. You can read them HERE3.

job interview tips
Even if you’re feeling a little anxious, which is normal during an interview process, a smile goes a long way, as does positive body language

SEVEN – Be presentable.

I have had applicants turn up to job interviews with dirty clothes, smelling like cigarettes, and looking ‘messy’. It’s important when working with children (or any job) to have a basic level of hygiene and to turn up looking washed, dressed in clean clothes, and ideally not smelling of cigarettes. While an employer can’t really ask you NOT to smoke cigarettes in your own time, you won’t be able to smoke on premises, and it’s harmful for the health of young children to be breathing in cigarette smoke that may be lingering on your clothes and in your hair. Particularly when working with young babies! A job applicant who looks presentable and seems to have good hygiene will win points over somebody who doesn’t. 

EIGHT – Show confidence.

Even if you don’t feel confident. You can always fake it a little bit. It’s really about backing what you’re saying, speaking clearly and confidently, and answering questions with conviction. Having a shy or quiet personality is not a deal breaker, but showing a little confidence will help the interviewer to have confidence in you, and shows you may be ready for the challenge of working with children. 

Seek has some great tips for handling nerves in an interview4.

There’s no single, perfect fix to job interview nerves. Use whatever tactics or tricks work best for you. A little anxiety can be healthy, indicating you care about the outcome, and it’s the perfect opportunity for you to show prospective employers how and why you’re right for the job.”

seek.com.au/career-advice/article/how-to-handle-interview-anxiety4

NINE – Use your manners.

So simple yet underrated and so effective! Say please, smile, say sorry if necessary, maintain eye contact and say thank you! It’s important to teach children basic manners and courtesy too, as baseline social skills, so using these words and showing manners during your interview will definitely score you some points with the interviewer, and show that you’re ready to start teaching children about important social skills too. 

job interview tips, working with children
Even if you don’t feel confident. You can always fake it a little bit. It’s really about backing what you’re saying, speaking clearly and confidently, and answering questions with conviction.

TEN – Highlight and share what skills you have!

You may not think to share particular details about yourself, but as a director, I used to look for certain skills and talents in job applicants, who may be able to share these skills with the children and as part of the educational program.

These skills could be: 

  • Speaking a language other than English 
  • Playing a musical instrument 
  • A love of or talent in art or craft 
  • Singing or dancing 
  • Good cooking skills 
  • A talent for, or interest in gardening 
  • Good at sewing 
  • Love of or talent in a particular sport 

Any of these skills or talents can help to enhance an educational program and so sharing these details about yourself may be of great interest to the interviewer. 

When talking about yourself during an interview, it’s a way to get an insight into your personality and to determine if you’re suitable for the position. Don’t go into too much detail and don’t say too less. Share personal interests, hobbies, your strengths and qualities which makes you the ideal Educator for the job.”

aussiechildcarenetwork.com.au/articles/childcare-articles/childcare-interview-questions3

Summary 

There are many people who don’t like going to interviews, but unfortunately, it’s a necessary means to an end if you’re wanting to gain a position working with young children. 

Aside from the necessities of ensuring you have the appropriate qualifications for the position in which you are applying, hopefully these interview tips were helpful for you for your next job interview, and hopefully lead to interview success!

Working with children is a fabulously rewarding career, with many challenges, many hilarious moments and never a dull day! 

If you’re thinking about a new career working with children, my advice is to bring your energy, always be prepared for the unexpected, and enjoy it! 

Reference List:

  1. Interview tips, The University of Sydney. Accessed online at https://www.sydney.edu.au/careers/students/applying-for-jobs/interview-tips.html on May 1, 2023.
  2. 30 Child Care Interview Questions and Answers, Indeed. Published: March 22, 2023. Accessed online at https://au.indeed.com/career-advice/interviewing/child-care-interview-questions?aceid=&gclid=CjwKCAjwo7iiBhAEEiwAsIxQEe_YgXDP5q15_w7WgbGiBu80ZerkGt1EH5Q-c1NKWMcFdFvWj48e-xoCpgcQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds on May 1, 2023.
  3. Interview Questions For A Job In Childcare, Lorina, Aussie Childcare Network. Published: Jan 11, 2018. Accessed online at https://aussiechildcarenetwork.com.au/articles/childcare-articles/childcare-interview-questions on May 1, 2023.
  4. How to handle interview nerves, Seek. Accessed online at https://www.seek.com.au/career-advice/article/how-to-handle-interview-anxiety on May 1, 2023.
  5. Featured Early Childhood & Childcare Jobs in Australia, Childcare Jobs. Accessed online at https://www.childcarejobs.com.au/search/featured on May 1, 2023.

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