How to Interview Candidates
Guidelines based on type of interview:
Make sure to ask question about their experience, motivation, goals, and availability. Here are some examples:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are you interested in working at ____?
- What is your experience working with infants and toddlers?
- What is your prior experience teaching preschoolers?
- What responsibilities have you had in prior positions?
- What motivates you to want to work with children?
- What does “quality child care” or “quality early childhood education” mean to you?
- How would one of your supervisors describe you?
- Do you have any education in ECE? ECE units?
- Have you been trained in a particular ECE philosophy?
- Why did you leave your last role?
- Explain any lapses in employment or brief periods of employment.
- What would you hope to gain from this role?
- How much are you looking to make in this role?
- What is your career goal? (Where do you see yourself in 10 years?)
- If you are lacking education or experience, we will require you to do additional training on your own time. Training costs will be reimbursed after successful completion. Will you agree to that?
- Position requires written and photo documentation. Are you confident in your abilities to do so?
- What is the duration of your commute?
- Has past employer ever complained about your punctuality/attendance?
- What is your availability?
- Are you able to work all days and hours that my program is open?
- Part time?
- Do you have any questions for me?
We also recommend asking scenario question during the interview. Here are some examples:
- What do you do and what do you say when two 2 year olds want the same toy?
- There is an 7 month old on the floor. He sees a toy, reaches for it, and doesn't quite get it. He starts to fuss. What do you do and what do you say to the infant?
- It's time to go inside for lunch but a child doesn't want to go in. What do you do and say to the child?
- You are sitting on the floor with a child on your lap reading a book. There is one child on your lap and 3 playing in the room. You look over to the corner and one child bites another child. What would you do?
Why are scenario questions useful?
They help you better determine a candidate’s philosophy, practices and fit with your practice.
- You can also share what you would normally do in each situation hypothetically. You can comment on where you and the candidate are the same and where you diverge.
- You can mention that everyone's prior experiences lead them to their conclusions and practices, so there isn't necessarily a "wrong or right way to handle it" in a black and white way.
- It’s helpful to say that the reason why you do things a particular way
- For example, in a RIE program: “Because we are a RIE inspired program, we try to do things in a positive, respectful manner in keeping with the practices we've explained to parents when they enroll.”
Evelyn, one of the Wonderschool mentors noted that this is what she does in her program and how that impacts the type of people she hires:
“I train teachers by providing feedback when their guidance is different than what we normally do. Also I want to have a work culture where we grow, reflect/try new things, ask questions, and trade notes. So when teachers hear of new ideas / find a strategy that seems to work, I like it when we can discuss how to help children as a group and as individuals. So direct communication and reflexive practice are two things I value. I use this conversation to tell me how "growth oriented" they are and how they handle feedback. Also sometimes in the span of the three scenarios I can see applicants trying to modify their answers to be more in keeping with things I've mentioned. That's a super good sign!”
Ask yourself these questions. If the answers are "Yes," you have a good candidate.
- Do they seem professional?
- Do they have relevant experience?
- Do they have a genuine interest in children?
- Do they seem trustworthy?
- Do they seem confident?
- Are they articulate?
- Are they flexible?
- Are they easy to work with?
- Are they open to coaching and growing over time?
Conducting a Reference Check
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