3 Important Steps of an Effective Interview

February 21, 2020

Everyone remembers their first interview, both as the interviewer and as the interviewee. There is something about interviews that makes them special and unique.

My first experience as an interviewee was at a local restaurant. I remember being very nervous, worried about what to wear, and honestly not knowing what I was going to say or if I would even get the job. 

One thing that makes interviews unique is the level of stress they cause an individual. As an employer, it's important to remember this level of stress and use it to your advantage. 

Healthline explains that stress happens to all of us and "our body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase your heart and breathing rates and ready your muscles to respond"

This is a great time to test them with a unique set of questions to see how they respond under high stress. As I'm sure you know, working with young children can be stressful, so it's a great test. 

Today I want to talk all about the interview process, how to best vet someone before they come for an in-person interview, questions to ask once you have them on-site, and when to move towards a working interview. 


Before you actually move straight to an in-person interview, ALWAYS conduct a phone interview first. You'd be surprised as to how much you learn about someone over the phone. This will save you a ton of time in the long run as well.

Here are a few questions I always ask over the phone:

  1. Tell me about yourself?
  2. Why are you looking for a new position?
  3. What is your dream job?

If you like the answers to these first few questions, you can go on to ask more, but often, I found they were enough to prompt small talk and help determine if you want to have them in for an in-person interview.

If after talking with them, you think they could be a good fit, ask if they would like to come in for an interview. Schedule this with them right there over the phone if you can. 

If you don't think this particular candidate would be a good fit, thank them for their time and mention that you will contact them if you would like to move forward.

Conducting a phone interview helps you get an idea of what they are like and prepares you for the on-site interview. It also saves you a significant amount of time because you can significantly cut down the number of in-person interviews you will need to schedule in.

In-Person Interview:

Once someone has passed the test of the phone interview, its time for the in-person interview. This is your standard sit down meeting, usually with the Director of the center and the interviewee. 

An in-person interview is a great time to see how they handle the stress of the interview and to dive in and get to know them at a deeper level. It is important to ask the right questions and to know what to look for in this meeting. I would advise having a list of interview questions in front of you to reference at any time.

Questions to Ask:

  1. Tell me more about yourself?
  2. What are your strengths?
  3. How do these strengths show up in the classroom?
  4. Tell me about your biggest weakness?
  5. How have you worked to overcome this?
  6. What aspects of your past employment qualify you for this job?
  7. Why do you want this job?
  8. Why are you interested in working for OUR center?
  9. What is your five-year plan?
  10. How could we as a center, help you grow professionally?
  11. Tell me about a time when you didn't get along with a team member, how did you handle it?
  12. Are you easy to work with?
  13. What is your ideal job?
  14. Why should we hire you?
  15. Do you have any questions?

Body Language:

Everyone knows body language is important, and honestly, it can tell you a lot about someone. This is very important to be aware of it in your interview. Flex jobs explains 12 body language mistakes to avoid in an interview. This is a great list to reference as an employer because it tells us what to look out for. 

Here are a few of my favorite:

  1. Slumping
  2. Wandering Eyes
  3. Shrugging
  4. Aggressive Body Language

As an employer, look for people who are comfortable in their skin and open. Arts explains in their blog that both eye contact and an upright position tells us that the person is open and confident in their ability and self.


Working Interview

Now that we have covered the pre-interview and in-person interview let's talk about a working interview. A working interview can be a great tool, but isn't always needed. 

I found that I would use them about 50% of the time. Honestly, it depends on how fast you need to hire and if you are on the fence about the candidate or not.

A working interview in the childcare field is a great way to see for yourself how the person interacts with children. Children are a great judge of character and can tell us so much more than we give them credit for.

If you feel the need to move toward a working interview, you can ask the candidate to stick around after the interview or schedule a time for them to come in at a later date. 

I advise scheduling a 45-min to 1-hour block for the candidate to be in the classroom, preferably with a teacher whom you trust and the age group they are applying for.

Here are a few things to look for:

  1. Do they initiate play or conversation with the children?
  2. When they engage with the children, are they down at their level?
  3. Do they look comfortable?
  4. Are they interacting with the teachers an appropriate amount?

Final Notes:

Once the working interview is complete, you should have a great idea if the candidate is right for your team. This can be an exciting time for both the center and the new team members! Remember, as you go along in this process that you are setting a tone throughout. 

The true onboarding starts at the phone interview. You set the culture and tone from that point and have all the power to build the team that you desire. Make sure that you are taking that time to do just that. 

I wish you all the best in the hiring process. I know as much as you how hard hiring can be.

Struggling to find quality employees? Check out our article - How You Can Find Top Quality Child Care Employees

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