Top Ten Interview Tips
1. An ideal interview panel consists of 3 people all of whom have been and will remain
involved in the recruitment exercise from the planning stage, to shortlisting, through to
the appointment stage. The panel must remain the same for consistency and fairness.
2. Structure the interview around a set of key questions and decide in advance which are
the most important. Key questions include:
o How well does the candidate fit the person specification?
o Can the candidate do the work as it’s described in the job description
o Does the candidate demonstrate an understanding of safeguarding and its
importance at a level appropriate to his or her responsibilities?
o Does the candidate demonstrate appropriate motivations, values, and maturity such
that they are suitable to work with children?
3. Probe any outstanding issues or concerns. Are there any unexplained gaps in the
applicant’s work history? Have any concerns arisen from the referencing process? Are
there issues in the applicant’s self-disclosure that need discussion or clarification?
4. Each interviewer should independently give each candidate a score on each question
5. Compare notes afterwards with the other interviewers – always allow 10-15 minutes for
this discussion after each interview as responses will still be fresh in your mind
6. Be prepared to adjust your scoring to give extra marks for positive things which come
out of the interview which you had not previously considered. Also be prepared to take
into consideration more problematic responses other interviewers may have observed,
especially with regard to safeguarding issues.
7. Use open questions, e.g. how, when, why, where, who - these provoke more detailed
responses than questions which can be answered with a “yes” or “no” response
8. Include real-world scenario-based questions, for example: “What would you do if one
child bit another?” These can be very revealing and allows you to gauge how the
candidate thinks through potentially difficult or stressful situations where there may be
competing claims for their attention and action.
9. Give candidates the opportunity to highlight what they feel they can bring to the job
10. Always invite candidates to ask questions at the end of the interview
Other Selection Techniques
In addition to the formal interview, many settings are making good use of alternative selection
techniques. In the early years and childcare sector these alternatives typically involve asking to
applicant to engage in an activity with a group of children under observation. For example, a pre-
school setting might suggest a particular topic or learning outcome and ask the applicant to plan,
prepare, and lead an activity with a small group. An after school club might give the applicant a list
of topics the school was considering that term and ask him or her to plan a number of activities
that could extend the learning, be prepared to demonstrate one, and explain the importance of
linking activities in the after school club with what is happening at the school.
Depending upon the setting and the particular position being recruited, other alternative selection
tools include: role plays, presentations, sample lesson plans, group exercises, and written
exercises (administrative tasks for an administrator; sample child observation exercises for a
Playleader), When carrying out alternative selection techniques, it is important to determine in
advanced the criteria for success, much as one would with formal interview questions.
Observations should be noted in detail and scores assigned against criteria. While clearly many
such techniques are far less formal than an interview, they must still be consistent and
There are a number of advantages to making use of alternative selection techniques. First, such
techniques can reveal information that is simply not available in a formal interview such as how an
individual relates to children and works with others, his or her creativity, and his or her ability to
think on their feet. Secondly, some people are simply poor interviewers – the formal interview just
does not allow them to demonstrate their skills to the best advantage.