Hiring and managing a team is one of the most challenging parts of running a child care center. It can be even more difficult given that burnout is a huge issue and teachers are leaving the field altogether in search of better prospects. Quality talent becomes a commodity that is tough to find and keep.
Culture is a hot topic in child care right now and the interview is a great opportunity to set the foundation for a good working relationship that is mutually beneficial for you and your team. Here are 10 questions that will help you showcase your center’s personality and get to know your future teammate better.
1. Tell me more about yourself!
This is your standard ice breaker question for you to dig a little deeper and learn more about the person that you are interviewing. When asking this question be sure to notice not just what they are saying but how they’re presenting their story. If they’re going through their work experience, does it align with their resume. If there are certain aspects of their resume that you have questions about, like a sizeable gap of time between jobs, this is a great question to uncover why.
2. Why are you leaving your current position?
This is a key question to ask to give you an idea of why they are leaving their existing position and where they stand in their previous role. Were they leaving because they were looking for growth opportunity but didn’t find it? Was it a matter of toxic culture? Or, is it linked to a life change that they are going through like moving to a new city? Knowing where someone is coming from will give you an indicator of what they are looking for in a role and whether there is a good fit for them within your team. Take notes here too so that you can cross-check some details when calling up their references!
3. What is your teaching philosophy?
This question will give you insight into how the person you are interviewing will work on the floor. Are they partial to a particular pedagogy or are they open to blending different styles? Teaching philosophies usually reflect how a teacher will plan her lessons, organize her classroom, conduct her documentations and communicate with parents. This is also a good time to set the tone and talk about your center’s philosophy. Will there be training if they are hired or is it more a free form approach where each teacher has control over their own classroom? Setting clear expectations from the get go is important so that everyone is on the same page.
4. Tommy bit Katie. How would you handle the situation?
While asking questions that cover the bigger picture is important, getting a sense of how a person thinks on their feet is key when hiring preschool teachers. Being on the floor is not an easy task and understanding their thought process in a moment of distress is a great indicator of how they will approach stressful situations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that might seem uncomfortable. It is a good way to suss out the experience of the person that you are interviewing. What procedures are they used to when a child gets hurt? Are they up to date with their CPR certifications? Are they comfortable taking the lead or more inclined to follow someone else? You can get the answers to these questions by setting the stage with a likely incident.
5. What was your favorite part about your last job?
This question is to uncover the candidate’s strength as people usually love the things that they are good at on the job. Is she someone who is naturally a planner? Does she love getting dirty with the kiddos? Is she more of an administrator? Getting to know what kind of work the candidate enjoys is helpful to understand how they might fit into your team dynamic. You might even uncover a skill that is not stated on her resume like connecting with the community through social media. Getting to know a person’s broader skill set and how it fits into your organization’s goals could uncover a role that you didn’t think of in the hiring process!
6. What was your least favorite part about your last job?
This is a question that invites vulnerability. Getting to know both the positives and the negatives of their previous role will help you really get to know the person that you’re about to hire. This is also an opportunity to honest about where your team and organization is at as well. Do you need someone who has leadership qualities and can step up to the plate to take on more responsibility within the organization? Or, do you need someone to support your existing leadership team and be able to work well within a structured environment? Perhaps you need someone who is creative and can contribute to developing your curriculum? Asking about their least favorite part of the job can shine some light on the fit of the person and the role you are hiring for.
7. Where would you like to be in 3 years? How would this role support you in getting there?
Learning about a candidate’s long term goals is a great exercise to see if they are thinking about professional growth. The point of this question isn’t to get a black and white answer, but to get a sense of their ambition and vision for themselves. Some candidates might not have the answer for this and that’s fine! This question might be the spark that gets them thinking about their long term goals and professional development. In asking this, you can reflect on the opportunities that you are providing for growth within your organization and how much you are setting aside to invest in training. This is a question that delivers value on both sides!
8. How important is your relationship with your colleagues to you?
This question will help you get a sense of how the person thinks about their relationships. Are they more of an independent worker or do they love being part of a tight knit community? Relationships are the bedrock of childcare and building a positive culture is so dependent on how teachers work together as a team. How they respond to the question will give you a sense of whether they will fit in with your team. Ideally, you’d want someone who has the same thinking as your team members.
9. What do you do for fun?
This might be a bit of a curveball question for a work interview but having some personal insight into the person that you’re interviewing will set the tone for a workplace that cares. Taking some time from the interview to get to know the person will really make a statement about the kind of center that you are running. Sometimes, all it takes to find some common ground is simply asking genuine questions to get to know them better.
10. Do you have any questions for me?
Now that you’ve asked all the questions, create some space for the candidate to ask you questions about you and your organization. Take this opportunity to clarify any questions they might have. After some good conversation and getting to know them, this is a great opportunity to reinforce why your center is a good place to work at. In going through this process, it’s helpful to reflect on your core values and how you’re representing them. Are there areas that require more clarity? Questions that candidates bring will usually shine some light on areas of improvement.
Now, you don’t have to ask all these questions in every single interview. You are ultimately the best judge of which questions will lead to the answers that are important to you in the process. The key thing to remember about interviews is that finding the best fit is a two-way street. It can be tempting the fill up positions because you need them in the moment but thinking about each hire in a long term frame will pay off in the long run by lowering your attrition rate.
What are your interview tips? Are there any questions that we missed?
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