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An Employer’s Guide to Interviews

Every recruiter wants to employ the right person; that’s a no-brainer. But when, rather than inventory lists and spreadsheets, your employees have the wellbeing of tiny humans in their hands, making the right choice is even more important.

Whether you’ve interviewed hundreds of people before or are approaching your first one, TNL are here to help you make sure you find the right candidate.

Know what you want at the start of the process

To begin with, make sure you know what you need. While they may tick all their qualification boxes and be good with children, what else do you want this person to bring to your childcare setting? Do you need a creative thinker to come up with new ideas for activities and lessons, or do you need more organisation than the last person in the role? Make a list of qualities for the perfect candidate and separate them into essential, desirable and ideal. These will help inform your job advert and, if you’re stuck between two candidates at the decision-making stage, will really help. A surprising number of hiring managers do not have a clear idea of the employee they want before wading into the recruitment process.

Photo by Burst from Pexels

When looking through CVs, you need to be eagle-eyed. Make sure candidates’ work history is consistent and list any questions you may have for the interview. Don’t be afraid of being ruthless – if a CV doesn’t impress you, move on. However, don’t ignore your gut feeling; if a CV isn’t quite there but you feel like there’s something in there, invite them to interview! You know your EY setting, and who would fit in, best. You never know, some people just come across better in person. Additionally, avoid making assumptions; we’re all guilty of some ingrained stereotyping but you can overcome this by being aware and checking your reasons when making decisions.

Give it time: sensible scheduling helps the best candidate emerge

At the interview-booking stage, ensure you have enough time between candidates. The last thing you want is to overrun, have no time to make notes and then forget a potentially brilliant candidate while interviewing another. You also want to make sure the interviews are long enough. Personality is incredibly important when recruiting for Early Years positions and you may hit it off with someone, think of more questions to ask, or need more information on a certain topic, so the last thing you want is to run out of time. Make sure you let the candidates know how long the interview may take but give a time window (e.g. 30 minutes to an hour) so people don’t panic if they leave an intended hour-long interview after only half that time!

Don’t be afraid to challenge candidates

During the interview don’t be afraid to challenge candidates with your questions. We all know that in an Early Years setting you need to be able to think on your feet, so make sure your candidates can cope with being put on the spot (within reason!). This is your perfect opportunity to assess their problem-solving skills and make sure you know what their attitude is towards a tricky situation – both essential in selecting the right person.

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Listen, don’t just nod!

While you’re talking, listen to carefully to candidates. Ask as many follow-up questions as needed until you’re satisfied you have a full understanding of their answers and just don’t fall back on classic, clichéd questions like ‘What are your biggest strengths’ (although these can also be very useful!). Often it’s easy to get into a pattern of box-ticking and nodding along, but by engaging in a proper conversation and listening carefully, you will identify the positive traits and the red flags in your candidate’s responses all the more easily.

All-in-all, recruitment can swing wildly between the excitement of meeting amazing people and the tedium and disappointment when a candidate is just not quite what you’re looking for. Using TNL jobs and guides like this, however, will ensure only the best talent get through your vetting process, allowing you to find the perfect candidate.