This article should give you a heads-up in preparing for an interview in a childcare centre for a traineeship, casual or a full-time position. This will give you guides on how to prepare for an interview in Childcare, Pre-school or any Early Childhood Settings, finding a suitable childcare centre to work, job interview questions you can be asked, resume and work experience requirements, questions you can ask, first impression, appearance & what to wear, other paper works required and more.
Finding a Suitable Childcare Centre
While working in a childcare centre, it's important to find one that you feel comfortable in and will best suit your needs and expectations. Depending on your likes, this could mean working in a child care centre with 100 children or it could be working in a small child care centre with 40 children. No matter what you prefer, it's important to be prepared during your job interview, to ask all the necessary information in order to determine if the centre is right for you.
Preparing for the Interview
The best way of dealing with an interview is being prepared. For some people, this can be a nerve wrecking experience but as long as you are prepared you will be fine. Below are a few hints and tips that you can use when preparing for your job interview.
You will need to have a resume to show your employer during the interview. Your resume basically has information about your past work history, work experiences, study qualifications etc. If you need help in preparing your resume, simply google it and you can find a lot of templates that you can use. On your resume you will also need to include two references. The references on your resume should be two different people you have worked with in previous jobs or if you haven't worked before they could be people you did work experience with.
When going for a certificate 3 traineeship your employer is already aware that this may be your first job, so even if your resume doesn't show any work history, don't worry too much about it.
As mentioned above, you will need to provide your employer with details of any experiences you may have had in the past. If you have done babysitting for family and friends you should definitely mention it, if you have a younger sibling that you take care of, let the employer know.
If you are applying for a traineeship and you haven't had any experiences working with children, it doesn't matter; the employer understands that this is for a child care traineeship.
Questions you can be asked in the interview
Like all job interviews your employer will ask you questions in order to get a sense of your character and to see whether or not you will be suitable working at their centre. These can include:
- Have you worked with children before?
- Do you have any experiences with children?
- What has been your most challenging work experience that you dealt with?
- Have you had any previous jobs?
- Reason for leaving your previous jobs?
- Tell me about your last position...
- Do you have any references we can contact?
- Do you drive a car?
- How will you get to work?
- If you have any piercing or extra jewellery (the employer may ask you if you intend to wear it during your shift)
- Do you have any medical conditions that they should be aware of?
- Are you prepared to work a 38hr per week roster?
- How will you manage your time between work and study?
- Why do you want to complete a traineeship?
- What skills do you bring to this organisation?
- Why are you the best person for this job?
- Why do you want this position?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Give an example of when you dealt with a difficult situation successfully?
- Have you been involved in the accreditation process?
For a Diploma position you may also be asked scenario based question in order to see how well you handle certain situations. Scenario questions can be based on the following:
- Team Work
- Effective Communication
- Programming and Planning
- Dealing With Children, Parents and Staff
Whether you are being interviewed for a position as a casual, traineeship, part time, full time, Diploma etc. it's important that you are up to date with your current knowledge of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and the National Quality Standards(NQS).
The above questions may or may not be asked during your interview. In some job interviews it is fairly relaxed where you will be mostly chit chatting and in others it will be more formal. It depends on the child care centre and the person giving the interview.
Questions to Ask in an interview
During the interview you also have a right to ask questions to help you decide whether or not the childcare centre is suitable for you. These can include:
- How long will my lunch break be?
- Will I be able to leave the centre during my lunch break?
- Do I need to sign a contract?
- Will a uniform be provided?
- What will my duties be?
- How many childcare workers in one room?
- How many sick days will I be entitled to?
- What will be my weekly roster?
- How long will my probation period last?
- Do you offer free Professional Development workshops I can attend?
- Do you pay for my first aid renewal?
- Which room will I work in?
- During the week, while studying my traineeship, will I get time to complete assignments at work? (for traineeship)
- Will I need to pay any fee for my traineeship (enrolment fee etc). (for traineeship)
- What happens during the traineeship, if something unexpected happens and I have to leave the centre? What happens with my traineeship? (for traineeship)
It probably seems like a lot of questions to ask but these questions will help you decide on finding a suitable childcare centre that you will be happy with. Just a heads up, if you do need to sign a contract with the childcare centre, take a few minutes to read through it before you sign it. While reading it, if you don't understand it, simply ask your employer. They will be more than happy to explain it to you.
First Impression / Appearance
It's important to make your first impression a memorable one. There will be others going for the same job interview as you and you definitely want to have the edge over the others in order for you to get the job. Here are a few hints and tips to make your first impression last.
- Dress smartly: Even though it may be only an interview in a child care centre, it's important to be smartly dressed. Your appearance says a lot about you and the employer may take it into consideration. Try not to wear anything too revealing. You are not there to show off your body. Just think of what you would wear if you were working in an office...also it's not necessary to wear excessive jewelry and cover up any tattoos or body piercings, if possible.
- Greeting & Meeting: When meeting your future employer it's important to greet them in a friendly manner. Now I know this may be simple logic but let me assure you I have had some interesting greetings over the times...from a nod to a wave...so here is the professional way. Simply make eye contact, smile and shake hands. Be polite and confident, your employer will definitely notice it.
- Make a nice comment: It's always a great first impression by commenting on the centre. Now when doing this, you don't need to overdo it, just a simple comment. For example, “I like the way the rooms are set up” etc. This will show your employer you’re interested in the centre. Make sure you mean the comment, or at least be convincing. Don’t try too hard like “OH MY GOD! What a room..wow..awesome..blah blah blah”. You don’t want to scare them thinking you are a weirdo. Just be you…
- The walk through: At the end of your interview you would most likely go on a walk through the centre. This is to give you an idea of what the centre looks like, a chance to meet the other childcare workers and to show you where you would be working etc. During the walk through you will probably meet other staff, so be polite and smile. It's also a good idea to interact with the children. Just a simple “hello, what's your name” to one of the children, will count as a good first impression.
- At the end of the interview: Once the interview is over make sure you thank the employer for seeing you and that you look forward in hearing from them soon. If you are successful, they will most likely let you know by the end of the interview. However in some child care centers, they prefer to make a decision and let you know in a couple of day’s time.
Other Paper Works
Just a heads up on other important things you should be aware of - you may have to undergo a police clearance check and working with children check. For these two, all you have to do is fill out a form and the employer does the rest. You will also need to provide details of any immunization records. At some centres (not all), you may also need to do a full health check-up. Your employer will inform you of the necessary paperwork you will need to produce.
For International Students / Migrants
For those of you who have just come from overseas and have recently decided to pursue a career in Childcare in Australia, below are some helpful hints to remember:
- You may be required to show evidence of completing your previous qualifications. If the documents are not in English, make sure you are prepared with a translated and an attested copy.
- Depending on your circumstances, you may also be asked to show visa status or passport information.
- You should also have a "work permit" in order to work in Australia. This is generally mentioned in your Visa status.
- All childcare workers must complete a Declaration of Prohibited Employment or a Working with Children Check before commencing work in a centre (regardless if you are from overseas or local, this is mandatory).
- In some cases, it is hard for employers to confirm the credibility of an international applicant since you might not have worked in Australia before. So try to get good reference letters from various employers you have worked with in the past. Try to get as much supportive documents you can gather that proves your experience and qualifications.
- Also, please note that there could be further conditions for the international students / migrants depending on your Visa category and also your country of origin. So, I would recommend all international students / migrants to contact the Department of Immigration, Australia, for more information.
I hope this article gives you a better understanding on how to prepare for a job interview in a child care centre. This information will give you the confidence you need, when going for a job interview. Just remember to be polite, smile and be confident. Try not to stress-out too much. I covered all of the above points just to prepare you. You don’t need to panic thinking your employer will be asking all of the above questions or you need to ask all those questions. Like I said before, sometimes the interview process can be so easy and simple. So wish you all the best… you will be fine..