Eleanor Patel, director of Bamboo Resourcing, offers top tips for impressing at interviews
Congratulations, you have been selected for an interview. How do you give yourself the best opportunity to succeed?
One of the biggest reasons for being unsuccessful in an interview is lack of preparation and attention to detail. A great phrase to remember is: ‘Fail to Prepare = Prepare to Fail’ so always Plan Prepare Perform.
In the childcare sector, interviews can often involve both a question and answer session and a work trial (sometime called a stay and play session). Therefore, it can require more preparation than a standard interview.
When you receive your confirmation of interview:
- Confirm your attendance by reply - this demonstrates you are keen and professional
- If you have any doubt or concerns about the interview, contact the relevant person to clarify.
- Check through the interview details and complete all paperwork/administration - don’t leave this until last minute as there may be documents that need printing or forms that are quite lengthy.
- Get someone else to read through your application form/documents.
- Leave enough time for the interview; check if the work trial is on the same day and how long is required.
Preparation for the interview:
- Check the journey - always factor in; public transport links, parking, planned roadworks
- Research the company, check websites, Ofsted reports, social media
- Read the job description and think of ways you can answer questions around the criteria
- Refresh yourself on any areas you feel that you may have weaknesses particularly industry specific:
- Think of examples of your good practice
- Collate any supporting evidence of activities, planning, certificates, awards
- Ask friends about questions they have been asked and practise your answers
- Practice question responses follow this link to our example interview questions http://www.bambooresourcing.co.uk/blog/1834-practice-questions-for-interviews-in-the-nursery-sector.html
- Prepare activities for a work trial, ensure the activity covers the EYFS. If you need resources, ask the nursery beforehand if you can have access to these
On the day of the interview:
- Check travel plans again for any disruption
- Aim to arrive 10 minutes early – if you are running late call in advance
- Wear smart clothing and appropriate for a work trial if required
- Avoid wearing excessive jewellery
- Bring all documentation requested
- Have prepared questions and bring a pad and paper
During the interview:
- Believe in yourself: Always remember the interviewer wants you to be the right person for the job,
- Introduce yourself with a smile and handshake
- Keep eye contact with the interviewer as much as possible
- Try and keep calm and relax. Here is a good article about relaxation techniques https://www.theguardian.com/careers/interview-help-nerves
- Listen to the questions in full, interrupting can come across as rude and you may answer incorrectly
- If you didn’t hear or understand the question, don’t be afraid to ask to repeat as interviewers can also make mistakes
- Take notes as this can help with post interview questions
- Send an email confirming your interest and thanking them for the opportunity
- Congratulate yourself for surviving
- Reward yourself: social activity, exercise, meal out
Is it OK to cancel an interview?
Yes, but be sure your reasons are justified and genuine. This will hopefully leave the door open to reschedule or apply for future opportunities. Never just fail to attend an interview. This can cause concern from the interviewer about your wellbeing - they have invested time and resources into arranging your interview and it will result in you looking unprofessional and unemployable. Bad impressions stick, and you never know when your perfect opportunity may arise with them again.
Post interview feedback:
If you are not successful don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. A good employer will provide constructive criticism to enable you to learn for your next interview.
Good luck and keep positive and professional at all times.