how to: give a great interview

Interviews can be a bit daunting, can’t they? You really want the job and make a good impression but it can be hard not to become flustered under pressure. Solid preparation in advance will really help combat the butterflies. Here are our tips to help you have a happy experience.



Do prep for your interview. Make sure you know exactly what position you are applying for and which room they are recruiting for. If you know what age children they are looking to place you with, you can think of some activities appropriate for that age range beforehand.

Research the nursery setting and find out about its ethos, size, etc. in advance. Check out their Ofsted report. Do you know anyone who works there or used to? If so, ask them about what it’s like, what things are important to management and what could be improved. If the nursery is part of a chain, look at where their other nurseries are – you could mention this in your interview.

Read up on new thinking and developments in early years education and ensure these are reflected in your answers. You should be really familiar with health and safety standards and be up-to-date on current policies and regulations. Be aware of The Children’s Act and use and understand terms like staff-child ratios, floor space, inspections and parental roles, not only in your answers but in the kind of questions you’ll ask the interviewers too. You should be aware of – and able to discuss – concepts like the keyworker system, how to promote equal opportunities amongst the children, Ofsted inspections, foundation stage curriculum and early learning goals.


Dress appropriately

Dress smartly, but appropriately, for the position. Dark trousers, sensible shoes and a smart top would be a good bet. Nappy changes and messy play are all part of the average day, so think clean and practical, rather than more suited to a night out in the local wine bar. No jeans or trainers.


Take all of your relevant documents with you

Pop them into a file with your Current CV as this will look professional. You may also want to take any written references that you have gained or testimonials you may have received from children or parents.



Find out where the nursery is in advance, print out a map of its location from Google and plan your journey whether you’re driving or going by public transport. Don’t forget to check if there’s parking nearby if you’re taking a car. Allow plenty of time to get there. You may get flustered if you’re running late and you won’t have a positive interview. Try to arrive on time – not too early though as they may not be ready for you!


Think about questions

Why do you want the job? Your answer ought to be a good reflection of someone trustworthy, caring and responsible. The ideal interviewee should come across as flexible, organised and knowledgeable about current trends in early years education.

Go through the job spec and try to match its requirements to specific instances of your own experience that you can draw on when you’re in the interview and then prepare your responses to the questions below.

  • Why do you want to work with children?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
  • How would you encourage self-confidence and independence in the children?
  • How would you discipline a 3 year old?
  • What would you do if a parent complained their child was covered in paint after messy play?
  • How would you deal with a child who’d bumped their head?
  • How would plan inclusive activities that encourage inclusive, constructive play?
  • How would you approach making learning a fun, engaging experience?
  • How would you make sure that all the children in your care are safe and all necessary measures to maintain their safety are maintained and reviewed?
  • If a parent came to collect a child who you didn’t know, what would you do?
  • What is your understanding of the EYFS? Have you had experience in documenting a child’s development and doing observations?
  • Can you name the six areas of learning?
  • Who are Ofsted?
  • Do you have any experience in working with children with special needs?
  • What training courses have you attended? (Remember first aid, manual handling, music courses, and activity courses.) Is there any training that you would like to do in the future?
  • What are your best attributes or what can you offer the nursery? This is basically what you are best at in a team.
  • How can you work as a team?
  • What will you bring to the nursery?


Good luck and don’t forget to tell us how it went!