If you want to have access to all great childcare jobs, you need to be ready to give a great interview. We spoke to our nanny, governor and governess recruitment managers and compiled these 10 tips to make sure you have the best shot at a successful job interview.
Before the interview:
1. Dress appropriately and make sure you are looking presentable
For an interview with a potential employer, it is sensible to dress as you would dress for your first day working in the position. This applies to both live interviews and Skype calls. If you are applying to work as a nanny or governor/governess for a wealthy family, be aware that during travel periods you will be seen as an extension, even an ambassador, of that family. You should therefore always make sure that you are clean and smell good, with fresh, ironed clothes (no holes, logos or statements as a general rule) and that you are dressed appropriately to the role. Use the interview as a chance to demonstrate your professionalism and presentability. If you are on a Skype call with a potential employer, do not be tempted to dress your top half properly and sit in your underwear for the bottom half, this will surely cause issues if you forget something and need to stand up part-way through the call!
2. Prepare supporting documents for the interview
One of the best ways to demonstrate your organisational skills is to bring along a small but smart folder to your interview. This can be done for both ‘live’ and Skype interviews. In the folder you can put photos related to your work experience, examples of arts and crafts you have made with charges, printed copies of your own qualifications and anything else you feel is suitable. This is an easy way to show the family what you have achieved in previous positions and to prove that you are a well-organised professional. You should always bring a pen and pad to interviews (or have one close by in a Skype interview). This is a good opportunity to take notes and to show the family that you are efficient and serious about the role.
3. Be ready to talk discuss your prior achievements
There are various questions in a job interview that are practically guaranteed. Such questions include: ‘What relevant experience do you have to this role?’ and ‘What qualifications make you suitable for this position?’ Make sure you have the answers to these key questions prepared and organised in your head. Remember to be concise in your reports and that your results are key when discussing your work experience; what did you achieve?
4. Know what it is that you want
It is a lot easier to get the results you are hoping to achieve from your job interview when you have already defined what it is you want for yourself first! Whether it be your schedule, your salary, your living arrangements or your holiday pay – think about what might be a deal breaker for you and avoid having to think about answers to such questions on the spot. Be aware that negotiating your terms is generally best done at the end of the interview – once the employer is interested or has decided they want to hire you, you can tell them what your own requirements are. At the interview:
5. Make sure you are on time!
This simple step cannot be emphasized enough. Many employers will immediately disregard candidates who are late for their very first meeting, undoing all the hard work you put into your application. It is much better to arrive thirty minutes early and to find a place to sit down to have a coffee and plan ahead than to be even a few minutes late. Bad traffic or getting lost is no excuse! If your interview is on Skype, make sure you test your wifi connection in advance – a poor connection or a call that has to be cancelled could cost you the job.
Again – this may seem an obvious point, but trust us; many candidates let themselves down by not coming across as capable or positive. Remember that every parent wants his or her child to be happy! Demonstrate that you will be a fun person for their child to be around and a pleasant member of the household staff for the family with a smile! This point also applies to phone interviews; you can hear that somebody is smiling even if you can’t see them. Be sure to keep your interview an enjoyable experience for both parties with a happy face – and brush your teeth too!
7. Remember people’s names
Everyone likes the sound of his or her own name. Indeed, your brain will even pick out someone saying your name even across a room at a busy party. Take advantage of this by using people’s names; not constantly through your interview; just once or twice to show the employer that you have good attention to detail. One of the best ways to remember someone’s name is to try to keep a memorable picture in your mind. For example, if the interviewer’s name is Doug, picture him with a spade on his head and you will be sure not to forget it! Another way of remembering names is to think of a friend who has the same name as your interviewer and imagine them together – or just write it down!
8. Be professional
Be sure to speak clearly and concisely in your interview. If you are interviewing for a position in a family whose native language is not English, it is a good idea to speak a little more slowly – of course they want to employ somebody they can understand! Keep your speech register high and avoid using slang and bad language in all circumstances. Sometimes candidates will feel relaxed enough to swear in their job interview; this invariably loses them the job immediately. Stay professional! At the end of your interview:
9. Ask questions
When you finish your interview, it is generally a good idea to ask a question. Even if you believe that everything you wanted to know has been covered, asking a question or two really does show that you have a genuine interest in the job and that you aren’t just keeping your options open. Try to think of a question that further demonstrates your skills or your high standards of work. Questions like: ‘Would the family like me to help out with schoolwork if necessary?’ or ‘Are there any additional house rules that I should be aware of?’ can show the employer that you are both careful and conscientious with a good work ethic.
10. Send a follow up message
After your interview, take the opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and keep yourself fresh in the employer’s mind by sending a short, polite follow up message. A simple email or text thanking the employer for their time and telling them they can feel free to contact you if there’s anything else they need is a nice touch to finish your interview that requires very little effort and always goes down well. Good luck!