Interview advice

Make sure you go into your interviews confident that you will get the job - Voice is here to provide advice on the interview process after you have qualified to help you secure your first job.

Voice is here for our student members throughout their training as well as through the interview process to getting their first job.

Now that you have finished your studies, you’re probably looking for your first job – whether you are an early years practitioner, teacher or classroom assistant, you will have to think about those upcoming interview questions and how you will overcome them to get that perfect job. The interview process will focus on your application, training and experience, and you should bring specific examples, from your studies or work experience, to the interview and apply them to real life situations, as well as how you will implement what you have learned through university to the job that you are being interviewed for. If you haven’t finished your CV yet, click here to view our advice on writing your CV.

First impressions

First impressions are a vital part of the interview process. Dress smartly and be aware of your non-verbal communications, such as eye contact and hand gestures. You will get off to a brilliant start if you smile and shake the interviewer’s/interviewers’ hand(s) when you enter the room. If you are struggling to find an appropriate outfit for the day, why not take advantage of your Voice Rewards and get discounts on smart and formal wear.

The most important thing to discuss is why you want that position. Don’t forget, it’s very likely you’re not the only person who’s applying for the job, so you need to make your passion and interest shine:

  • what interests you about that specific workplace;
  • why you want to work there; and
  • most importantly, why you want to work with children/students.

All of these are vital questions you will need to ask yourself before attending any interview as they are at the heart of your chosen career. You will be responsible for the children under your care, so your interview needs to reflect this for you to stand out amongst the other candidates.

Impact

One massive factor to consider is the impact you will have on each individual child. Use your interview as an opportunity to discuss, for example, the implementation of IEPs (individualised education programmes) for children with specific needs and how you would use data and information about each individual child to construct individual plans for them to aid their learning. This not only shows that you can work with data, but also that you are able to accommodate the needs of each individual child under your care. Interviewers will understand that you won’t have much experience with IEPs while studying and on placements, but showing an interest in developing IEPs will demonstrate to the interviewer that you are interested in learning and developing your skills within the workplace.

Although the individual needs of each child are important, it is also vital that during your interview, you discuss how you will handle the children in your care. A quiet room isn’t necessarily a good thing, so discuss ways in which you would implement discussion and movement within your classes and education plan to maximize the learning of those in your class while minimizing distractions. You might think that as a newly qualified professional you may not have the skills and experience necessary to make you a strong candidate, but this isn’t true. Schools, nurseries etc will always need new staff and it is their role to develop you, so if you show an interest in developing your skills, it will make you stand out from the others. You can use this to your advantage by telling them what you have learned throughout your training and experiences, detailing the challenges you have faced, how you overcame them and how it impacted you. Also detail what you can offer to them, using this experience as a basis for learning and developing yourself. However, don’t make the mistake of using one year’s experience as the means to an end, as the employers will want you to draw on a sense of development and potential to learn.

Questions

You should also consider questioning your interviewer about how they got to the position they are in, and why they enjoy their job. Not only does this give you an insight into the place you may potentially be working, but it also shows that you have an interest in the workplace and your potential colleagues. Consider factors such as inspection reports, news on the school or nursery, their performance ratings and history before attending the interview. This will help you to get a better picture of the place and, in turn, the job that you are being interviewed for. Interviewers don’t expect a perfect candidate to apply for the job, but taking all the previous factors into account will help you present yourself to be as close to their specification as possible. If you’re given the opportunity, you should take a tour, see the place in action and hopefully talk to the employees who work there. This also shows that you are keen at getting to know your surroundings and potential new colleagues. It is also a great time to learn about the greater community within the workplace, such as any clubs hosted or CPD (continuing professional development) opportunities available. Taking an interest in these will impress the interviewer(s) too.

Contacts

Please feel free to contact us – either by email or call us on 01332 372337 (Monday – Friday, 09.00-17.00, excluding bank holidays) if you have any queries or need advice before an interview. Voice wishes you the best of luck with your future interviews.