The best interview questions to help you find dreamy childcare staff

Have you ever found yourself searching for the best interview questions to ask? If you’ve answered YES, you’re not alone. Child care owners and directors often wonder and ask me during our coaching sessions:

What are the best interview questions to ask these days?

In this article, I want to reveal to you what I’ve found to be the best interview question and pinpoint a couple of areas where child care owners and directors are going wrong with the questions they do ask.

One of the biggest problems with interviewing and interview questions is that people can actually master the interview process. They learn how to answer questions so they’re seen in the most favorable light. I know I had the process nailed down and could get pretty much whatever job I interviewed for. I’ll save that full story for another article. But interviewing is a process that one can learn and master.

Job seekers can buy every book out there on interview questions and practice their responses until they’ve got it nailed down. Then child care owners and directors are left hiring the wrong people and scratching their heads when the DREAMY staff member who they just hired is not so DREAMY once the actual workday begins. Once the new staff member starts working for you, their actions simply don’t line up with the answers they gave you during their interview. It’s frustrating to say the least. I call this the “Imposter Syndrome” because you really just hired an imposter.

Another problem with the interview process is that the person who is doing the hiring is hiring from the mindset they operate from. This is why you just might see a pattern in the types of people who you hire. Perhaps you feel they all have the same issue, they all have the same type of needy tendencies, etc. The type of staff who you hire are the direct reflection of the state of mind you’re in when hiring. This is critically important to look at.

So for instance, if the person who is doing the hiring feels needy or desperate, they will probably hire needy and desperate people or people who simply pass the “mirror test” and can serve as a “live body” to fill a spot. This leads to huge, time-consuming, costly problems in a child care workplace.

Staff members have shared with me their lack of motivation when they feel like their leadership team will hire anyone. This causes existing staff members to think:

Why bother? Why should I work so hard to do a great job when they hire anyone here.

Just like with filling enrollments – you want to think of yourself as elite. Tough to get into – whether it’s for a job or to enroll – you’re elite and people should be lined up wanting to enroll in your child care program and work for you!!

Let’s talk about a few solutions and then I’ll reveal what I feel is one of the best interview questions you can begin to ask your potential new staff members.

Solution 1: When it comes to interviewing and the best questions to ask, think of the interview process as one that is meant to “derail the candidate’s thinking process.” Meaning get them into a thinking state where they don’t have scripted answers to the questions you ask. Big corporate entities are recognizing the value of this and asking totally off the wall interview questions to help them see who a person is before they make a hiring decision.

In a child care environment this could mean asking a job candidate to share with you how many times they’ve thrown a ball to a child or what their favorite childhood toy was and why. The most important thing you want to discover during the interview process is how people think. Questions that derail a typical practiced response are those that are incredibly valuable to ask. Also, when asking these questions, don’t be afraid of the silence. Ask the question and wait for a response.

Solution 2: Think of the interview process like a puzzle you’re trying to put together. The interview process is only a successful one once you really grasp who this person is.

So ask yourself:

  • Are there any gaps?
  • Are there any pieces of information missing?
  • Is there something I don’t get about this person?
  • How do I feel being in this person’s energy?
  • Am I making excuses for this person in any way, shape or form?
  • Has this person already let me down in one way or another?

Solution 3: With every staff member who turns over or that you have a problem with in you child care program, ask yourself and your leadership team one very important question. That question is:

What interview question could we have asked this employee BEFORE we hired her to help us identify that we would have this problem?

The interview process is one that should be alive and growing right alongside with your child care program. So when turnover happens and you feel like there’s a lesson to learn – take some time out and celebrate the opportunity to improve your hiring process and develop a few new questions to integrate into your process.

The best interview question that I can think to ask is one that you can consistently ask even after your potential new staff member transitions into your DREAMY staff member. It’s a question that I love to reflect on and tells me a lot about my potential new hire. Are you ready for my question? Okay, here it is:

How will your skills and abilities contribute to our vision?

There are variations of this question but the key thing you want to find out is:

1) Do they know what our vision is?

2) Will their skills and abilities be of value to bringing our vision to life?

The biggest problem here is that often child care owners and directors are not putting their visions out there in a big way. So if nobody knows what the vision is, you can’t possibly ask the most important interview question that exists!

But if your vision is out there and you and your staff bring it to life more and more each day – it’s a perfect question to ask because even if the job candidate has done minimal research on your child care program they should know what the vision is.

Julie Bartkus

About Julie Bartkus

Julie Bartkus is an internationally known Child Care Business Success mentor and author who helps child care owners and directors create their Positive, Productive and Profitable Child Care Businesses through her on-site customized programs, publications and her ground-breaking Child Care Program of Excellence Mentorship.  Julie is known for her personalized approach in helping her clients achieve the levels of success they desire including filling enrollments in record time, transforming your workplace culture and attracting & retaining DREAMY staff and clients. She is quickly able to access the problems you’re experiencing and help you gain clarity as to what your next, best steps are so you can experience results.  Your child care program is your baby. Julie meets you where you are and helps you take your personal and professional success to a whole new realm of possibilities. Grab a FREE copy of Julie’s magazine at

by Amanda Foran

Sep 12 17

From → Child Care, Featured

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