In most industries, the interviewer is able to ask a potential candidate a standard list of questions about their experience that will provide a glimpse into who they might be as an employee. However, in industries like childcare, the interviewing model must shift to encompass a wider range of insights in order to understand not only how the candidate may be as an employee, but also who they are as a person.
Why is Fit Important?
Working with children involves a skill set and personality type that is deeply rooted in positivity, patience, preparation, organization, leadership, and quick decision making. But, most of all, your values and your culture—which is arguably the number one skill for childcare professionals. Your new team member’s fit is critical to how your team works and operates. Even if your team has great skills, if they don’t fit well, they will not support one another. A culture full of individuals serving themselves, though highly talented, could be the demise of your organization, due to the level of management of personalities and behaviors your staff may exhibit.
Other Important Skills
Second to fit, is ability to respond on their feet, in a highly compassionate way to the child(ren), family members as well as other staff members. A well-equipped professional should be able to be prepared for the unexpected and be able to effectively handle any situation, even if they’ve never experienced it before. This level of preparation and decision making helps to ensure that the children remain safe and content, that the facility does not receive any complaints or negative reports, and that the staff do not become involved in any legal disputes that may damage their or the facility’s reputation due to a wrong decision made in the moment.
To understand how someone thinks, reacts, and leads, it is best to interview them using scenario-based questions. In a question-and-answer-based interview, you could meet professional interviewers: those who interview well; but lack in performance. Using scenarios that have actually happened at some point within your facility will help you to understand whether or not the candidate has the skills that would be necessary to succeed in your facility.
Putting it in Practice
For instance, you just came in for your shift. You are the only teacher in the room and a woman walks in that you don’t know, calmly grabs hold of a toddler, lifts him up and starts to head to the door. You’re in a room full of kids, what do you do? Asking scenario-based questions will highlight their quick-decision making skills, but the quality and detail of the answer will also demonstrate the candidate’s strength in preparation, organization, patience, and more. Understanding if they meet your center’s values and they are fit into your culture will ensure they become part of your amazing team and culture. A resume will tell you a lot about a candidate’s experience, but tells you nothing about their ability to fit and perform under pressure.
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