The job interview is a critical step in your journey for a career in Early Childhood. It’s also possibly the most nerve-racking aspect, so it helps to come prepared. Practising child care interview questions before you arrive can boost your success and improve your confidence.

At Petit Early Learning Journey, we select Educators and team members who are genuinely passionate about caring for children. To create rich and meaningful learning environments for children, we seek to discover people who believe in our values, vision and child care philosophy.

For a successful child care career, Educators also need to have a good understanding of several topics including the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), as well as knowledge of contemporary pedagogy and how you might apply it in an early childhood environment.

To help you prepare for your child care job interview, we spoke to several of our Centre Directors about what they look for when hiring a new team member. We’ll also cover:

  • General child care interview questions and answers.
  • Examples of Early Years Learning Framework questions.
  • Answering experience-based questions.
  • Working in early childhood education and care.

Educator engages with children in the studio. When considering child care interview questions think about your experience.

What we look for in a child care interview

Job interviews provide an opportunity for Centre Directors to get to know whether you’re a good fit for their team. When you reach the interview stage, your application and resume have passed the first milestone, and it’s up to you to persuade us that you’re the one.

  • Cultural fit

While Petit ELJ centres share core values and a rich child care philosophy, each one has a unique culture influenced by its location and community. Some centres have families that speak multiple languages, so having a second language can sometimes be an advantage.

Present and future goals are important to Amber Cole, our Centre Director at Coffs Harbour in NSW. ‘We believe that this industry is one that requires passion, skill and dedication. Candidates who understand why they are applying and what their long and short term goals are, assist us in understanding whether this is the right position for them and whether our goals and requirements match what they are looking for as well.’

At our Barton centre in the ACT, Centre Director, Tenita Williams looks for a candidate with the right personality fit. ‘When hiring a new Educator, we like to look at whether their philosophy and practices align with Petit Early Learning Journey Barton. We also consider whether they complement our current team and children.’

  • Experience and knowledge

While finding the right cultural fit is essential, hiring for experience and expertise is also critical in the early childhood education and care industry. ‘I place importance on the applicant’s experience, good knowledge of practice and procedures in early childhood and the right attitude,’ says Rose Omenoba, Centre Director at Petit Early Learning Journey Clifton Hill in Victoria.

  • Qualities and key attributes

Other Centre Directors, like Sharon Nelson from Caloundra in Queensland, may focus on an applicant’s key attributes. Sharon also places importance on a candidate’s knowledge of the industry but lists the following qualities as essential:

  • Commitment
  • Enthusiasm
  • Ambition
  • Passion
  • Flexibility
  • Integrity
  • Creativity

Sharon also looks for a person who can demonstrate ‘A caring and positive attitude, whether they are a team player and have great communication skills.’

 Educator pushes two children on a swing. Demonstrating passion is a key attribute in child care interviews.

What questions are asked in a child care interview?

Expect a range of questions in a child care interview including general and experienced-based questions as well as questions on the National Quality Framework (NQF) and Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). Depending on the role, you may also need to know contemporary pedagogy.

General questions may cover such things as your experience and education. It’s often easy to talk about yourself, but if you have gaps in your resume, be prepared to fill in the blanks. General questions include:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why do you want to work with children?
  3. What do you know about Petit Early Learning Journey?
  4. What are your strengths?
  5. What do you find challenging in role?
  6. How do you build relationships?
  7. What are your long-term goals?
  8. What experience do you have working with children?
  9. What age groups do you prefer to work with?
  10. What’s your availability?
  11. Do you have professional references?
  12. What’s your greatest personal achievement?
  13. What type of work environment do you prefer?
  14. Why is there a gap in your employment?
  15. Do you have a current first aid certificate?

Two Educators discuss what questions are asked in a child care interview.

National Quality Framework interview questions for a child care job

When applying for a child care job, you may need a good understanding of the NQF and EYLF. If you’re going for an Educator role, you should also be familiar with Workplace Health & Safety and child protection regulations for your state.

‘We discuss all components of the NQF,’ says Amber. ‘Although our service philosophy brings us back to questions surrounding relationships with children and relationships with families. We might ask:

  • How would you go about building and maintaining positive relationships with children?
  • How do you develop a safe environment?
  • Share with us how you would go about building relationships with a new family.’

For Rose, NQF questions focus on education programmes and practices. ‘We want to discover their general understanding of the framework, but also what makes each quality area unique.’

Other possible questions include:

  • Why is the EYLF so important?
  • What are the seven quality areas of the NQF
  • What assessments should documentation cover?
  • How would you maximise play and learning in the outdoor environment?
  • How would you collaborate with other Educators to create meaningful relationships?
  • Why are routines important?
  • What does inclusion mean to you?
  • How would you apply the National Quality Standards (NQS) and the EYLF for educational programming?

An Educator shows a child a number applying the practices of the EYLF to her child care job.

Child care career experience-based questions

Experience is a major component of a successful child care career. Be prepared for a child care interview to inquire into your experience of working with children. If you’re new to the industry, you can reflect on your work experience for answers.

‘We ask for a basic rundown of their previous experience in the industry,’ says Tenita. ‘From there we choose questions that are relevant to their level of experience.’

Experience-based questions from our Centre Directors include:

  • Describe for us how you will build a team which will support, grow and inspire each other?
  • What strategies do you use for programming and documentation?
  • Tell me about a time when you inspired someone to make a change?

Child care interview questions can provide insight into how a candidate’s experiences have shaped their beliefs and values. ‘It allows us to see if their experiences drive their future goals and what they value within the industry,’ says Amber.

Other experience-based questions may require you to reflect on your day-to-day interactions with children and how you respond to specific circumstances. ‘I might ask about their interactions with children,’ says Rose. ‘What do you do if a child is crying?’

‘Their response shows me if they recognise why the child is crying, what has triggered it, as well as what they need to do to comfort the child. There are many reasons for a child to be crying such as hunger, tiredness, needing more attention or another child may have upset them.’

Other experience-based questions might include:

  • How would you resolve a complaint from an upset parent?
  • How do you resolve conflict when a child is playing with a toy that another child wants?
  • What steps would you take if a child was injured?
  • What would you do if a child bit another?
  • Describe a time when you have supported children to be environmentally responsible?
  • If a child was misbehaving, what would you do?
  • Describe a time when supported a child’s choice?
  • How would you promote healthy mealtimes?

A child care career involves supporting children’s choices and activities like placing pictures of food on a healthy-eating chart.

Tips for working in early childhood education and care

Being able to show you can work in a team, share information and collaborate with co-workers to extend your professional development is highly regarded in the early childhood and education industry. ‘We encourage all employees to support a positive team culture,” says Sharon.

When it comes to the interview process, Rose’s advice is to ‘Be open in your communications, be a good listener and take constructive feedback. Be positive and ask questions where required.’

First impressions are important. Be at the interview on time, dress appropriately and bring with you a positive, friendly manner. Tenita also recommends that you ‘Be flexible, up to date with your knowledge, and have a passion for the early childhood industry.’

Before applying, you should read through our website, in particular, our career pages but also the information on Petit Early Learning Journey’s values and beliefs.

‘Be yourself through the recruitment process and (if successful) within the probationary period.’ says Amber. ‘Our goal is to create a community of staff who are comfortable, genuine and align with our personal and professional goals.’

Educators smiling and having fun in early childhood education and care.

Why work for Petit Early Learning Journey

At Petit ELJ, our goal is to give children the best possible start to their education. Our teams create meaningful and profound experiences in enchanting environments that invite children and families to experience and develop a love for learning that will last a lifetime.

Our beliefs and values support a child’s choice, placing them first and acknowledging their ability to construct their own knowledge. We recognise contemporary pedagogies and support our teams’ collaboration and sharing of expertise.

Are you ready to start a new and exciting journey in your child care career?

Discover our career opportunities.