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Hi girls, I know you're good, but let's see if you can untangle this one for me!! We're currently advertising for a new assistant. We've had a reasonable amount of interest, and start interviewing today (me as chair and the preschool leader are the interviewers). There are two issues.


Firstly, the committee secretary is planning to apply. Obviously I know her, our kids play together, she's volunteered in the setting. Secondly, a close friend of mine is also applying, again our kids play together, etc. Both are parents too with their own children attending the setting.


There's no one else really on committee who could interview instead of me, due to others having young children that they have to bring along to meetings. I don't think we can really hold interviews with small children in the room.


I would hope that I can be fair when it comes to choosing, and obviously the leader will have the final say, but I do worry that there is a conflict of interest here.


In the past we've had a member of our EY team to help with interviews, but to be honest she wasn't hugely helpful. And also because we've had quite a few applicants, the interviews will be spread out before and after Xmas, so I don't imagine she could attend them all.


I'm wondering whether the solution is to do first interviews with everyone, and then narrow it down a bit and call best candidates in for a second interview (maybe with person from EY team there). What do you think?

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Could another member of staff be present?

Ensure that the secretary and your friend know you have to be professional. Are either of them qualified/experienced?

Also maybe have two rounds, second a practical interview so you can see how they interact with the children? Ask your pre school leader to lead the interview with the secretary and your friend.

Hope that helps!



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We had exactly the same situation earlier this year. Secretary and student who had been involved in the playgroup for years as a parent, volunteer and committee member. She is also one of my closest friends.


You just have to be very objective. We did as you're suggesting, the playleader and I held two interviews, one question and answers which we marked out of 3, bouncing comments off each other as to the answers and general comments of the applicants the other a reading activity to a group of children. The playleader was mostly involved in that one so she could watch the children as she knew them best.


We both knew there was a conflict of interest but to be honest it was easy at the end to choose. They both got a job with us which meant we had to turn down 10 others. I think though that because they knew the ethos of the group they fitted in better with what we expected to see. I suppose that could be seen by some as an unfair advantage but everyone is given the opportunity to be a volunteer or a committee member, its just that these two took it.


It was very scary, but you also have to remember that the secretary and your friend wont want to be given any leaway either, so much better to get a job on merit than by knowing the interviewer. My friend was adamant I tell her the truth and not just give it to her. Although I have to say I was mightly relieved after seeing the woeful display by the others. :o

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Hi Suize


I think you have received very good advice so far.


We have recently hired two new assistants and will be looking to hire again in the new year. Our process went something like this.


Preschool Staff

1. Advertise

2. Select based on hand written application.

3. Invite in during a session and ask them to

a ) run an activity,

b ) make an observation.


Chair & Staff

4. Meet to discuss applicants and select for interview.

5. Invite to a behavioural interview with chair, manager and supervisor.

6. Rank applicants without discussion and then rank again together.


I would recommend documenting the procedure and make the conflict of interest clear, but otherwise do not discriminate against your friends.





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I think if you have had many applicants, it would be better to shortlist using your job description and interviewing on one day, (or no more than2)say the 5-6 who meet the criteria, rather than trying to interview them all over several weeks.


Even though you may have had some difficulties with using your EY team, they would present a more objective view based on the criteria for selection, and that way if you did recruit one of your friends (or in fact, neither), you know the process has been completely fair. It would also be seen to be fair to those who are not known to you if they end up being unsuccessful.

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Thanks all, that's very helpful. And thanks to George for ignoring me saying 'girls'! whoops ...


We have had to spread them out because after Xmas we will be one member of staff down for a couple of weeks when we had hoped to interview.


I like the idea of an activity and observation, we will probably do that for a 2nd interview.


One of the people I mentioned is a qualified teacher looking to move into early years, the other person has no childcare qualifications. So effectively we can rule out one before interview.


Ironically we had our first interview today and the girl was great - she will definitely be shortlisted! In some ways I would like to employ someone who is a bit removed from the setting, it can all get a bit cosy and awkward when everyone knows everyone. Especially for my poor leader who has to tell these people what to do sometimes!


We do a points system which should be a good guide.

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