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interview activity and test


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We've got interviews coming up soon, and I'm fairly happy with the questions we ask, as we improve them each time to get a better idea of the interviewee, including adding in "Do you have anything booked that could impact on being here?" (after someone taken on for maternity leave cover announced they'd booked a 2 week holiday in term time, thinking they wouldn't still be with us by then...!)


We ask the interviewees to come for a formal interviw (using the same questions for each interviewee so we can score them fairly) and a short activity, usually choosing, bringing and sharing a story with a small group of 3 year olds. When all the applicants said they were experienced with Makaton, we asked for a Makaton song to share with the children. The best interviewees are then asked back to spend about an hour with us so they see more of what we're like.


One of our staff said that at previous interviews, she had been expected to plan an activity and bring the resources to carry it out - does anyone else do that? If you did, would you give them your planning sheet to record it on or leave it open to them to record it in the way they felt most confident in?


We've had a display up for a while now of a map of the world and iconic images from home countries for our children which is very relevant for our families as nearly all our families think of another country as 'home'.


One of our staff who has been with us for 2 years looked at the map recently and said "Oh, is that where the UK is?" Another staff member was in casual conversation in which she was insistent that a seaside town about 20 miles away from our town was part of our town.


I'd therefore really like to give the interviewees a basic test at the interview with questions such as 'Many of our children have family in countries other than the UK, can you find Portugal, Poland, England on this map of the world?' 'Your key child's parent says they are moving soon to (nearby town) and asks if the child can still come to preschool - what would you suggest?'


Does that seem really patronising?


Only we do really need to know if staff have an idea of where places around the world are, so that if their key child goes home to Poland for Christmas, they know it is likely to be colder than in Suffolk, and if a family have only recently moved from Portugal, they're likely to find a Suffolk autumn colder than they're used to and need to know it will get colder, so don't put too many extra layers on yet. Equally, when a key child says "I went to (nearby seaside town) at the weekend, one needs to know how far it is to be able to talk about how they might have got there and what they might have done to be able to encourage the child's conversation.


We need to be able to say to a parent moving house 'Mm, we're going to be a bit far to get to from new house, let's ask the Families Information Service for some preschools near you,' or 'Actually, we're still a short bus ride away from new house and as there aren't many preschools nearer to new house, it's probably worth keeping child here for the rest of this term while applying for nursery at school near new house'.


I don't expect us all to know all the preschools in the area, but I do expect people to know where the UK is on a map of the world, and if somewhere is part of the town they've lived all their life in, or further away!

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Honestly, asking candidates to find countries on a map does sound quite patronising to me, but if this is an issue that is coming up often with your staff then I suppose it couldn't hurt! Perhaps you could ask them more open ended questions to get a sense of what their knowledge is like, for example "a new child is starting who has recently moved from *whatever place*, what sort of skills or knowledge do you think that you, as the key person, would need to have in order to support them effectively?"


And maybe add something into your induction process that talks about supporting children from other countries, giving a basic overview of which countries your current cohort is from and some very basic info about those places.



In terms of interview activities though, we ask candidates to plan an activity for a group of 3 or 4 children (giving them a bread outline of the level of development). Sometimes we ask for it to relate to a specific area, sometimes it is completely up to them to decide. If they want a specific resource then they bring It themselves, otherwise they are welcome to use nursery resources and we ask them to let us know what they would like to have ready the day before.

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I like that more than my idea :-)!


Absolutely, it does sound patronising! But it would never have occurred to me that a reasonably well-educated person with no declared additional needs would not be able to find her own country on a map of the world!

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Ha ha ha I'd defiantly not get hired! My geography skills are honestly at very best pathetic, one of my quirks people like to laugh at me for. I can spot the UK though :)


Going off in a different way, my favourite question is 'what do you know about our nursery'? It amazes me how many people do absolutely no research into a provision yet go for a job there, not even knowing the age range catered for or even opening hours.

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I always ask in interviews "tell me about an activity you've seen that you've thought is great ... it doesn't have to be one you've planned - it can be one you've watched on a video clip or in a group on placement" (then all candidates have a fair crack at answering it) Then I can ask them "What do you think the children were learning?" ... "What was the role of the adult?". This question works too for the youngest interviewees who have done babysitting or looking after cousins or siblings - What I'm looking for is 1) can they see that children are learning all the time and in different ways? 2) that adults don't just supervise 3) More experienced practitioners can then tell me about the EYFS areas and CoeL

Hope that helps


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