Don’t like your school? Can’t handle your psychotic center manager? Don’t want to deal with that returning child and subsequent siblings? Summer time means two things in the early childhood world – time off or time to look for a new school.
I’ve shared about my own job searching journey, but I’ve been getting a lot of emails and phone calls from former co-workers and staff members.
“Mr. Gilbert? How are you? How’s the baby? I put you down as a reference.”
“Gilbert! Can you help me with these questions? By Sunday please!”
“Mr. Gilbert! Can you send me some interview questions to practice for? I don’t know where to start.”
For as long as I’ve been job searching, former staff members ask me for reference requests and recommendation letters. Over the years, there are questions that appear again and again, so much so that I could regurgitate a whole list. Rather than do that, I’ll give you the top five questions I’ve heard the most and the ones you should prepare for. They may help with your next interview.
What is your philosophy about working in early childhood education?
Hearing this question indicates you’re interviewing with a quality preschool. Professionals want to know what you think and what guides you, because those thoughts, feelings, and beliefs will guide your actions with children. Also, this is where your formal and informal education will come through. Whatever your thoughts and feelings may be about working with children, you need to able to verbalize and communicate your beliefs using early childhood terms.
What is your style of documentation and record keeping?
When you’re in the middle of the day and kids are enjoying free play, how are you taking observations? When I’m observing, I write down things on anything and everything I can. That’s fine. But there is also a method behind the madness. Plus, my observations are cleaned up and end up in the child’s file. What do you do?
How will you develop relationships with the student’s parents and family?
For most teachers, drop-off and pick-up are brief opportunities for communication. Besides parent/teacher conferences and, maybe, home visits, you need to think about how you communicate with parents. What forms of communication do you use? How do you communicate important dates and events? How do you share with parents what children are learning in the classroom? All of these are forms of communication that you should consider when answering this question.
If your teacher/assistant disagrees with you, how will you react to the situation?
Conflict happens in every work place and your interviewer wants to know if you handle the situation productively or WWE style. If you have had a difficult situation that turned our well, you’ll want to share it. Giving examples of successful negotiations not only gives you a blueprint on how to organize your answer, but your response also says you have experience handling conflict.
Give an example of when you had to work with a challenging child and what happened in the end.
Refrain from bad mouthing a child because, if you’ve had a difficult child, your emotions and response may intertwine. Rather, focus on the behavior itself, then share how you planned to change the behavior. How did you document the behavior and what other people were involved? How did you plan, what tools did you make, and what was the end result? If you don’t have experience working with a challenging behavior, then share what you would do if the situation arises.
Hope this list helps job searchers out there. Comment below and recommend interview questions we should know about.