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Top interview questions for daycare teachers

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Hiring is easy with these key interview questions for daycare teachers

Hiring the right daycare teachers is one of the most important decisions for childcare center directors. After all, your early childhood educators play a critical role in shaping the experience families have with your childcare center. Daycare teachers lay the foundation for the future success of your students. Plus, great teachers keep families coming back year after year.

We all know finding quality daycare teachers can be a challenge—but that doesn’t mean you should lower your expectations when hiring. A thoughtful interview process will help you identify candidates who not only have the right experience, but are also a cultural fit for your center. 

Keep reading for our list of smart interview questions for daycare teachers. These questions cover experience, teaching philosophy, classroom management strategies, and more. Along the way, key insights will be revealed to help you make your decision.

Don't forget: Tailor these questions to the age group you're hiring for. What's appropriate to ask a preschool teacher candidate will differ from questions for a teacher focused on infant care.

Interview questions for daycare teachers by category

1. Experience and safety interview questions

Experience questions cover a candidate's relevant daycare experience and explore their strengths and weaknesses in common situations. Open-ended questions can tell about their background, the extent of their daycare experience, and whether they have expertise with the age group you're hiring for. Safety and training requirements should be covered to confirm the candidate has the proper qualifications. 

  • Tell me about your work history in early childhood education. What ages have you worked with? 
  • Describe a specific accomplishment in your previous daycare role you are proud of.
  • Please outline your safety and training certifications. 

What to look for in an answer: Your teacher candidate should respond confidently, with experience that matches what’s shown on their resume (be sure to have a copy handy). Listen for experience with the age group you’re hiring for. Or, the candidate should be able to explain how any relevant experience applies to the position.

Overall, you want your candidate to use positive words and phrases to describe their experience. They should demonstrate passion, know-how, and warmth. A candidate should be able to recall at least one accomplishment they are proud of—and it show go above and beyond what's expected, not be a standard part of the job description. Of course, make sure any required trainings are up-to-date. 

2. Childcare philosophy interview questions

Philosophy questions explore how a candidate's understanding  of child development will translate to their work—including classroom practices, teaching style, and more. In many cases, you'll be able to train daycare teachers in this area. Still, you’ll want to understand if the candidate has values that are fundamentally aligned with your center’s. 

  • Describe your approach to early childhood development.
  • What child care philosophy most closely aligns with your own?
  • What are the most important things children should learn at this age?

What to look for in an answer: You’ll need to determine what kind of responses are ideal based on your center’s overall learning philosophy. If you're a Montessori or Waldorf school, for instance, listen for answers that are focused on play-based learning. Then, make sure the candidate has an understanding of age-appropriate milestones, so they’re focused on the right things in the classroom.

3. Classroom management interview questions

Classroom management questions dig into a candidate's understanding of age-appropriate behavior management. You’ll  gain an understanding of how a daycare teacher navigates challenging situations. (Which we know are many when working with littles!)

  • Give an example of how you’ve created a positive and nurturing classroom environment in the past.
  • How do you handle redirection or challenging behaviors in the classroom?

What to look for in an answer: These questions can help filter out daycare teachers who may have fundamentally different ways of approaching challenges than your center prefers. Ideally, the candidate shares a problem-solving approach that mirrors your center’s. Or, they express an openness to different styles and are willing and excited to learn how your center operates. You also want to see that the candidate can proactively create positive situations for their students with specific examples of how they've done so in similar situations.

4. Situational interview questions

These questions give candidates a chance to apply their knowledge to real-world daycare scenarios. Many hiring managers love situational questions, as they give the candidate an opportunity to think on their feet and showcase their problem-solving skills in real-time. 

  • A child is crying and doesn't want their parent to leave. How would you handle the situation? 
  • Two children are repeatedly getting into conflict over the same toy. How would you address this?

What to look for in an answer: For the first question, you want to see that a daycare teacher can hold space for the child’s emotions, while redirecting the child and reducing stress for the parent. Ideally, your candidate will also address how they would reassure the parent. In this common situation, parents can feel as anxious (if not more than) the child, so you’ll want a daycare teacher with the skill set to manage the parent’s feelings, too. 

For the second question, listen for an age-appropriate response—like validating feelings or encouraging sharing. If you’re hiring for an infant teacher, make sure there response is relevant for that (very different) age group.

5. Personal interview questions

These questions help you gauge a candidate's genuine passion for working with children and their potential fit with your center's culture.

  • Why do you enjoy working with children in this age group? 
  • What’s your favorite part about working in a classroom setting?
  • What qualities do you think make a great daycare teacher?
  • What’s the most challenging part of working with children for you?

What to look for in an answer: Responses should reveal a genuine love for the age group, an appreciation for unique personalities and developmental stages, and an enthusiasm for the role. Any response that comes off as distant or disengaged is probably a red flag. Asking what the teacher perceives as the most challenging part of their job can be a great indicator of self-awareness and an area for growth. In most cases, don’t mark points off for this response, but take note of it as a development tool for the future.

 

preschoolers paint outside in nature

Are you ready to make hiring even easier?

Hiring the right daycare teachers is essential to your childcare center's success. With thoughtful interview questions, you'll learn valuable information about a candidate's skills, experience, and overall fit for your center.

Are you ready to make hiring even easier?

If you're looking for a way to streamline your hiring process and connect with qualified, reliable daycare teachers, consider trying SitterTree. Serving the childcare community since 2015, sign up for a free account on SitterTree to see how easy it is to find experienced early childhood educators for your center.

Or get started with an introductory phone call.

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