Preparing for the Interview Process

Antoinette Stingas, Managing Director, ETA  YouTube: 


How you perform at an interview is important therefore preparation is vital.  You need to do everything possible to sell yourself. Imagine giving a performance without some practice and preparation? Preparation will make you feel more confident, positive and less anxious. 

On the interview day do not get tense or fixated about it, instead think about things such as what you will be doing to stay relaxed, what time you will need to leave, what sorts of questions will you be asked and how will you answer them. Always bring energy and enthusiasm to the interview and remember your attitude and motivation are often just as significant as your skills and experience.

An interview is a professional meeting to talk business.  It is not about making a new friend.  Even if you have developed a rapport with the interviewer, do not be overly familiar. 

Remember that you are also interviewing a potential employer as much as they are interviewing you. You need to work out if they are a good fit as well.


Tips to make the best impression


  • Do your homework: Research the employer by looking at their website and familiarise yourself with their environment and make sure you are aware of all educational terms and contents e.g. VELS!


  • Have a good night’s sleep:  Ensure you are energised and calm through sound sleep.  In this way you will feel fresh and sharp to answer questions.


  • Dress appropriately:  Pay attention to your personal presentation and general hygiene.  It is important to look professional and well-groomed.  Ensure your attire is conveying the effect you want to create. This will make you more relaxed and less self conscious and also gives the interviewer a good first impression.  Today’s dress code is for smart or business casual and dress-down Fridays; however you will be judged on appearance so dress up.  If in doubt about what to wear, wear a suit.


  • Eat correctly:  Have a solid breakfast and exercise.  Before an interview it is normal to get nervous and anxious and an empty stomach does not help either.  Think about your diet on the day of the interview.  Attempt to eat foods which will store up your energy reserves instead of snacking on a chocolate and coffee which will give you a “rush”.


  • Be punctual:   It is imperative you are punctual.  Give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination. Plan your time well and if you get there early become familiar with the environment and relax. 


  • Turn off your mobile phone:  The interviewer should have your undivided attention.


  • Practice relaxation techniques:  Interviews can be quite stressful so while you are waiting take shallow breaths, then inhale through the nose and exhale, quietly, through the mouth.


  • Be confident in your non-verbal communication:  Your body language, tone, eye contact and general disposition will either ‘make or break” you.  Show you are self-confident with a good, firm handshake and smile, stand straight and ensure you make eye contact.


  • Listen:  Interviewers give information at the start or end of the interview. If at the start, listen carefully as you do not want to miss a major opportunity.  Listen carefully to the questions being asked, speak articulately and avoid answering monosyllabically.  Good communication skills include listening and letting the person know you heard what was said.


  • Expect open ended questions:  The interviewer will ask open-ended questions such as “what”, “how”, “why”, “when” or “where”.  They will also ask probing questions such as “Tell me more”, “Describe to me” and “Explain to me”. The interviewer is ultimately looking for the right “job fit” so they will be asking questions about your skills and experience.  They will also be assessing your attitude and personality and if you fit the culture. Remember, attitude plays a key role and there is a fine balance between confidence, professionalism and modesty.


  • Do not panic:  If you are asked a question that you are unsure of how to answer and you feel you are starting to panic, pause.  Take a moment to think about what you will respond by exhaling, long and hard, this will give you a little time to let your brain get back on track before responding. 

  • Be open-minded: Every interviewer has a different approach as to how an interview should be conducted.  For example, there are the ones who may try to unsettle you; they are only assessing how you deal with pressure and if you handle it well.  You can only control your own behaviour, not the interviewer’s, therefore be prepared for whatever technique they use and confront it confidently.


  • Use Appropriate and Professional Language:  In an interview you will be doing most of the talking.  Think about how your response might be perceived so be aware of any inappropriate slang words or references to age, race, religion, politics or sexual orientation.


  • Prepare for surprises: Interviewers will always ask a few of the standard questions however always be prepared for any surprise questions.  Do not let this intimidate you or make you apprehensive – always answer in a confident and calm manner.


  • Be prepared for a behavioural interview: It is common practice for interviewers to conduct behavioural interviews due to their effectiveness.  They are based on the premise that your past performance is the best indicator of future performance.  You will be asked to describe problems you have encountered in the past and how you handled them or you'll be given a hypothetical situation and asked what you would do. If you fail to relate a specific example, you not only do not answer the question, but you also miss an opportunity to prove your ability and talk about your skills.  The best way ensure you are answering the question is to think “EAR”: Example – Action – Result.  When answering the question think of a situation or task that you needed to complete. Be specific and detailed.   Then describe the action you took (not what the team did).  Tell what you did, not what you might do.  Finally, tell the interviewer what happened and how you completed the task or solved the problem.  Remember that in this kind of interview, you need to tell a story, not list facts.   You may be asked questions about the following so try to think of an example for some of these before the interview: problem-solving ability; oral/written communication skills; ability to meet responsibilities independently; attention to detail; flexibility; initiative; creativity; decision-making ability; leadership negotiation skills and project management skills.


  • Ask Questions: It is important to ask questions.  The majority of candidates answer, "No" when asked if they have any questions. That can be a mistake!  Be prepared to ask questions that demonstrate an interest in what goes on in the school/childcare centre and also ask for any additional information from the interviewer.


  • Follow-up is worthwhile: This is often viewed positively.  Send a short note to the interviewer thanking them for their time and the opportunity to attend the interviewLet them know if there was any information you found particularly interesting or were impressed with during the interview.  This reconfirms your enthusiasm and may strengthen your overall application.


Remember what counts in the end - Getting an interview (as only a small percentage of people get this far in the process) and that you have confidently satisfied the interviewer you are the right person for the job.  Good luck!

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