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Early Years Practice

Nursery Interview Questions – What to ask and what to say. 2023 Guide

Our Head of Recruitment Caroline shares what to expect from your interview at Fennies.

Nursery staff talking

Whether you’re a level 2 or 3 qualified practitioners (also known as a nursery nurse) looking for a new opportunity, or you’re interested in starting an apprenticeship in childcare, here’s some great tips and tricks to help make that interview process a little less stressful.

At Fennies, we have a very robust interview process to make sure that we are inclusive when hiring the right people for our nurseries. This will also give you an opportunity to learn more about us and make sure the job is the right fit for you. 

Once you have applied for the role or sent your CV to our recruitment team, you will be booked in for an initial telephone interview where we will have a chat and get to know you and your suitability for the role. We also understand that you may be at work during the day and unable to talk so we offer out of hour calls so this is as convenient as possible for you. 

During the call, you’ll learn all about Fennies and our values, what makes us different to other nursery groups, our employee benefits and the internal training courses we offer. Our recruitment team will tailor the call specifically for you so we can learn about whether you have an age group preference, the nursery rooms you’ve previously worked in, whether the location is right for you and what you’re hoping to achieve in terms of career progression. 

telephone call in office

Once the telephone interview is complete, you will be asked to complete an application form before attending your second interview and will then be invited for an in-person nursery interview. The person interviewing you at this stage will usually be the nursery manager and deputy or another member of the management team. Here you'll be asked more specialised questions relating to childcare and your experience. The second part of the interview will involve a robust room trial so that you can get a feel of the nursery and have an opportunity to engage with the children and interact with our staff. 

Our thorough interview process helps us make sure that you’re right for the role and allows you to get a proper feel for Fennies before joining the team. It also allows us to ensure we’re selecting the very best people to work at our nurseries. Part of this includes carrying out a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Sevice), acquiring 2 professional references, ensuring interviews are always carried out by 2 people (even if the interview is virtual), supervision during a room trial and our whole recruitment team have safer recruitment training. 

So you’ve applied for the job and sent off your CV, what happens next? Well, at Fennies we follow safer recruitment proccesses to select the very best candidates for each job, this is especially important for those working in the nursery rooms. The first stage of our interview proccess inclused a telephone screening interview to assess your suitability for the role and outline the key responsibilities of the job description. 

Here’s some of the questions you can expect to be asked at this stage of interviewing: 

  • What early years qualifications and skills do you have? 
  • What does safeguarding mean to you? 
  • What do you know about the EYFS? 

How to prepare for your nursery nurse interview

Interviews can definitely be nerve-racking so it’s a good idea to be well-prepared to help keep your mind at ease and we get to see the real you! Before your interview, make sure you plan your route to the nursery to ensure you arrive on time, dress smartly and always be polite. Remember first impressions count! 

nursery practitioners talking

We are always looking for our practitioners to have a keen interest in the early years and it's great to show that you have creative ideas during your nursery interview. This can be shown when you interact with both the staff and children during your work trial, for example, you may be asked to set up an exciting activity or talk to the other practitioners about what it's like to work for us so always come with this in mind.

A good knowledge of the nursery you’re applying for definitely helps too so have a look on the nursery website or social media channels before applying. You can then show off your knowledge during your interview. 

Example interview questions for Apprentices

Of course, if you’re applying for an apprenticeship you won’t have extensive knowledge of the EYFS yet, and we don’t expect you to, however showing an interest and some basic understanding around childcare is definitely a bonus, so if you can get this across in your answers that’s great! 

Here’s some example interview questions you may be asked for an apprenticeship at Fennies: 

  • Why do you want to work in the Early Years?  
  • What skills do you have that you think could help when working with babies and children? 
  • How do you work as part of a team? 
  • Can you explain how you would keep children safe in the nursery? 
  • How would you help support a child’s development and learning? 

There is often also some questions around different scenarios you may face in the job such as “a child is new to nursery and hasn’t stopped crying for a while, what would you do?” or “if you notice two members of staff having a disagreement, how would you approach this?” 

childcare practitioner in nursery room

Our interview process ensures we are hiring practitioners who are passionate and enthusiastic about working with children and can best support their early years development. 

I’ve put together a list of additional example interview questions you’re likely to be asked at an interview for a qualified early years practitioner role: 

  • What would you do if you have a concern about a child?  
  • Can you give some examples of policies and procedures relating to the health and safety of children that you have followed?  
  • Why is it important to share this information with parents? 
  • How many children are in the room you currently work in? 

So now it’s come to the end of the interview and you’re asked “do you have any questions for us?” Often people make the mistake of not asking any questions but asking some insightful questions can show that you have great initiative and a keen interest in working for the nursery. 

Here’s some examples of great questions we’ve been asked by candidates during job interviews: 

  • What’s career progression like at Fennies? 
  • What internal training courses do you offer? 
  • How would you support me through my apprenticeship/ further qualifications? 
  • What does a typical day look like at Fennies? 
  • If I was to ask a staff member what it’s like to work here, what would they say? 
  • How does the nursery manager support the team’s well-being? 

Tip! Research the nursery website before your interview so you can talk about their educational offering, parent partnerships or any new nursery openings they may have coming up. 



Head of Talent

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