The interview process for a daycare worker involves specific questions not found in a normal job interview. These daycare interview questions will help you prepare for your next job interview in an early childhood setting. And the sample answers will show you are an ideal childcare center employee.
Here are 50 common child care interview questions with answers that you should know if you are seeking a career in early childhood education.
Questions About the Candidate
1. Why is a career in childcare important to you?
Answer: I have always loved working with children. I believe that children are our future and that every child deserves the best start in life. Working in childcare is a great opportunity to have a real positive impact on the world, and to provide children with the basic skills necessary to grow and succeed in life.
2. Tell me about yourself.
Answer: I am an early childcare professional with several years of experience in the care of children and providing early education. Through my own childhood experiences, I appreciate the value of a loving, supportive, and nurturing environment. Not all children have a positive home environment, but I can make sure that every child in my care has a safe environment and loving support when they are with me.
3. What values make a trustworthy person?
Answer: I believe that being trustworthy is about what you choose to do as much as what you choose not to do. It is reporting concerns immediately, owning your mistakes, helping others when they need it, and acting with integrity. Being trustworthy is critical when you are caring for children. Everyone involved needs to know that you have it and that their children are in excellent hands.
4. What makes you the best candidate for this role?
Answer: In my past roles, I have demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and care. My long-term goals are to progress into a senior childcare role or a daycare center director. I understand that achieving this will require consistent hard work, dedication, commitment to professional development, and adherence to the highest levels of personal conduct. I am more than willing and more than ready to put my skills and energy to work in this role.
5. What motivates you?
Answer: I am motivated by helping others and improving the world around me. This means that I go out of my way to create a positive work environment and help my colleagues. It also means that I take pride in the development of children in my care, through physical activities, social activities and classroom development.
6. What sports or activities do you do in your personal time?
Answer: While I love my work, I also try to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I stay active and I am involved in local sports. I believe that being healthy and physically active contributes to good mental health and improves my performance at work.
7. What is your biggest strength?
Answer: Patience. As daycare teachers and childcare workers, we are constantly faced with difficult situations. Especially when working with younger children, they are still learning to speak, communicate, think, and interact with others. Patience is an important factor in facilitating the learning process in all areas of a child’s development.
8. What is your biggest weakness in childcare?
Answers: Sometimes I am a perfectionist, striving for total engagement with every child. At the end of the day, this is unrealistic. Each child has different needs, and the ideal class plan for one child will not always be good for others. I am learning to be more flexible in my delivery so that I can engage as many children as possible.
9. What five words describe you?
1. Empathetic, as I am in touch with how others feel.
2. Honest, because I take a great deal of pride in acting with integrity.
3. Fun, provided it is safe and responsible, because I think having fun is one of the best ways to engage children.
4. Loving, as I make sure everyone around me knows how much I care about them.
5. Responsible, because I always remember to be a good role model both at work and in my personal life.
10. If you left childcare, what would your next career be?
Answer: That is a great question. I haven’t thought about it because I’ve never wanted to leave childcare. I have a strong desire to make the world a better place, and if I left childcare, I would want to be in a career where I can improve people’s lives. So, I would consider aged care or nursing because my caring nature would be a good fit for these jobs.
11. Do you have a favorite children’s book?
Answer: It would be very difficult for me to name a specific one or two books that are my favorite because there are many excellent children’s books available. I like any book that teaches valuable life skills and personal values, openness to others, friendliness, gratitude, sharing, and working with others. If I had to choose, I might be tempted to pick a classic like one of the Winnie-the-Pooh books that teach kindness and timeless values.
12. What television shows do you think are ideal for 3-5-year-olds?
Answer: Sesame Street is good. It teaches problem-solving, social skills, and including others who are different from you, while also incorporating numeracy and literacy. Also, Thomas the Tank Engine is colorful and engaging. The trains work together to solve problems, and it teaches teamwork. Finally, Dora the Explorer is a good pick because it encourages adventure and exploration.
13. How do you work under pressure?
Answer: I rarely become stressed. I am usually relaxed because I take good care of my health, exercise regularly, and eat and sleep well. On a personal level, when stress does arise, I just take it one step at a time and work through situations.
14. How do you ensure effective communication with parents?
Answer: I find that a good way to keep the parents of my children up to date is to make sure they know to expect regular updates. I provide a monthly letter and a short note every Friday covering the past week’s progress and any upcoming events. If a child is falling behind or has behavioral issues, I will arrange a meeting.
15. How do you stay organized and structure your teaching day?
Answer: I always have a monthly overview and use this to create the following week’s outline before the end of the current week. Each night, I prepare an activity timeline for the next day and make sure the resources for the next morning’s first activity are ready. This keeps me on track and organized.
16. What is the most difficult thing about working in childcare?
Answer: This is the age when behavioral issues and learning difficulties usually present themselves. This means being aware of each and every child, so no one falls through the cracks, is a big part of the job. If I see anyone falling behind, I give them a little extra time after each activity to make sure they are keeping up.
17. Why did you leave your previous position?
Answer: I began as a new staff member at my last job as a teacher’s assistant, and I did not have much experience. Now I have several years of experience and have developed as a professional and competent teacher. I am looking for the opportunity to further develop my skills and progress my career to the next level.
18. What do you like about working in childcare?
Answer: I enjoy children, but that’s true of all childcare workers. I take pride in being able to provide support to children who need it and teach them new things. It is especially rewarding to see a child learn a new skill they have been working at or to make a breakthrough in an area they previously struggled in.
19. What is the most fulfilling experience you have had in childcare?
Answer: A child came to our daycare who had been to a few different schools, and they struggled to make friends. I worked to help them learn to interact with others. When they had a conflict, I would talk them through what had caused it and the options for handling it. Sometimes it was frustrating, but it was utterly rewarding and heartwarming the day that I saw them make their first friend. I will never forget that day.
20. Have you ever had to adhere to a policy or procedure you disagreed with?
Answer: In a previous job, we had a policy for bullying and disagreements that was not well written. One day, a child who was frequently bullied retaliated physically. He was suspended and put on warning. It was upsetting that nothing was done to the bully, and that nothing had been done to fix the problem before it got to that point.
I worked closely with the director and HR manager to rewrite the policy so that in the future, there would be a process for dealing with bullying behavior and that bullying, whether physical or otherwise, would be more strictly and equitably dealt with.
21. What are the most important skills for young children to learn?
Answer: Many skills are important to children, such as communication skills. By this, I mean not just speaking, but listening and understanding others. Others important skills include motor skills and coordination, emotional capacity, self-regulation, and self-control, too. But possibly the most important is social skills and being able to have a connection with others. The ability to interact with and relate to others and form meaningful connections is much harder to learn as a teenager or adult.
22. What experience do you have with children in this age group?
Answer: As a student-teacher, I was placed in a class with children of this age, so I am familiar with working with them. I have experience creating lesson plans and conducting classes for this age group. I think they’re a great age to work with, and I find them very fun to be around and fascinating to watch how they learn and interact.
23. What is the best part of working with this age group?
Answer: My favorite part of working with children in this age group is their inquisitiveness and openness. They are not afraid to ask questions. They want to know everything, and they ask so directly. As long as you meet them at their energy level and make classes enjoyable and fun, they are very teachable because they want to learn new things.
24. Is there anything that you dislike about working with this age group?
Answer: I think the hardest part is that because they are young, they do not have full control of their emotions yet, so they fight and they have tantrums, and it can be challenging. But it is also rewarding because you get to teach them self-control and emotional awareness and watch them improve and grow.
25. What teaching style do you use and why?
Answer: My teaching style is results-driven. I pay attention to the outcomes being achieved by my children. If a lot of children are struggling, I know the problem is with me, and I change. If only one or two are struggling, then I give them extra attention or adapt the curriculum slightly to help them keep up.
26. How do you think daycare facilities can provide better child development for young children?
Answer: I think as an industry, focusing on empowering children with skills for self-directed learning is important. We need to grow and shape children are not reliant on teachers and parents all the time but can have the confidence to explore and develop their skills and knowledge independently.
27. What is the biggest challenge facing childcare teachers?
Answer: I think increasing child ratios are a big one, but keeping ratios low is not always possible. I break larger classes into sub-groups and give each group activities to do while I give one group specialized attention. By changing which group I focus on each time, I can increase the attention that each child gets and make sure no one is left behind.
28. Tell us about a time you made a mistake at work. What did you do?
Answer: When I was a student teacher, I was tasked with creating a class plan. I didn’t want to look unknowledgeable, so I did not ask for help. That lesson was a failure, and we gave the children free play time. I have learned that it’s always better to ask for help than to fail at something you don’t know how to do.
29. Have you ever had to teach a difficult child?
Answer: During my previous job, I had one child who would do distracting things that stopped other children from focusing. In response, I learned to make my lessons extra engaging to reduce their loss of focus and also to keep other children’s attention better when this child started to become distracting. Second, I would prepare a special challenge for them so that they would have something to occupy themselves. I know that there are certain neurological difference with some children that cause them to have distracting behavior, so it’s not always something intentional that they are doing wrong.
30. What values are most important in a good childcare staff member?
Answer: Teachers need to have many skills and and have the right values to be successful. I think the top three are:
1. a genuine love for children and helping others,
2. an ability to be engaging and create activities that hold children’s attention, and
3. finally, being caring and loving is critical and especially being able to convey this care to children.
31. When working with children, what do you find difficult?
Answer: The hardest part is dealing with children who are lack structure at home or are not properly disciplined at home. Not only do they fail to learn, but they distract other children, too. Also, some parents don’t attend meetings or correct their child’s behavior when it’s brought to their attention. However, I know that these challenges will always be there, and they are an opportunity to grow and develop new skills as a teacher.
32. Describe a time you had to deal with an unhappy parent.
Answer: I once had a parent who would complain that the lessons were too easy. I told my daycare’s director and then had a meeting with the parents. We explained that the curriculum standards were set by the state, and making it harder might leave others behind. I offered to send their child home with worksheets for advanced practice, and also suggested a few tutoring schools in the area that could work on advanced skills on the weekends or after daycare.
33. What do you do to create a stimulating environment for children?
Answer: I use a three-layer approach to create a stimulating classroom. I try to have colorful visuals around the classroom. I also use a lot of multi-modal learning to engage as many children’s preferred learning styles as possible. Finally, I encourage hands-on activities to make sure students are active participants and not passive observers.
34. How do you approach potty training and diaper changes?
Answer: I always follow the facility’s procedures for both. In addition, I use the CDC guidelines for diaper changes in childcare as a best practices guide. This includes ensuring that I use a disposable change table liner, and when cleaning a child, always wipe front to back. For potty training, I prompt children when they might need to go before they have an accident. I monitor children when they go to make sure that they clean themselves properly and don’t leave a mess.
Behavior and Discipline Questions
35. Is it the childcare facility’s job to provide discipline?
Answer: Sometimes, yes. When parents are not present, it is the responsibility of the adult in charge. It should be carried out following facility policies and state and federal laws. Positive reinforcement of good behavior is certainly preferable, and only non-aggressive options like timeouts should ever be used if a child needs punishment.
36. How do you handle inappropriate language in the classroom?
Answer: First, I consult any policies or procedures the daycare has. In the first instance, I will tell them that their language is inappropriate and must not be used. If the child continues, I will apply the daycare’s disciplinary guidelines. If it continues, I will follow up with the parents and management as required.
37. What do you do if a child doesn’t want to participate in an activity?
Answer: First, I will try to explain why it is important and motivate them to join in. If it is an isolated incident, I will consider if they can do an alternate task. If it is a chronic problem, both the daycare and the parents will be notified in case the child has any behavioral issues or learning difficulties.
38. How would you intervene in a physical altercation between children?
Answer: First, I always follow policy and procedure when intervening. I will try to deescalate the situation and place myself between them so that they cannot continue to fight. I will then separate them so that they cannot fight further. Afterward, I will talk to each child separately and help them to verbalize their emotions and to learn better coping mechanisms.
39. How do you respond to a child bullying another?
Answer: The first thing I would do is to place the child who is doing the bullying into a time out. I would ask them why they did what they did and explain to them that their behavior is hurtful and cannot continue. I would then go to the child who had been bullied and make sure they were okay and explain to them that the way they were treated by the other child was wrong.
40. Have you ever identified a child with learning difficulties in your class?
Answer: I was once teaching a class of older toddlers, and I noticed during quiet reading time that one child would always read aloud. It was too early to say if this was a problem, but it can lead to a habit of subvocalization when older, which often causes very slow reading. I let the parents know to keep an eye on their reading development.
41. What things do you do to foster creativity in this age group?
Answer: I use many tools to foster creativity but especially drawing. I try not to correct a drawing, even if it doesn’t make sense to me. I like to use guided drawing challenges like limiting the number of colors available, so they have to use alternate colors, or providing an open-ended request like “draw an animal you can have as a pet.”
42. If we sat in on one of your classes, what would we see?
Answer: In my class, you will see children who are engaged and being challenged to do their best. You will see activities that are hands-on and, as often as possible, engage in multi-modal learning. I set problem-based tasks so that students learn to apply problem-solving. And you will see me walking around the class, available to all students to ask questions.
43. How do you manage learners of different abilities in your classroom?
Answer: In all my class plans, I will have three-to-five different difficulty levels. First, I set a medium-difficulty objective that most students can achieve. If a student finishes quickly, I will give them a stretch goal to challenge them. For students who are struggling, I will give them a more achievable goal. If a child consistently under or over-performs, I will notify their parents of the situation.
44. How often do you use arts and crafts as a teaching tool with this age group?
Answer: I try to always include something hands-on at least once a day, and arts and crafts are often one such activity. I feel it is important to have the children doing arts and crafts, as it fosters a high degree of creativity and self-directed learning. Also, it helps to keep the more active students better engaged.
45. At what time do you get parents involved to resolve behavioral problems?
Answer: It is difficult to choose a specific time to get parents involved. I will do so any time that policy says to, but if there is no policy, I will involve parents any time that bad behavior becomes a recurring issue.
46. Why should we hire you?
Answer: I am deeply passionate about working with children, ensuring their well-being, and helping them to get a good start in life. I have experience handling all types of childcare-related behavioral issues. And I have a proven history of high-quality learning and development outcomes for children in my classes.
47. What would you do if you noticed someone acting suspiciously near the daycare grounds?
Answer: The very first thing I do is to take note of the time, any vehicle nearby they may have come from with its license plate, and to note down their appearance, height, clothing, and distinguishing features. I then follow whatever official procedure applies. If there’s an immediate threat, I keep an eye on the person while notifying other teachers to bring the children inside as quickly as possible. During this process, I also make sure someone contacts the police.
48. Have you ever deliberately broken the rules at work?
Answer: No, I have never knowingly broken any rules in a workplace. Rules are there for a reason, and they are usually a result of past events and experiences. Not only do I not break them, but I also do not tolerate others breaking them.
49. What would you do if a colleague who was a personal friend broke policy or procedure at work?
Answer: Policies and procedures are in place to protect teachers and students alike. If I saw someone breaching a policy, I would remind them of the policy immediately and remedy the situation. I would, myself, follow any policy for reporting any breach immediately, even if the person is a friend.
50. How do you handle situations in case of an emergency?
Answer: To begin, I always follow procedures if one exists. If one is not available, I assess the situation and remove any danger or threats. I then call for help and treat any child or children who are injured (to the best of my ability). Afterward, I immediately provide a detailed report of the event to the daycare.
Many of these common questions will come up when you apply for a role with a child care center or home daycare provider. Making sure you are among the successful candidates is not hard. You just need to know the job description and provide thoughtful answers that address the daycare facility or childcare provider’s concerns.
Be familiar with national quality standards, be prepared to undergo a criminal background check, and the most important thing, demonstrate a clear and enthusiastic passion for early childhood development.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.