How to Make the Most of your Interviews
January 19, 2015
Whether you are just starting a dayhome, are a director for a larger childcare centre, or need to attract new clients for your well established dayhome, a well planned and professional first interview, or tour, will go a long way in making a great impression. Even the most experienced provider will have a few butterflies when it comes to meeting and interviewing potential clients/families. With a little bit of preparation and fore-thought, you can make all your interviews and/or tours run smoothly.
1. Prepare yourself: You may be in your home, but you are also in your place of work. Dress appropriately. This is not a job interview in the traditional sense, so a suit is not required, but look and be professional. Greeting potential clients in sweats and your hair hastily thrown back in a ponytail is NOT the first impression you want to make. If the kids got paint on your clothes during the day, put on a new outfit, and a smile, to make a great first impression!
2. Prepare your space: Parents will completely understand that you have children in your childcare centre all day, so immaculate is not what you are going for, but clean and tidy is. Spend a little time before interviews putting toys away into bins, wiping down tables/surfaces, and making sure there are no stray Lego pieces for people to step on – OUCH! However, TOO clean is also an issue. I was recently talking to one parent who had toured a place that was so immaculate and clean, it didn’t look like the children would have any fun, or be able to relax there. Child-friendly, but organized, is the balance you are going for. If the parents will be bringing children with them (which I highly recommend), have a bin of toys or crafts that the kids can play with while you and the parents talk.
3. Prepare your business documents: Have your contract, rates, parent handbook, memos, notes, charts, etc. printed off and ready to go for parents to read over. Ensure that your documents say what you want, and are worded in a way that is reflective of you and your style. Your contract may be quite formal, but if you are a super relaxed and fun-loving person, allow some of that personality to show through in your other documents. While parents may not be ready to sign on the dotted line right away, having some documentation or readings that they can mull over afterwards will keep you top of mind as they are making their decision.
4. Be yourself: This is potentially (and hopefully!) a long term relationship you will be entering into with a family. Allow your wonderful personality to shine through. This is also an opportunity to share your philosophy about childcare. Is your routine structured or more go with the flow? Do you follow a prescribed educational plan? What is your philosophy about children’s nutrition? If you are loud and boisterous with the kids, allow that to show. If your style is more shy and quiet and gentle, don’t hide it. Your unique personality might be exactly what the family needs. If you have other staff working in your dayhome, be sure the parents are able to meet them too. You as the director/owner set the direction of the childcare, but parents need to be assured that all the people who will be looking after their children will mesh.
5. Remember, this is your interview too: You may need to fill your spaces in your childcare centre/dayhome, but this relationship has to work for you as well! Have a set of questions prepared that you ask the parents. You have just as much right as the parents to say whether or not you think the relationship is going to work. If you have very strict hours of closing at 5pm, and the parents start mentioning stopping to grab groceries before coming to pick up Johnny, or popping by the gym, this might not be the best fit. If you’ve got 4 rambunctious boys already in your care, and the new child in question is a quiet and shy little girl, again, might not be the best fit. However, if the new child is a little boy who needs help being brought out of his shell – BINGO! This new playmate sounds perfect!
These five steps, and a little bit of preparation time, will help ensure that your interviews and tours run smoothly. Not every family is going to be the best fit for you and your dayhome, but making a good impression is ALWAYS a good thing. The family that didn’t work for you may have friends down the street for whom you would be the PERFECT fit!
To find families in Alberta who are looking for you, be sure to register your dayhome TODAY at Dayhome Registry. With over 76,000 page views in 2014, there is certainly a family out there that is perfect for you!!