Shortlist Your Nursery Nurse Applicants With Phone Interviews

Shortlist Your Nursery Nurse Applicants With Phone Interviews


Shortlist Your Nursery Nurse Applicants With Phone Interviews

Imagine every person that applies for your nursery practitioner role was just perfect for the job.

It would make life so much easier.

You would be spoilt for choice.

No more candidates turning up clutching their treasured certificate in trampolining which sadly is their only qualification. (true story, I had this happen)

No more hungry job seekers turning up desperate for work because basically . . .

. . . nobody in their right mind will hire them due to their atrocious record for timekeeping and their inability to provide references.

So how do you screen out all the no-hopers and ensure you only have the cream of the crop attend on interview day?

By having preliminary phone interviews you can streamline your hiring process. Save your time and money and ensure you manage to hire the very best childcare practitioners for your nursery.

Here’s how.

Prepare Your Questions in Advance

By having a uniform set of questions that you can use on all your applicants you can compare your candidates’ answers fairly.

There are some questions that you must ask each candidate and there are some that you might only need to ask certain individuals after reviewing their application form, CV and covering letters.

Here are a few example questions to get you started.

  • What is your current and expected salary?
  • Why are you leaving your current role?
  • In a few words tell me an idea you had at your last nursery that was adopted by management.
  • What are the typical mistakes that you have seen other nursery staff make in the past?

Remember to listen more than you speak, the candidate should be doing most the talking.

Don’t forget that you are trying to weed out the weaker candidates and save yourself time in the long run. Here’s an obvious way to save time but well worth mentioning.

Keep Interviews Down to 15 Minutes

When you start and end your interview keep salutations brief and polite.

Keep each interview under 15 minutes which is plenty of time to ask your questions and to weed out the no-hopers.

Forget some of the well-known interview questions such as –

  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What do you know about our nursery?

Don’t get me wrong these are all useful questions that you might want to ask your shortlisted candidates but are a little general and invite a long response. Great for finding out if you want to hire someone but not the best to create a shortlist quickly.

Remember you are not making a final hiring decision you are only making a final ‘not hiring position’.

After a half a dozen calls you will get your candidates responses jumbled up if you are not careful, here’s how to avoid that.

Take Notes

Keep notes for each candidate and record the answers they give you. The last thing you want is to get candidates mixed up and end up shortlisting the wrong person.

Also pay particular attention to any numbers, dates or anything else specific they tell you. If their answer varies down the line then perhaps they are ‘gilding the lily’ a little and you might want to dig a little deeper or even remove them from your shortlist.

Throw Out Any Names That Can’t Follow Simple Instructions

Now before you even create a list of call-backs you need to pay attention to any applications where they have neglected to follow simple instructions.

If you ask for a C.V or a covering letter then your applicants need to include them with their application.

If you ask for a list of referees then you should expect to see them.

If prospective employees can’t even follow simple instructions with the job application what can you expect from them if you hire them?

Another big one to watch out for is education, experience and qualifications.

Let me explain.

Remove Applications That Don’t Have Relevant Qualifications

Many people are drawn to childcare as an occupation and this includes people with no experience or qualifications.

Your job advertisement should be specific in your requirements.

Your shortlist of applicants should meet those requirements; if they don’t then they should not even make the phone interview list.

Here’s a quick example of a job advertisement.


We are currently seeking passionate and reliable Nursery Practitioner to work at our nursery which is located in Birmingham.

To be considered for the Nursery Nurse position you must have:

Level 3 or above in a Childcare Qualification

Minimum 12 months experience required

Knowledge of tapestry or online journal will be an advantage

Good understanding and use of EYFS Framework

Adhere to safeguarding regulations

Please apply if you meet the Nursery Nurse criteria. You must be able to provide 3 years’ worth of references and a successful candidate will be subject to a DBS check.

Certifications in safeguarding children, food hygiene, paediatric first aid would be an advantage but full training can be given if you are successful with your application. 


So if you get application forms and the candidates do not have the sufficient qualifications listed above then you can quickly remove them from your call back list.

So now you have a much smaller list of potential candidates.

A shortlist of the most promising prospects.

Arrange the interview dates.

Get them in and hire yourself a team of outstanding nursery practitioners.

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