Preparing for an interview as a nursery nurse or nursery assistant can be a nerve-wracking experience. From deciding what to wear and what to say, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.


Securing a nursery position is not only about showcasing your qualifications but also about demonstrating the unique qualities that make you an ideal fit for an early childhood education environment.


To help you navigate the interview process with confidence, we’ve crafted this comprehensive guide covering preparation strategies and offering insights into potential questions that could come up in your next nursery interview! 

How to prepare for your nursery interview



Do your research


One of the biggest determinants of a successful interview is how much time you put into research. Find out everything you can about the nursery you’re applying to. Do they have any particular childcare approach or philosophy? What opportunities are there for career progression? What are their values or mission? This knowledge will allow you to align your responses with the nursery’s core principles during the interview.


Read the nursery’s Ofsted report and do some digging around on their website. Your research doesn’t have to stop when you take your seat in the interview. In fact, meeting the team face-to-face is an ideal opportunity to ask any questions you may still have. You can either introduce questions as they come up in conversation or wait till the end of the interview.

Plan your route


It is a good idea to find out where the nursery is located and how long it will take to get there. If you are planning to drive, find out whether there is any parking nearby. If you plan on getting there by public transportation, find out what stop to get on and what stop to get off. Take into account how long it will take you to walk from the bus or train stop to the nursery.


Ensure you have enough time to get there and don’t leave things to the last minute. Aim to arrive around 15 minutes early. Being late for an interview can leave a bad impression. If you are running late, call them to apologise. Remember to take the nursery’s phone number with you as well as a note of who you will be seeing so you can ask for them when you get there.

Take all relevant documents with you


It’s important to stay organised. Put all your folders and documents into a file with your up-to-date CV. It can be a good idea to bring any written references or testimonials you may have received from co-workers, parents or even children. Also be sure to bring documentation relating to your current safeguarding training. Ask ahead of the interview whether there are any other documents they would like you to bring on the day including any forms of ID. Sometimes you won’t be able to start working until all documents are on file so ensure you have everything you need.


Consider applying for a DBS before the interview as this can help you start work quicker. There is an initial cost but long-term this may mean you don’t have to wait to process one before you can start working. If you’re working with a recruitment agency, these documents will need to be processed before you can attend your interview.

Dress appropriately


It’s important to dress smart and tidily, with no jeans or trainers. To make yourself look professional, consider wearing dark trousers and a smart top. If you have long hair, tie it back to minimise distractions during the interview. Make sure you don’t have dangly jewellery or long painted nails.


Whether you’re applying for a nursery nurse or a nursery assistant role, most interviews will require you to have a play session within the nursery rooms. This is important to see how you interact with babies and young children. Wear something comfortable that you can move around in.

Be confident and positive


Confidence is key! The person interviewing you doesn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable –  they want to make sure you are the right person for the job. By doing your research on the nursery and looking at the EYFS curriculum, you will be ready to answer any questions they may have.


Have a positive outlook in your interview – smile, maintain eye contact and believe in yourself. Show that you are enthusiastic and keep your answers positive.

Review the job description


Familiarise yourself with the specific responsibilities outlined in the job description. This ensures you can speak directly to how your skills and experiences align with the expectations of the role.


Explain how you are the right person for the job and be sure to outline how you meet the criteria listed in the job description.


Click here to view the job description of a nursery nurse

Click here to view the job description of a nursery assistant

Reflect on yourself and your experiences


Knowing yourself can sound straightforward but some people find it difficult to sell themselves. A ‘tell me about yourself’ question can be difficult for many people to answer. The best way to prepare for this is to read over your cover letter and CV and to think of specific examples of your achievements, goals and interests.


Also consider past experiences working with children, whether through volunteering, placements, or previous jobs. Reflect on challenges faced and successful outcomes, as these stories can be powerful examples during the interview.

Prepare for scenario-based questions


Anticipate questions that ask you to describe how you would handle specific situations. For example, the interviewer might ask you how you would approach a situation where two children are arguing over a toy during playtime. Use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to structure your responses to these types of questions:


Situation: Describe the scenario you encountered in the nursery. Provide context by explaining the circumstances surrounding the incident.


Task: Clearly outline the task or objective you needed to accomplish in response to the situation. This could include managing a conflict, addressing challenging behaviour, supporting emotional needs, etc.


Action: Detail the actions you took to address the situation and achieve your objective. Focus on the steps you implemented to effectively manage the behaviour or support the child’s needs. Be sure to emphasise any strategies or techniques you used, such as active listening, positive reinforcement, redirection, etc.


Result: Share the outcome of your actions. Highlight the impact of your intervention on the child’s behaviour, emotional well-being, and overall learning experience. If applicable, discuss any positive changes observed in the child’s behaviour or the resolution of the situation.

Ask thoughtful questions


People often forget that interviews are a two-way street. The employer wants to find out whether you are a good fit for their nursery role, but you also want to know whether the role would be a good fit for you. Take this opportunity to find out what you need to know about the role.


Prepare a few questions to ask the interviewers. This not only demonstrates your interest in the role but also provides an opportunity to assess if the nursery aligns with your professional goals.


Here are some potential questions you can ask at the end of your interview:


  • How many children do you currently have in the nursery?
  • What is the typical day-to-day routine for this position?
  • What sort of activities can I be expected to prepare for the children?
  • Can you share more about the nursery’s approach to childcare development?
  • How does the nursery handle communication with parents about their child’s progress?
  • When can I expect a decision on my application?

Practice, practice, practice


Rehearse your responses to common questions, either with a friend or in front of a mirror. This practice helps refine your delivery and ensures you’re comfortable discussing your experiences. It can also be a good idea to video yourself answering questions so you can review your answers.


Practicing for your nursery interview can increase your chances of success as it allows you to become familiar with potential questions and reduce nervousness. It also helps you articulate your thoughts clearly and concisely during the interview.

10 possible nursery interview questions



Here are some questions that you may be asked in your upcoming nursery interview:


  1. What do you enjoy about working with children?
  2. What aged children have you worked with previously and which age range do you most enjoy working with?
  3. Have you completed any childcare or early years education qualification courses?
  4. How do you manage transitions and help children adapt to new activities throughout the day?
  5. How would you handle a situation where a child displays signs of distress or anxiety?
  6. Can you provide an example of a creative and engaging activity you’ve planned for children?
  7. What strategies do you use to build positive relationships with parents or guardians?
  8. Describe your experience working in a team.
  9. Can you share an example of a challenging behaviour you’ve encountered and how you addressed it?
  10. How do you stay informed about current trends and best practices in early childhood education?

If you’ve done your research and prepared answers to potential interview questions, all that’s left to do is be yourself! Working as a nursery nurse or nursery assistant involves interacting with parents, children and your team members so it’s important to see your personality shine through in your interview! 


By preparing for these questions and considering your unique experiences and skills, you’ll be well-equipped to take on your nursery interview successfully. Remember, authenticity and a genuine passion for nurturing young minds will set you apart in the field of early childhood education. 


View our latest nursery jobs