Something a little different: How to interview well

This is something a little different to previous posts which have mostly centred around my experience in running and growing a business. However, it is a topic that I come up against on a weekly basis and relates directly to BOKAC so I thought I would discuss it (plus, you don’t really have a choice over what I write, although now i’ve semi-warned you on the subject you can of course click away!).

The BOKAC registration process has been deliberately designed to make sure we only register babysitters who are experienced, intelligent, reliable and efficient. It isn’t overly complicated but over 40% of applicants fall at the first hurdle by not reading the registration requirements fully and not completing the forms in a timely manner. This lack of attention to detail is a red flag and I am never sorry to thank that 40% politely for their time.

Tip 1: If you’re filling out an application form, read the instructions carefully. If the company requests two references, don’t just send one. If they also ask for your NI number, don’t just send the references.

Tip 2: Also, don’t take more than a week to respond and if something is holding you up, take the time to email/call the company to give them an update. It shows that you care and appreciate their time.

If applicants reach the next stage, we meet to discuss their childcare experience in detail. The meetings are not overly formal but interview situations often make people feel uneasy so I try and create a friendly atmosphere by first explaining the background to BOKAC and then ask if they have taken a look at our website. More times than I would like, the reply is “Actually no, I haven’t” or “I had a quick look when I applied but not really”.

Tip 3: Always do your research on the company you are interviewing with. At a basic level, familiarise yourself with their website but also take a look at any recent articles or their social media channels. It is imperative that you take a genuine interest in the opportunity up for discussion. If you’re not really interested, don’t bother applying!

After I finish telling each applicant a little about BOKAC, I then begin with an easy question “Why do you want to join as a babysitter” or “Why do you enjoy babysitting?”. Now i’m not naive enough to think that childcare is the be all and end all for all of our sitter’s. What often makes them fantastic babysitters is their interests, extra-curricular activities and their growing careers. I know that they are babysitting in order to earn some money in a flexible way but should that be the only reason? No! Unless I hear genuine enthusiasm for spending time in the company of children then there is no way they’re going to make it through. You can tell immediately if an applicant truly enjoys looking after children – their eyes light up and there is always a funny or sweet story to share. They use the names of the children they have looked after and can describe in detail the fun activities they have carried out together and what their roles as a babysitter have entailed.

Tip 4: Don’t apply for a job unless you like the sound of the company and your role within it, as well as the conditions of the job. Your interviewer will want to hear your enthusiasm just as much as your previous experience. It counts for a lot, and is make or break with BOKAC!

Luckily i've never met someone with anything as horrifying as bad table manners...

Luckily i’ve never met someone with anything as horrifying as bad table manners!

So if you have ever wondered why BOKAC has only a limited number of babysitters on the books (most agencies have well over 100, some have thousands whereas we usually have 25-35) – this is why! We only take on babysitters who are experienced, listen to and follow instructions and who have a genuine interest in looking after children as well as an appreciation of BOKAC as a service.

Do you experience similar problems interviewing or perhaps you have had interesting experiences being interviewed yourself? I’d love to hear from you at acameron@bokac.co.uk

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