4.3 Interview Preparation

What Is It?

The staff selection process should be as thorough and thoughtful as possible. Many organizations form a hiring team or selection committee for this process. The team should consist of individuals who are familiar with the position and the organization, and able to evaluate the “fit” between the job and the candidate. EHS and HS programs typically include parents, others with the same position (home visitors), and the hiring supervisor on the selection committee. Gather information about potential candidates before, during, and after the interview.

Commongood Careers1 suggests two pre-interview activities: creating a résumé-screening worksheet to complete for every application, and doing phone screens. (For more information about these activities, see “Developing a Search Strategy: Your Roadmap for Hiring” in the Learn More section).

After the interview, carefully screen references and take the time to speak with former employers. Although former employers are not legally required to share information, and some may have a company policy disallowing such conversations, it is always a good idea to talk to references as part of the hiring process. To learn more from former employers about the candidate’s relationship readiness, ask questions such as the following:

  • Compared to other staff, how was this person at handling differences between him/herself and other staff?
  • Did this person seem to work better with a certain type of parent or child? How could you tell?
  • Compared to other staff, how was this person at responding productively to frustrated or upset parents or young children? What specific skills did you see?
  • Over time, how did this person’s relationships with coworkers change?

  1. Commongood Careers, "Developing a Search Strategy: Your Roadmap for Hiring" (2015), https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/operations/mang-sys/human-resources/DevelopingaSear.htm;c2hhdW5fYWRtaW4= 

Experience It

Interview Strategy

Redmond Reams, PhD, licensed psychologist, Oregon Health and Science University Division of Child Psychiatry and Portland State University Graduate Certificate Program in Infant/Toddler Mental Health, and Jennifer Boss, director, Early Head Start National Resource Center, do a role play to demonstrate interviewing relationship-ready staff.

The following handout is referred to as Handout 4 in the video clip.

Handout 4 - Interview questions to assess relationship-readiness

Part 1:

Think of a client you have had a substantial relationship with before and then I am going to ask you some questions about that client and your relationship

Selected questions:

  • Describe your relationship with this child
  • I’d like you to choose five adjectives that reflect your relationship with this child. This might take some time and then I’m going to ask you why you chose them.
  • What was going on inside the child when he or she was upset?
  • How did you respond when this child was upset?
  • How did it affect you on the inside when this child was upset?
  • Why did you choose this child to talk about?

Part 2:

Think of a specific difficulty you have had with a colleague or supervisor Selected questions:

  • Please describe what you think was going on in that situation.
  • What were your feelings?
  • Describe how you believe the other person saw this situation differently from you.
  • If you had the situation to do over again, what would you do differently?

Based on the Adult Attachment Interview developed by Mary Main.

Reflection Questions

  1. How rich and elaborate are the descriptions of other people? Explain.
  2. How much does the intervewee seem emotionally connected to the person being discussed?
  3. How closely does this interviewing style resemble how you interview potential staff?
  4. How would you change your interview techniques based on what you have heard?

Learn More

When faced with a vacant position, most managers want to hire as quickly. This is rarely an effective practice. Program directors and human resources managers may use this resource to enhance their search strategies for hiring and retaining qualified staff. This article outlines each phase of an effective search strategy.