How to recruit an assistant

Want to hire an assistant to grow your business? How and where should you advertise? How could you interview an assistant?

Laura House avatar
Written by Laura House
Updated over a week ago

Congratulations! You're looking to grow your business and to hire an assistant - this is a great milestone and certainly one to celebrate. So how do you go about recruiting a great person to support you?

Things to think about before you advertise:

  • What makes your tiney home special? What is your ethos for the kind of environment you create in your setting? It will be important to make this clear in your advertising for the vacancy and in your search for the right candidate to support you as an assistant. You want someone who will complement your approach, share your passion for working with children, and fit in well with your home nursery.

  • What level of prior experience are you looking for? Many childminders register family members as assistants to support for short periods, and others look for assistants with prior experience in Early Years.

    • Do you need a part-time assistant to support you at key moments like school drop-offs and pick-ups? Do you need someone at mealtimes to help cook and serve food? In these instances, you may want to adjust the expectations and job specification to suit the role you're recruiting for.

    • Do you need a full-time assistant to support you to offer more daytime spaces for young children aged 0-5? If the assistant will be a Key Person for one or more children in your setting, you will need to find someone with Early Years experience and the capacity to carry out this important educational role; or it will be your responsibility to train and support them to carry out this role so they can provide a consistent educational experience for the children in your setting.

  • Do the maths - What rate will you be able to pay your assistant? Consider how your capacity may shift in coming months and how this would influence the rate you're able to offer. Remember to take into account your own tax and NI contributions, and the fact that you'll have responsibility for sick pay and pension.

  • Make sure you fully understand what being an employer means - see our separate article on this for more advice.

  • When you've considered all of these points, it's now time to draft your Job Specification! You can see an example at the bottom of this article, which you could use as a template and adapt to suit your specific needs.

Where can I advertise?

  • Use your social media platforms to indicate that your nursery is growing and that you're looking to take on an assistant. Give a flavour of your ethos and vision so that you're attracting people who care about the same things as you!

    • 'Anna's tiney home is growing and we're expanding our team! We care passionately about supporting children's early learning through playful experiences and lots of time outdoors. If you share this passion, contact us to find out more about joining us as an Assistant'

  • Use local job pages on social media and Facebook

  • Use your own networks and ask friends and family to share your job advert

How could you interview your assistant?

Here are some things you might want to think about when deciding what questions you want to ask your candidate/s, and some example questions that you can adapt to build up your own list of questions to ask at interview.

  1. Consider what questions you want to ask to get a really good understanding of whether or not the candidate will be a good fit for your nursery.

    • At our home nursery, it's really important to us that X & Y (for example, that children have creative opportunities for open-ended play, and that they are supported to be independent). Tell me a little bit about what those things mean to you, and how you might contribute to these aspects of the home nursery.

    • At our home nursery, it's really important that we offer an inclusive environment where all children are valued and able to participate actively. Tell me a bit about what you would do as an assistant to support this?

    • It's really important to us that we regularly give and receive feedback. Tell me about a time when you received some feedback and how you acted upon it.

    • It's really important that we communicate regularly with children's parents/carers. Tell me a bit about how you would build a strong positive relationship with the parents of the children you'll be working with?

  2. Understand their motivation for working with children - you want someone who cares passionately about helping young children to learn:

    • Tell me a little bit about why you would like to work with children

    • What impact you'd like to have on the children you work with?

  3. Understand about their prior experience that would be relevant to the role:

    • Please tell me about your prior experience in caring/education support roles, and how you think these would help you as a childminding assistant

  4. Check they've got an accurate understanding of what they will be doing as an assistant, so you're on the same page and your expectations match:

    • Which aspects of the assistant role do you think you'd enjoy most, and why?

    • Which aspects do of the assistant role you think you'd find the most challenging, and why?

  5. Ask the candidate if they have any questions - it's a two-way process and they'll need to feel comfortable with you and that your home nursery will be an attractive place for them to work! It's a good idea to tell them a bit about what your own role will be in supporting your assistant's professional development, and what sort of professional growth opportunities you can offer them.

You may decide to do this as an online interview, or - ideally - an in-person visit to your home nursery when there are no children present to show them around. When they arrive, make sure they feel comfortable - some nerves are to be expected but you want to help them feel as relaxed as possible so you they're able to show their best selves at the interview. Offering a cup of tea and giving them a tour of your nursery setting at the start can be a good way of helping the candidate feel at ease, and they can learn a bit more about exactly what you're looking for.

When you've found a candidate that you're happy with, read about how to register them as an assistant so you can get started working with them as soon as possible!

Sample Assistant Job Specification:

This Job specification is designed as a guide only, please feel free to edit it to suit your needs and your setting. If you require early or late hours and want to add in pay or any additional benefits then please feel free to do so.

Job Description

Job Title: Childminding Assistant (tiney home nursery name)

Responsible to: (you) The childminder

Salary: (Consider if you want this to be per hour/ annual)

Hours: When do you want (or need) your assistant to work? For example this could be after school only, or certain days or hours in a week?

The role and responsibilities:

The assistant will work closely with the childminder in a small but busy childcare setting. The business is growing and I am looking for someone to be involved in all aspects of the business, from looking after the children, assisting with settling in new starters, engaging with parents, writing observations and planning next steps in accordance with EYFS guidelines. You will help me to adhere to the terms of my registration and help me to grow the business over time.

As a childminding assistant you may have your own key children in the setting and will be expected to ensure they receive the highest standards of care at all times.

You will have previous knowledge of the EYFS requirements, development matters and planning and observations.

You will be someone who is passionate about and comfortable interacting with children and communicating clearly with their families. You will be able to broach difficult subjects in a calm and caring way. You will be creative and playful with a commitment to tiney's educational philosophy of learning through play and outdoor learning. You will be a team player who is happy to muck in and get things done.

Main tasks:

  • caring for children in accordance with EYFS

  • planning activities,

  • writing observations

  • Preparing food and snacks

  • assisting the childminder on outings / at school pickup times

  • assisting with larger observations and reports

  • attending regular training

Assistant requirements:

You must have:

  • Previous experience of working with children.

  • A warm personality and commitment to positive, gentle interactions with children.

  • An understanding of technology and using an app for observations and communicating with parents.

  • A strong commitment to safeguarding children is essential, as is willingness to attend ongoing training, and respect for the views and needs of children and their families.

  • Tiney childminders are committed to running diverse and fully inclusive settings and all staff will be expected to uphold these values at all times.

Nice to haves:

  • Previous experience working with children in a professional capacity

  • An existing Early Years qualification (possibly level 3).

Want to find out more? You can watch this webinar recording of a session led by Sam Beech, a tiney home leader, on working with an assistant and how she does it!

Passcode: 3!*cU3&7

Did this answer your question?