So you’ve been invited to an interview for a job as a teaching assistant- congratulations! Working as a teaching assistant can be very rewarding and fantastic experience, especially if you are planning on becoming a teacher or any profession working with children. Here’s some tips to help you ace your teaching assistant interview.
How can I prepare?
There are lots of things you can do before your interview. In the long term, your best preparation is always through getting some experience working with children, such as through volunteering at a local children’s club. This experience is usually essential in getting an interview in the first place, and the more relevant experience you have, the more confidence you will have when it comes to entering the classroom. Experiences like these shine through in interviews for school positions.
The best way you can prepare what kind of things to say in your teaching assistant interview is to think about all your experiences and how you could draw on them to display your suitability for the role. What experiences have you had that show you can form strong relationships with children and young people? What experiences have you had that show strong communication? Think about the main criteria for the role and how you uniquely display each one.
Should I do any research?
It’s always a good idea to research the school to get a feel for the type of place it is. Ofsted reports are by no means the be-all-and-end-all, but they can give you a good indication of areas the school has particular strengths or weaknesses in.
Whether you will be working as a teaching assistant specifically focussing on SEN or not, you should do some research to brush up on your knowledge of special educational needs. As a TA, you will inevitably come across children with additional needs in every classroom and so having some understanding and sensitivity of SEN gives you an upper hand and provides you with essential knowledge for the classroom. Do some research on conditions such as ASD (autistic spectrum disorder), Asperger’s, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and Dyslexia.
What should I wear?
Like any interview, you should dress in a fairly formal manner. However, for a teaching assistant interview, it is best to wear something that is also comfortable as the interview may involve joining in or leading a classroom activity, sitting on the floor, or going outside. That means sensible shoes!
What should I bring?
The school should tell you what they will need you to bring on the day but these are the things you will usually need to have with you:
- A copy of your CV
- Your DBS certificate
- Your passport
- Any props you need for activities they may have asked you to plan.
What will the interview be like?
Interviews will differ in their formality depending on the school. Who you are interviewed by will also differ- you may be interviewed by the head teacher, a school governor, the SENCO or another member of staff. Some schools even have interview panels made up of students. (Don’t panic, the school will tell you in advance if this is the case!)
Your teaching assistant interview may often be in two parts. The first will normally be a traditional panel interview. The second is often in a more practical format in which you may be asked to lead an activity with a small group of children. In this type of interview, you will usually be told in advance to prepare an activity of your choice. This is an opportunity to show them how well you interact with pupils in a classroom environment.
What will I be asked?
On the whole, the four areas that you will be questioned on and should prepare for are:
- How well you understand the role
- How suitable you are for the role and school
- Your skills and experience
- Your personality and aspirations
To give you some idea of the types of questions you could be asked, here are 10 common teaching assistant interview questions and how to answer them.
- Why do you want to be a teaching assistant?
The interviewer wants to know what your motivations are and that you have a genuine passion for working with children in education.
- What do you think the role of a teaching assistant is?
The interviewer wants to see how well you understand the role. You need to show them that you understand the main duties such as assisting in class activities, providing support to students and helping create a supportive and positive classroom environment.
- Why do you think the role of a teaching assistant is important?
Here you need to show that you understand the significant role a teaching assistant can play within the classroom and wider school environment. Schools value a teaching assistant that can make a significant, positive contribution to the school and its pupils.
- Why do you want to work at this school?
This is an opportunity to show you’ve done some research on the school and to praise its strengths and anything that attracts you to the school.
- Why do you enjoy working with children?
If you don’t have a genuine desire to work with children, it will show. Having a passion for working with children or young people is an integral and essential part of working as a teaching assistant. Be honest and let your passion shine through!
- What experience can you bring from previous posts to this role?
This is your chance to show how suitable you are for the position. Use your employment, voluntary and personal experiences to display your skills in a) working with children b) resolving conflict and c) making positive contributions to the community.
- What would you do if a pupil was disruptive in class?
This is a very important question for interviewers because classroom behaviour management is a significant part of your role as a teaching assistant. The interviewer wants to know that you are confident in your ability to manage behaviour. Try to use an example in which you have positively resolved a situation in which a child you have worked with has been disobedient, difficult or disruptive.
- What would you do if a child disclosed something concerning to you?
Safeguarding is another big element of working as a teaching assistant. As a teaching assistant, you have a duty of care to protect your students. If a child discloses something concerning to you, such as bullying, abuse or neglect, you are expected to pass this information on to the school safeguarding lead, regardless of whether the child has asked you not to tell anyone.
- What are your future aspirations?
What they want to know is whether you are committed to the industry and how this role will help you in your future aspirations.
- Do you have any questions that you would like to ask?
This is your chance to get to know the role and school a bit better. It’s a good idea to prepare some questions you would like to ask beforehand, such as whether there are any training opportunities during your employment.
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