We’ve Got the Answers!
No matter how hard you try, you can never fully prepare yourself for an interview. However, in the time running up to the big day, it’s wise to arm yourself with possible answers and relevant information which may come in useful. If your teaching assistant interview is just around the corner, we’d recommend that you give yourself a bit of a head start. To start you off, we have collected seven popular teaching assistant interview questions and given our advice on how best to answer them. Have a read through, and let us know how you’d answer these…
1. Why do you want to be a teaching assistant?
People want to become teaching assistant for a number of reasons; however the main motivation behind this career is often the desire to work with children and help them reach their potential. While this is a great reason, an original and personal response is likely to be more memorable.
- Think back to your school days and try to identify how a teaching assistant or teacher helped you and suggest how you’d like to replicate that.
- Or how about drawing comparisons between the role of a teaching assistant and any previous roles you’ve had.
“The role of a teaching assistant is more challenging, varied and meaningful than anything I have done before. I want to work in a field where I can make a real difference to people’s lives and witness the positive impact of my work first hand. I remember how my year 6 teaching assistant spent so much time preparing me for my maths SATs exam. That help was invaluable and I want to be able to provide that for others.”
2. Why do you think you’d be a good TA?
Professional teaching assistants are expected to be hardworking, approachable, good with children and creative. While it is good to mention these traits, they are quite general. To improve your answer, we would advise that you provide specific examples of how you embody these qualities.
- It is also worth trying to think outside the box and identifying some less obvious qualities that will make you stand out.
- Make a list of things that teaching assistants do on a day to day basis. Go through this list and identify why you, specifically would be good at each thing.
“As well as being hardworking, approachable and good with children, I have a number of qualities which I could bring to the role. I am an extremely patient person and I am willing to spend as much time working on one subject, word or calculation as a child needs. I am also very imaginative. This allows me to come up with creative solutions, attractive displays and entertaining games to keep the children amused and focused.”
3. Why do you want to work at this school?
Schools are keen to employ staff who intend to stick around. Many employers will ask this question to check that you are serious about the school. They may even be testing what you know about the school.
- It’s good to do your research and have a couple of useful snippets of information up your sleeve. For example, if a school has excelled at something, you should mention it specifically.
- Head on to your local news website and search the name of the school. You might find details of any programmes, achievements or fundraising activities they’ve been involved in.
“I am particularly interested in working at this school because of its unwavering commitment to crafts, performances and extracurricular activities. I believe that creative subjects are just as important as academic ones and that children should be able to have fun whilst they learn. Due to the school’s positive reviews, I also believe there will be plenty of room here for me to develop professionally.”
4. Can you tell us about a time you worked together with children?
Naturally for this kind of role, employers will want to know about your relationships with children. If you have already worked with kids, you should have no trouble identifying a time where your actions lead to positive results. If you haven’t worked with children before, don’t worry.
- Think back to a time when you spent time with children in your family or friendship groups and try to draw from there.
- Something as simple as playing a game of hide and seek with your children or supervising your niece or nephew whilst they were doing their homework would count.
“Although I have no formal teaching assistant experience, I have worked with and cared for children on many occasions. Previously, I worked as a nanny for three young boys. My role would involve picking them up from school and minding them until their parents arrived home at 8pm. As they did not like doing their homework, I developed a game to help make the process more interesting for them. The game turned homework into a relay, where the children would have fun tasks to complete in-between questions. Before long, the children were the ones initiating homework.”
5. What makes a good lesson?
As a teaching assistant, you are not in charge of lesson planning, however it is still important to be aware of what a successful lesson looks like. If you can identify the important elements of a lesson, then you will be a more productive assistant.
- Think about everything that goes into a lesson. For example, the materials, seating arrangements, activities and classroom management all play a big part in a lesson.
- Draw from your past experience of either working or studying in a school. Discuss lessons that you think worked and those you didn’t.
“A good lesson depends on many different factors. One day something can work and the next day it might not. I think the most important factor to consider is preparation. If the teacher and the teaching assistants are fully prepared, then the lesson will usually be a success. One of my favourite lessons at school was when we were learning about the human body. Our teacher invented a game called ‘body part bingo’. It was really well prepared and so fun that we all managed to remember the specialised vocabulary that day. Of course, that lesson would not have been possible without the teaching assistant calming us down and checking our answers.”
6. What would you do if a pupil was disruptive in class?
It is extremely important for a teaching assistant to be able to work together with the teacher to diffuse disrupting situations. Obviously, a level of discipline is required; however there are a number of more effective ways that teaching assistants can resolve these issues.
- It may be worth suggesting some ulterior, more positive methods you might employ when dealing with the situation.
“As a teaching assistant, it is important to work together with the teacher to calm down disruptive children. In most cases, I would follow the agreed disciplinary strategy which had been laid out by the teacher. This may involve separating children or having a quiet discussion with a disruptive child. If a student was constantly disruptive, I might suggest to the teacher that we devise another way of tackling the issue. For example, we could attempt to reward the child for non-disruptive behaviour before they misbehave.”
7. Can you give me some examples of how you would contribute to making the school a safer environment for children?
All schools are responsible for safeguarding children. As a TA it is important that you are aware of this and are able to give examples of things to look out for and provide possible solutions to safeguarding problems.
- Research the current issues in safeguarding. Find out what common problems schools are facing at the moment.
- Discuss safety with a child in your family. Find out what makes them feel safe and incorporate this into your answer.
“First and foremost, I would make myself aware of the safeguarding systems in place in the school. I would then do my very best to identify anything which may be of concern, no matter how small it may be. Early identification of a problem can make all the difference. I would also see to it that any issues were reported to the correct authority. During this process, I would be considerate of the child’s feeling and wishes, making sure they were able to establish trust.”
Use the SAR method to answer your questions
Situation: Refer to the situation you were in. This should really be a particular example from your own experience. The scenario can either involve work with children or can draw on other aspects of your personal life.
Action: Explain clearly how you handled the situation. You take care to detail exactly what you did, not what you might do, or what you would do in the future.
Result: Talk about the results you accomplished. What were the consequences of your actions? Was it successful? If it happened again, how would you change it?