Becoming a teaching assistant promises a rewarding and varied career. Tasked with supporting young people who need extra help, the work is fulfilling and engaging, and no two days are the same.
If you’ve recently completed a teaching assistant qualification, it’s safe to assume that the next task on your to-do list is finding a position within your chosen field. But with hundreds of other applicants to contend with, it’s crucial that you take a proactive approach to landing your coveted role.
To boost your chances of success, we’ve put together a guide on common teaching assistant interview questions and how best to answer them. Offering practical guidance and insight, it’s a great resource that can help you nail that interview and showcase your attributes.
General Interview Questions
Let’s begin by taking a look at four typical questions you may be asked during a teaching assistant interview. These are used to assess your character, drive and motivation for applying for a specific role, so positivity and enthusiasm are key.
Question 1: Why do you want to become a teaching assistant?
Often, the simplest interview questions are the hardest to answer, which is why preparation is so important. Think carefully about what motivated you to pursue a career as a teaching assistant; perhaps you received additional tutorage at school? Or you’ve always wanted to work with children who need extra guidance and support?
Question 2: Why do you want to work at this school?
Among the trickiest interview questions to get right; you need to strike a balance between showing awareness for the school’s reputation and achievements, without pandering. Before the interview, find out as much as you can about the school from their website. Not only does this demonstrate your passion and proactive approach, but it allows you to schmooze based on fact.
Question 3: Why do you think you’d make a good teaching assistant?
Talking about ourselves can be challenging. Before the interview, identify your attributes and strengths, and align these with what the school is looking for. Think about the qualities that a teaching assistant should possess; patience, empathy, approachability and a caring nature are all attributes that you should be looking to showcase within your answer.
Question 4: What is the purpose of a teaching assistant?
Here, interviewers are looking to assess your understanding of a TA’s function, and how they can have a positive impact within the classroom. Lean on your knowledge and training here; what is the primary reason for teaching assistants to be present in schools? Think about the value they bring, and the support they can offer to students with greater needs than others.
Skills and Knowledge-Based Questions
As part of a TA interview, school leaders will be keen to assess your skills and knowledge. Given you’ll be working closely alongside children from all walks of life, they’ll want to see that you have plenty of skills and aptitude to bring to the table.
Question 1: How would you contribute to making the classroom a safer environment for children?
Here, school leaders are looking to assess your knowledge of safeguarding, which will undoubtedly be a significant part of your day-to-day role. Ahead of the interview, research the current trends in effective safeguarding, and demonstrate your skills by giving an example of how you would leverage the latest tactics to help protect children in and out of the classroom.
Question 2: To what extent do you think it matters that children find school enjoyable?
The short answer here is, of course, to a great extent, but you’ll need to go deeper than that. A TA’s role is to ensure that all children, regardless of background, gain a positive experience in the classroom, so come up with an example situation whereby you can demonstrate your understanding of this important issue.
Question 3: What three strategies would you use to resolve problematic behaviour?
This is an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge and training, so be sure to revise course material ahead of the interview. Resolving poor behaviour is a principal duty for any TA, requiring a deft hand and an empathetic, patient approach. Come up with simple strategies you can use to curb disruption, such as separating children and investigating root-cause issues.
Question 4: Which day-to-day situations do you think will prove the most challenging?
Here, interviewers are looking to determine that you understand the responsibility of being a teaching assistant, so be honest and forthcoming in your response. Recognising that the role will bring challenges and upsets shows maturity and understanding, and that you’re aware of the gravity of the position. Set out a small handful of situations and demonstrate how you would approach them.
Scenario-Based Competency Questions
Scenario questions are very common in teaching assistant interviews, because it’s hard to gauge a person’s aptitude without putting them in a room full of children. Be prepared to lean heavily on your training and knowledge here and revise heavily ahead of the interview to deal with any curve-ball situations thrown your way.
Here are a few examples of some typical scenario-based competency questions which you may be asked as part of your interview:
- A new student has joined your class who speaks little English. What strategies would you use to support them?
- A student has fallen in the playground but is reluctant to see the school nurse. What might this tell us about their welfare and safeguarding, and how would you take the situation further?
- A student you’re tutoring appears bored and disinterested in the work. What would you do to engage them in their studies?
- A parent approaches you about a problem they’re having at home with their child. How would you proceed and what measures would you put in place to resolve the issue?
- Several students are misbehaving in class and disrupting the lesson. How would you work to support the teacher and prevent the disruption from impacting on the learning of others?
- A child is behaving in a way that is causing you concern. What steps would you take to make sure they receive the care and attention they need?
- Evidence arises that a child is being bullied. How do you handle the situation?
- A child you’re tutoring boasts about bad behaviour outside of school. What steps do you take?
These are just a few examples of the types of competency-based questions you may be asked in a teaching assistant interview. Remember, preparation is key if you want to ace these types of questions, so go back to your course material and remain mindful of best-practice advice before you face the interview panel.
Fulfilling, challenging and worthwhile; a career as a teaching assistant is an invaluable profession. If you aspire to work with children and have the patience and knowledge needed for the job, Oxbridge can help you achieve your TA ambitions with a range of teaching assistant courses and training programmes.