Interview techniques for teaching assistants
Interviewing for any new role can be tough, but adequate preparation and keeping a cool head can make a big difference when it comes to bagging your next teaching assistant role.
Regardless of if you’re a teaching assistant who is just starting out, or if you bring a wealth of experience to the interview table, there are a number of golden rules that you should follow.
Before attending the interview, look at the school’s presence online and get to know its policies, key facts and figures and other important information. This will ultimately help you to speak confidently about the place where you wish to work and to answer questions you may be asked.
Part of this includes reading the school policies on behaviour and safeguarding, as these will often vary from school to school as different approaches are used.
You should plan your journey to the school or location of the interview so that you know how long the journey should take. This way you can leave plenty of time to travel and can ensure you arrive at your interview on time.
We understand that interviews for any role can be a stressful time, but practising questions and answers with a friend or family member can help you prepare for what is to come. Think about the key information to include for specific questions and make sure you link your skills to the teaching assistant role you are applying for.
What to wear to the interview
It’s important to dress smartly at an interview, and while a full suit or business attire may not be necessary to achieve this goal, you should certainly avoid clothing such as t-shirts, and especially trainers.
What to take with you
You will be expected to have the relevant documentation with you on the day of the interview. Alongside your ID, you will need to show you have been DBS checked and should have the certificate to prove it.
Think about if you require any further paperwork for the interview too – perhaps something requested by the school – and ensure you have to hand if it is needed.
During the interview
When you get asked a question, you should take time to compose yourself and think about what you want to say. Keep things concise and be sure to answer the question asked. If you’re unsure about what to include in an answer, refer to the teaching assistant standards and the four main themes (below) as these help to define the role and purpose of a teaching assistant.
- Personal and professional conduct
- Knowledge and understanding
- Teaching and learning
- Working with others
You’ll often be invited to ask questions at the end of the interview and this is an ideal opportunity for you to find out more about the role, the school and those you could be working with. However, avoid asking about money – these discussions can follow at a later stage – and don’t ask when you can expect to be told that you ‘have’ the job. Instead, ask when a decision on the position is likely to be made.
You should also be prepared to help out with an activity in a classroom, as it is likely the school will want to see how you cope with being put in such a situation. This is a chance for you to showcase your skills as a teaching assistant and to make a fantastic impression to a potential employer.
Questions to prepare for
Why do you want to be a teaching assistant?
There could be any number of reasons for wanting a job as a teaching assistant, but you should be personal when you respond. Think about your own experiences from school or from previous roles and reference their impact upon you.
Why do you think you’d be a good teaching assistant?
Think about the qualities that all great teaching assistants have – creative, hardworking, approachable, and great with children – and provide examples of how you represent those qualities.
Why do you want to work at this school?
This is where your research can come in useful – talk about what makes the school standout, mention any specific achievements and show that you are serious about the role in the long term.
Tell us about a time you worked together with children.
As the role will require close working with children, think back to where you were able to drive positive outcomes with your actions if you have worked with children before. Or if you have not, identify situations where you spent time with children and refer back to those experiences.
What would you do is a student was disruptive in class?
Give plenty of thought to how you would work in conjunction with a teacher in this situation and look for positive methods of dealing with it where possible. Discipline is important, but it isn’t the only means of overcoming a tricky situation.
Give examples of how you would contribute to making our school safer for children.
Given that every school has safeguarding responsibilities, you should relate your understanding of the relevant legislation and should highlight issues and situations to be watchful of. If you have children yourself, you may wish to ask them how they feel at school and then tackle their issues within your answer.
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