Teaching Assistant Job Interview Questions and Answers
How to answer teaching assistant interview questions
The best way to succeed at any interview is to prepare in advance. So, if you have an interview for a teaching assistant job coming up soon, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about how you’d answer common questions that school HR managers are likely to ask.
Of course, you won’t be able to anticipate every question, but if you have a good set of examples to answer the common types, you’ll often find you can tailor these to the query at hand. More important that anything is being able to answer questions with specific examples and evidence. Hiring managers want to hear proof that you can do what you claim, so being able to back your answers up with case studies is really useful.
When you’ve got a few years’ experience as a Teaching Assistant (TA) under your belt, you should already have a good bank of examples you can give. On the other hand, as a new TA you will need to draw on work experience, any recent training you’ve completed and examples from other areas of your employment or personal history.
To help you prepare, we’ve put together our essential advice and interview tips.
Types of teaching assistant interview questions
HR departments at schools and nurseries are looking for evidence of specific skills, as well as more general proof of your abilities, decision making and knowledge of TA best practice. To find out this information, they’re likely to ask a range of questions.
Let’s look in more detail at possible responses to the most common questions teaching assistant candidates will encounter.
Questions about behaviour
Example question: “Two children are constantly disrupting a lesson. How would you deal with this?”
What the interviewer is really asking: They want to see what strategies you take to resolve problematic behaviour.
Example response: “In advance of this situation, myself and the teacher would of course have discussed the way we would deal with this kind of common situation. That said, the best approach is normally to separate the disruptive pupils and put them on opposite sides of the class so they can continue to learn.”
Child safety questions
Example: “A child seems in pain after an incident in the playground, yet doesn’t want to go to the school nurse. What should you do?”
What the interviewer is really asking: They want to find out how you make decisions about a child’s welfare.
Example response: “I would try and talk to the child to find out more about the cause of the pain. If it seemed serious, I would encourage them of their own will to visit the nurse and promise to accompany them to provide support so they feel confident, rather than going alone.”
Questions about building relationships with children
Example: “A child says she is bored of a task and doesn’t want to work anymore. How would you respond?”
What the interviewer is really asking: They want to see how you encourage and motivate children.
Example response: “At my last job we were doing a lesson on the Aztecs and colouring in Aztec temples, but one child kept on leaving his desk to try and play in the play area. I decided to sit down with the child and suggested we each do half the colouring, so it would be quicker. This got him engaged and by the end he was much more interested in the task and wanted to show off the picture to the teacher too.”
Question about your views of teaching
Example: “What is the purpose of a TA?”
What the interviewer is really asking: These kinds of questions don’t always have a right or wrong answer. Instead, they’re about finding out if you would be a right fit for the school.
Example response: “For me, being a teaching assistant is about making school more valuable for all students. It’s about helping children who might be bored or frustrated to ensure they don’t disrupt the rest of the class, while also ensuring they get more out of going to school, too. “
Questions about specific skills
Example: “Tell us about your knowledge of supporting children who speak little English.”
What the interviewer is really asking: This is a question about the specifics of the job at hand. They are looking for proof you can perform key tasks as described in the job description.
Example response: “In my last position at Inner City School I gained extensive exposure working with children from many different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. I completed a course on helping children for whom English is a second language and helped many make real progress. For instance, one Greek child I worked with joined the school barely able to speak a word of English, but by the end of his first year and many hours talking one-to-one, he was much more confident and could express himself much more easily.”
We hope these tips have helped you feel ready and eager for your next interview! While you wait, why not get more interviews lined up? Find more teaching assistant jobs and read our expert advice on preparing for interview.