How To Prepare For A Teaching Assistant Job Interview
When you finally get that interview call for the job of a teaching assistant, you’re already half-way there. The interviewers are aware of your qualifications and an in- person discussion is all it takes to close the deal.
As in most cases, the process varies with each school. Some interviews are formal in nature while most others comprise two parts. In the first round, the panellists usually target at knowing more about you. They are likely to ask a fundamental set of questions about your background, prior experience etc. The second round is more practical in nature wherein you’ll be tested for your classroom skills.
In the second round, you will probably be asked to handle a group of kids, so as to check your fitment into the role. In case of a formal process, the interviewers usually consist of the head- teacher, a governor, teachers or sometimes, an existing TA.
They’re likely to take turns in probing you, while taking notes. This serves a dual purpose of keeping a legal record of the entire process and making sure they remember the interaction as it helps them compare candidates.
Some questions may be hypothetical or behavioural in nature, for instance, your take on managing various classroom situations, bad behaviour, sharing feedback etc. Other than that, you will be asked about things you might’ve written in your application, so be ready to give an in-depth explanation if required.
Towards the end, they may ask if you have any questions. Make use of the opportunity and ask about relevant things such as a typical workday in school, future plans and initiatives etc. that showcases your interest in the job.
Formal interview preparation
Practice makes one perfect and if you want to nail that interview, practice is all you need to do. Take the help of your friends or family members. Have them interview you and share their true opinion. There are mock questions available online to give you an idea of the topics you should prepare.
Put together your answers carefully by incorporating experiences that highlight your competencies in various domains like teamwork, communication, managing conflicts etc.?
Expected Practical Activity
It’s quite a regular practice in most schools which requires you to deal with children as the practical segment of the process, while the panellists observe you.
If you come with little or zero experience, you will be guided on how to go about it. If you’re relatively experienced, you might be requested to prepare some activities for the kids in advance.Keep in mind the level of the students (primary or secondary) and engage them accordingly.
Preparing for activities
The best technique to adapt to children is to interact with them at children’s clubs, local schools etc. It will not only boost your confidence but also help give a broad idea on what to expect when dealing with kids.
Come up with various methods in which you can make learning easier, more fun and interactive for the children, have them concentrate in class and cope with problematic behaviour.
If you have to prepare a given task in advance, chalk it out and rehearse with family and friends. Take feedback and work on improving it.You can take help of the material at National Curriculum Frameworks & Resources.
What to wear
In order to feel confident and give your best during the interview, it’s important to dress comfortably. However, clothes say a lot about your personality and make a lasting impression. In this scenario, a smart skirt, trousers or a suit is your best bet.
What to carry with you
It is important that you carry the following with you, organized in the order you’ll probably need them-
- A copy each of your application and resume
- Documents such as your ID proof and address proof
- Copies of your educational and any other relevant certificates
- If you’ve to perform an activity, take along all the required material- do not count on the school to provide
- A notepad and a pen, in case you need to write down any important points post the interview
Usually, all that you need to take will be communicated by the school in advance, but in case you have the slightest doubt, it’s best to call up and confirm.
Keep in mind that the interview process will start as soon as you enter the school grounds- much before you sit in front of the panel. Everyone you come across, be it the students, the administrative staff, the secretaries or the other teachers, will form first impressions. It is advisable to arrive ahead of the interview slot and use the time wisely to engage with the children and be courteous to everyone.
When preparing for the interview of a teaching assistant, it is always better to try out one or two mock interviews. Before attending the interview, trying to answer a wide variety of questions that may be asked during the interview is a good option.
Such mock interviews will give you an idea on how you can draw from the experience gained so far to impress upon the interviewers that you would be the best candidate for the post. The rehearsals will also help you to fell less anxious and more confident about attending the interview.
How to answer the questions for a teaching assistant interview?
Take a few moments to compose your answer. A pause would be more preferable to the interviewers than a reply that is not coherent.Wherever possible, try to give practical examples. Your answers will be more plausible if you back it with experience from previous positions.
Answer Questions Using the SAR Technique
S -Situation: Describe a situation you faced – the example should be specific involving either something related to children or some other aspect of your experience.
A – Action: Describe your actions during the situation. You should take care to mention only what was done by you and not what was done as a team or what you might do.
R – Result: Describe what results were achieved. What were the effects of the action you had taken, why it succeeded and what you might do differently the next time?
When the interview ends, you would get the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Take this opportunity to understand the areas that you are not very clear on. To show your interest in the school and the opportunity being offered to work there, keep ready a couple of questions beforehand.
Question Bank for Teaching Assistants
Given below are some questions that you can practise answering with a friend. Ask the friend to give you a feedback so that you can rectify any mistakes. Keep in mind you’re your goal is to showcase your experience and skills and help the interviewers to know you better and understand why you would make a good teaching assistant.
- What, according to you, is a TA’s role?
- Why is the role important?
- Why do you wish to become a TA?
- Why do you think you would make a good TA?
- Would you find a TA post fulfilling? Why?
- What are the challenges that you think you would have to face?
- Why do you wish to work at this school?
- Do you know about this school? What makes it different from other schools?
- Would working in this school make you feel proud? If so, why?
Your Skills, Experience and Personality
- What is your experience from working along with children?
- Do you love working with children? Why?
- Can you give us an example of your successful work with a group of children?
- Do you feel communication with children is easy?
- What experience from your previous jobs can you bring to your work at this organisation?
- Can you give us an example of your effective work as a team member?
- How good are your organising skills?
Communication and Management of Difficult Situations
- Can you communicate with the parents in an effective manner?
- In case a conflict arises with parents or colleagues, how would you deal with it?
- Give us an example of when something went wrong when you were with a group of students. What did you do to rectify the situation?
- If a child was making trouble in class, what would you do?
- If a student complained of boredom, what would you do?
- Tell us of a time when you used your initiative to remedy a difficult situation
- What would you do when some children are upset and angry after a playground dispute and it is affecting the lesson?
Teaching and Teaching Support
- What can you do to support the reading habit in children?
- How can you understand if the children have assimilated something from the task that they have just completed?
- Does learning and fun go hand in hand?
- What can be done to engage a pupil who is demotivated?
- To help a student who when compared to his peers is struggling a lot, what ideas can be used?
- Do you have specific knowledge in any area, like maths or a second language? If yes, how can it be used in the classroom?
- How do we assess what the students have learnt?
- Is learning assessment important? If yes, why?
- What constitutes a good lesson?
- What can be done to stretch the most talented and gifted learners?
- What can be done to encourage pupils who are reluctant readers?
- What creative ideas can you give to help students who struggle with math?
- What would you do to help a student who is struggling to complete a specific task?
- Was there a situation in any of your previous jobs where you felt uncomfortable with the way a colleague was behaving towards children?
- What concerns did you have, what did you do and how was the issue resolved?
- A key part of a TA’s work is safeguarding the children. Give some examples on what you would do to contribute towards making the organisation safer for the children.
- Give an example of when a child’s behaviour was a cause of concern and how you dealt with it. Did you involve anyone else to help resolve the issue?