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Teaching assistant interview question bank

Career | Published 1 January, 2012

It’s a great idea to practice answering a wide range of questions which you might be asked at the interview

When you are preparing for your interview to become a teaching it’s a great idea to practice answering a wide range of questions which you might be asked at the interview. This will help you to get used to drawing on your previous experience to explain why you might be good at the role and will help to remove some of the nerves you might be feeling about the interview itself. 

How should you answer questions?

It’s OK to wait a moment to consider your answer. Your interviewers will prefer a pause than an answer that isn’t thought through. 

Try to draw on practical examples wherever possible – so if you’re asked “How would you deal with a child who was throwing paper around the classroom” try and think of a situation when you’ve had to deal with something similar and explain how you responded and why that was effective. Your answers will mean a whole lot more when they’re backed up with practical examples. 

Use the SAR technique to answer questions

S – Situation: Describe the situation you were in – this should be a specific example and can either involve work with children or can draw on other aspects of your experience, either previous roles, your family life or even your hobbies. It’s a good idea to draw on a wide variety of experiences if possible.

A – Action: Describe what you did in the situation. You should be very specific in outlining exactly what you did, not what you might do, or what eg a team as a whole did, but what you did.

R – Result: Describe the results you achieved – what was the effect of your action, why was it successful, what might you do differently next time if anything. 

An example of a question answered with and without the SAR technique

Interviewer: “How would you deal with a child who was throwing paper around the classroom?”

Interviewee (without SAR technique): “I would ask them firmly but calmly to stop. I would make sure he understood what he was meant to be doing as he might be acting up because he didn’t understand or was bored.”

Interviewee (with SAR technique): “We recently had a similar problem at the Scouts group I volunteer at. We were learning about how to care for different animals but a young boy kept throwing bits of his uniform around (Situation). I asked him to stop and then asked him if there was a problem and could I help him (Action). He said he didn’t understand what we were talking about because he had arrived a bit late so I brought him up to speed. Then he calmed down and joined in with the activity (Result).

Question bank for teaching assistants

Practice answering these questions on your own at first, and when you’re feeling more confident practice them with a trusted friend, asking for honest feedback. Remember that the aim is to demonstrate your skills and experience and to help your interviewers get to know you and understand why you’d make a great teaching assistant. 

The role of the teaching assistant

  • Why do you want to be a teaching assistant?
  • Why do you think you would be a good teaching assistant?
  • What do you think the role of a teaching assistant is?
  • What do you think will be the main activities you will do each day as a teaching assistant?
  • Why do you think the role of the teaching assistant is important?
  • Do you think you would find a teaching assistant role fulfilling? Why?
  • What do you think would be the challenges you would face in this role?
  • What do you think would be the highlights of the job?
  • Why do you want to be a teaching assistant?

The school

  • Why do you want to work at this school?
  • Are you familiar with this school? What do you think makes it special?
  • Would you be proud to be part of this school? Why?
  • What do you know about our school?

Your experience, skills and personality

  • What’s your experience of working with children?
  • Why do you enjoy working with children?
  • What experience could you bring from previous posts to your work at this school?
  • Do you find it easy to communicate with children?
  • Can you tell us about a time when you effectively worked as part of a team?
  • Are you good at organising yourself and other people?
  • Can you tell us about a time you successfully worked with a group of children?
  • How do you think you could use your creative skills in the classroom?

Communication and managing difficult situations

  • Do you think you would be able to effectively communicate with parents?
  • How would you manage conflict with colleagues or parents?
  • What would you do if a pupil was disruptive in class?
  • How would you respond if a pupil didn’t do as you asked them to?
  • Tell us about a time when you were with a group of children and something went wrong, how did you remedy the situation?
  • What would you do if a child complained they were bored?
  • What would you do if a child didn’t understand what they were supposed to be doing?
  • What would you do if two children were constantly talking and giggling and disrupting the class?
  • A group of pupils are angry and upset following a playground dispute.  It’s affecting the lesson, what would you do?
  • Tell us about a time you had to use your own initiative to rescue a difficult situation.

Teaching and supporting teaching

  • How could you support pupils’ reading?
  • How can you tell whether children have learnt something during the task they’ve just completed?
  • Does learning have to be fun?
  • How can we try and engage a demotivated pupil?
  • What ideas can we try to help a pupil who is struggling compared to their peers?
  • Do you have specific knowledge in any area for example a second language or a love of maths – if so how could you use it in the classroom?
  • How can we assess what pupils have learnt?
  • Is it important to assess learning? Why?
  • What makes a good lesson?
  • How can we stretch our most gifted and talented learners?
  • How do you think children learn best?
  • How can you encourage reluctant readers?
  • Do you have any creative ideas for helping pupils who are struggling with numeracy?
  • Do you have any interesting ideas of how we can display children’s work?
  • How would you feedback to a pupil who gets the right answer?
  • How would you respond to a pupil who gave a partially correct answer?
  • How would you feedback to a pupil who gave an incorrect answer?
  • How would you support a pupil who was struggling with a specific task?
  • What activities do you enjoy doing most with children?

There are no right or wrong answers – remember, your interviewers are not trying to catch you out. Think carefully about each answer you give and share as much about your relevant experience and characteristics as you can. If you don’t know the answer or have nothing to say, be honest rather than making something up. 

You will be given an opportunity to ask any questions you might have at the end of the interview. Use this opportunity to explore any areas you are unclear on. It is a good idea to think up a question or two beforehand that you can ask at this point to show that you are interested in the school and the role. 

Useful links for teaching assistant interview advice

The National Association of Teaching Assistants

TES Teaching Assistant forum

How to become a teaching assistant

Tips on applying for teaching assistant roles

Teaching assistant career development

Teaching assistant job interview advice

Typical teaching assistant job description – What does the job involve?

Becoming a higher level teaching assistant

Teaching assistant pay and conditions

Find a job as a teaching assistant on TES Jobs

View all the teaching assistant jobs

View other support positions

Don’t forget to set yourself up with a job alert for your chosen role so you will get the latest jobs emailed direct to your inbox as soon as they become available on TES Jobs. You have to register with TES to set up a job alert but registration is quick and free.

 


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Comment (1)

  • This article was very useful. It helped me to prepare very well, drawing upon experiences relating to the role description/specification and be confident in answering the questions asked. This article provided me with a starting point to prepare for my interview and the confidence I needed during the interview. As a result I got the job I wanted!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    0:30
    5 May, 2013

    mpnk30

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