According to a 2019 DFE research study[i], a huge 28% of the school workforce is made up of teaching assistants.
Education is a sought-after field and with many candidates looking to fill TA roles. In this article, we will be looking at the top seven most common teaching assistant interview questions and exploring the best ways you can answer them to maximise your chances of securing a teaching assistant job.
The first three questions are introductory- they give the interviewer a basic idea of your knowledge of the role and your reasons for wanting to work as a teaching assistant. First impressions matter, so you should make sure to prepare for these questions properly.
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1) What does a teaching assistant do?
To put it simply- what doesn’t a teaching assistant do? A teaching assistant should be ready at all times to assist the class teacher in the delivery of education, in whatever form the teacher requires. This could vary from day to day, but some key examples would be; marking attendance, setting up activities, working with individuals who need extra support, making classroom displays…the list could go on! It is important to have a clear outline of the role in order to be best prepared for the role; higher level teaching assistants may have more responsibility for supervising the class when needed, but this is unlikely to be the case for a new or less qualified TA. A teaching assistant should be on hand to make sure things run smoothly whilst the class teacher is teaching!
Example Answer: A teaching assistant should be ready to assist the class teacher in whatever task they require, whenever they require it. This can be different at different times, but a TA should be ready to help set up tasks, support children with learning and perform basic classroom admin.
This answer shows off any knowledge you have of the role, as well as assuring the interviewer you are thoroughly versed in the duties of a TA.
2) Why do you want to become a teaching assistant?
Being a teaching assistant has its challenges. Most people who work in this role do so because they are passionate about working with children and helping them progress through their learning. It is important to remember that education is holistic, and a TA may be required to do additional tasks to help students reach their full potential. This question is great for showing your personal reasons for wanting to work in this field.
Your answer should be personalized to you and not just what you think the interviewer wants to hear. It is a chance to make an impression and drive home the contributions you can make to the classroom and the learning of children as a whole.
Example Answer: I want to make a difference in the lives of children by supporting them in their education. I can achieve this by doing my best to make the teacher’s job easier, leaving them to focus on the teaching. I love working with children and that love for the job would give me so much enjoyment.
Showing your passion for the role will make you stand out as a candidate.
Read More: How to Become a Teaching Assistant
3) Why do you think you’d be a good teaching assistant?
One of the most common teaching assistant interview questions, this question allows you to show off your professional skills, demonstrate your knowledge and divulge your passion for the role. The expected answers relating to organisational skills, time-keeping, and enjoying working with children are all great, but to really impress the interviewer your answer should be more personalised.
Example Answer: A good TA should have a core set of skills that makes them useful in the classroom. These should include organisational skills, being able to manage behaviour, work under pressure to name a few, but I believe I would be a good teaching assistant because I am able to put my passion for education and love of working with children into practice. This will put me in the optimal position to be an outstanding teaching assistant and make me an asset to whichever teacher I am supporting.
This answer not only displays your professional skillset, but it also reaffirms your reasons for wanting to attain the role through personal beliefs and experiences.
4) Could you tell us about your experience of working with children?
Experience working with children is crucial when wanting to secure a teaching assistant role. It is important to remember that any experience counts, whether it be paid or voluntary, in a school setting or another environment. Depending on the environment you have worked in previously, you may have developed skills that are an asset to becoming a TA. These are good things to mention in your answer.
Example Answer: I haven’t worked in an education setting before, but through babysitting jobs, work experience, and spending time with the children of family members and friends, I have realised that the enjoyment and satisfaction I get from working with children is something I would like to develop into a career path.
This gives the interviewer two things they are looking for: honesty and an insight into previous experience with children. It is important not to embellish on the experience you have had, if it isn’t a lot then don’t worry! The other questions give you plenty of opportunities to highlight your passion for the role as well as the skillset you have.
5) What would you do if a student disrupted the class?
This question is one that interviewers are always interested to hear the answer to! Behaviour management is an important part of the TA role and you should feel confident in responding to challenging or disruptive behaviour, even if it just involves you managing the class whilst the teacher deals with the situation. It also gives the interviewer an idea of how you would behave under pressure.
Example Answer: I feel confident in my abilities to help other children continue in their learning whilst the class teacher deals with the situation. I am also confident in being able to manage behaviour when working with individuals or small groups.
6) How can you ensure the safety of children in the classroom?
This is a great way to show off your knowledge of health and safety. Whichever qualifications you hold, you will have learned about the importance of health and safety in the school setting. It’s good to show your understanding of policies and procedures that relate to ensuring the classroom is a safe environment.
Example Answer: Having knowledge of school policies and procedures, as well as an understanding of health & safety, will ensure that I can help the teacher to make the classroom safe for everybody. Being able to spot signs of safeguarding issues including bullying, are also assets to ensuring the safety of children both inside and outside of the classroom.
Here you have shown your understanding of policies and procedures, as well as added in your knowledge of safeguarding, which is extremely important in a school setting.
7) What would you do if you strongly disagreed with a teacher’s actions in the classroom?
This question can be a bit daunting! It is designed to see how you would handle a difficult situation and gives an indicator of your problem-solving skills. You may experience situations where you think a student is being treated unfairly, or you may disagree with the way the class teacher has handled a situation.
Example Answer: Depending on the dynamics of the situation, I would voice any concerns to the teacher themselves. If that wasn’t an appropriate cause of action, I would be confident in sharing my thoughts with SLT or other parties.
Be confident in your abilities
Throughout the interview process, you will be asked many questions that are designed to give an insight into your knowledge of the role, as well as questions to determine what you have learned from your experience working with children. A good answer should show off your skills and knowledge and should include something personal to yourself if appropriate- this is something that may make you stand out in the interviewer’s mind. Confidence is key; believe in yourself, show your passion for the role, and you are on the way to securing that desired role.