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Teaching Assistant Interview Questions

Are you about to attend an interview for a teaching assistant job?

Working as an assistant teacher is a good way to gain work experience in the education industry, gain classroom experience, as well as confidence around children.

Teaching assistant interviews can be rather in-depth. Interviewers need to make sure that candidates have the necessary skills and truly enjoy teaching children.

So, let’s take a look at some common teaching assistant interview questions and the best way to answer them.

teaching assistant interview questions

The STAR Method

The key to successfully answering interview questions for a teaching assistant position is making sure the answers are as complete as possible. Your answers should be formed of four main stages, each of which serves a different purpose. This is outlined by the STAR method, as explained below:

Situation

When answering a question, draw on an example from a specific situation. This helps to paint a picture for the interviewer that allows them to see your core skills in action. Ideally, the situation should involve working with children in some way.

the teaching assistant interview questions

Task

Briefly outline the challenge you needed to tackle in the situation. This could be handling a dispute in the classroom or winning over a distrustful child.

Action

Clearly explain the steps you took to handle the situation. You should give a direct example from the past of something that you did and how you did it.

Result

The last step explains the direct result of your actions. Ideally, this should be a positive result in the classroom that had a positive impact on the students.

What Made You Want to Become a Teaching Assistant?

This is likely to be one of the first questions that you are asked during the interview. The interviewer wants to discover your motivations for being a teaching assistant. Being a teaching assistant can be challenging at times, and it is necessary to have passion and enthusiasm to overcome this.

The best type of answer is one that explains that you want to make a difference in the lives of children. Teaching assistants should be willing to help both teachers and students to reach their full potential. If possible, briefly explain how and when you decided you wanted to be a teaching assistant.

teaching assistant interview question

What Does a Teaching Assistant Do?

This question is asked to test your understanding of the role and the potential challenges. You should be able to provide a brief yet complete overview of the role. Reading the job description posted by the school will give you an idea of what they are looking for.

Carefully read the job description before the interview, paying close attention to the main duties. Make sure that you reflect all of these key duties in your answer. You may also be able to add a task or two from your own experience that is not mentioned in the job description.

What Makes a Good Teaching Assistant?

This is another question that is asked to determine your understanding of the teaching assistant role. The best way to answer this question is by describing some of the qualities and skills teaching assistants need to have.

Some examples include strong communication skills, being good with children, approachability, empathy, creativity, and leadership skills.

What Makes You a Good Teaching Assistant?

This question allows you to show that you have the right skills and attributes for the job. You should highlight at least three of the most valuable assistant teacher skills and attributes. Provide direct examples of how you have used these skills in the past to good effect.

It is still possible to do this even if you do not have previous teaching experience. You should be able to provide examples that highlight the fact that you are good with children. For example, having empathy is a transferable skill that can apply to a wide range of situations.

the teaching assistant interview question

Describe your Experience Working with Children

It is important to answer this question as honestly as possible while highlighting your core strengths. If you have a lot of experience of working with children, describe it in brief chronological order. If your experience is more limited, flesh it out with examples of achievements.

Regardless of the type and amount of experience you have, make sure that it is compelling and interesting. Provide a couple of direct examples of experiences that are special and unique. These could be examples of times when you have gone the extra mile to help different children in your work.

Why Do You Want to Work at This School?

It is important to do background research into the school before attending the interview. Pay close attention to the values of the school and the specific teaching style. Make sure that you reflect the school values in your answer to this and other interview questions.

It is also a good idea to talk briefly about the history and status of the school in the community. When doing your research, highlight at least three things about the school that are particularly impressive. This will guide you towards the way to form your answer to this interview question.

What Makes a Good Lesson Plan?

This is an operational question that is designed to discover your experience and working style. You should begin the question by highlighting the importance of good lesson plans. Explain your experience with creating lesson plans in the past and how you have used them effectively.

What Steps Do You Take to Ensure the Safety of Children in the Classroom?

This is one of the most important elements of an assistant teacher’s job. It is essential to make sure that the classroom environment is a safe and productive environment for all children. Assistant teachers need to be aware of all potential safety hazards and be able to minimize them quickly and effectively.

You can start your answer by talking about potential safety hazards such as fires, bullying, and sharp objects. Explain the steps you take to remain vigilant and identify potential hazards. If possible, give a couple of examples of how you have helped to maintain safety in the classroom in the past.

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How Do You Handle Disruptive Students?

This can be very challenging for teaching assistants, especially those who do not have much experience. The goal is effectively handling disruptive students as quickly and effectively as possible. However, you also need to make sure that all the other students receive the attention they need and deserve.

Begin your answer by explaining that the steps you take vary depending on the situation at the time. Describe the steps you take to determine how to handle the situation in the best way possible. Go on to give a couple of examples of how you have done this successfully in the past.

What Would You Do if You Disagreed with the Actions of the Teacher in the Classroom?

This is a very tricky situation that needs to be handled with finesse. To best serve the needs of the students, teachers and assistant teachers have to work closely together. If they have conflicting teaching styles or opinions, it is likely to have a negative impact on the students.

You should start the question by explaining that your main duty is serving the needs of the students. You should highlight your strong teamwork skills, which make it easy for you to work well with teachers. However, a situation may arise where the teacher is verbally abusing a student or behaving unprofessionally in another way.

Do it in private…

The last thing you should do is air your grievance in front of the students. Instead, it is best to have a private conversation with the teacher to resolve the issue. In an extreme case, it may be necessary to raise the issue with a department head or the school’s headteacher.

How Do You Motivate Students?

There is always likely to be at least one student in a class that simply does not want to work. Trying to make a student do their work when they do not want to is next to impossible. Instead, the best approach is to inspire them so that they take an interest in the subject.

The key to doing this is determining if the student is unwilling to work or feels they are unable. Each of these issues requires a different approach, which you should outline in your answer. However, you also need to make sure that the other students are not ignored while you are focusing on one student.

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How Do You Make Lessons Engaging and Fun?

There is nothing worse than trying to teach students who are bored or distracted. Good teaching assistants need to be able to judge the mood in the classroom and make changes accordingly. If the students start to become bored, it is time to switch things up a little to make the lesson more fun.

All teaching assistants should have special games and techniques that they can fall back on in these situations. This helps to change the energy in the classroom and ensure that students are more receptive. Being flexible and adaptable allows teaching assistants to help maintain a productive classroom environment.

Outline the elements…

When answering this question, briefly outline the elements that make a fun and engaging lesson. Give particular examples of materials and activities that you find to be particularly useful. Provide a couple of direct examples of how you have used these resources in the past.

What are Your Preferred Teaching Methods?

Teaching assistants need to take an individualized approach with different students according to their needs. Therefore, it is important to be aware of a wide range of different teaching methods. This will allow you to choose the best teaching method for the particular situation.

Briefly describe some of the teaching methods that you find to be most effective. Give examples of how you have used these different teaching methods in the past. You can then describe how you select the teaching method according to the needs of the individual student.

Do You Have Experience Working with Special Needs Students?

This question gives you the chance to express the importance of individualized teaching approaches. Start by explaining the importance of determining the unique needs and abilities of each student. This helps to make sure that each student receives the tools they need to thrive in the classroom.

It is important that you are honest when talking about your experience with special needs students. Even if you do not have previous experience, you should be able to highlight your compassion and patience. These attributes help you to go the extra mile to make sure these students receive any special help they need.

Need More Interview Info And Advice?

I’ve put together my top selection of interview guides for advice on How Do You Handle Stress, Why Do You Want To Work Here, What Are You Most Proud Of, What Makes You Unique, What Are Your Career Goals, as well as How To Answer What Are You Passionate About in 2021.

Or try a few online reads such as the Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, or maybe How to Answer Interview Questions: 101 Tough Interview Questions, and Amazing Interview Answers: 44 Tough Job Interview Questions with 88 Winning Answers to ace that interview!

If you’re still looking to get into teaching, we’ve found some amazing books that can help guide you. For example, the NYSTCE ATAS Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills 095: teacher certification exam (XAMonline Teacher Certification Study Guides), and the NYSTCE Assessment of Teaching Assistant Skills ATAS 95 Test: The New York State Teacher Certification Examinations.

Also, maybe try reading Hacking School Discipline: 9 Ways to Create a Culture of Empathy and Responsibility Using Restorative Justice, the 101 Answers for New Teachers and Their Mentors: Effective Teaching Tips for Daily Classroom Use, and the Motivating Students Who Don’t Care: Proven Strategies to Engage All Learners, Second Edition (Proven Strategies to Motivate Struggling Students and Spark an Enthusiasm for all available online today.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know some of the interview questions that are likely to come up, you have a chance to practice. It is a good idea to write down your answers to the standard interview questions and rehearse them.

However, you also need to make sure that your answers sound natural and honest during the interview. It is also a good idea to work on your body language before the interview. Even if you are feeling nervous, you need to appear open, honest, and friendly.

You should remember to prepare a few questions for the interviewer that demonstrate your interest in the school.

All the very best with your delivering the very best answers to Teaching Assistant Interview Questions!

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About Carmen Smith

Carmen grew up in San Diago but now lives in Boston. She loves traveling, experiencing other cultures, and basically exploring the world, be country at a time.

Her other passion is helping people find the perfect career. We spend 33% of our working lives at work, so it's ridiculous that many people do jobs that they do not enjoy. Carmen wants to change this and thinks that anyone who isn't happy in their employment should keep looking until they find something that they really enjoy. 

She firmly believes that "Everyone's perfect job is out there; it's just a case of continually looking until you find it."

Carmen lives with her husband Johnny, a keen birder who also loves to travel. He finds birds while Carmen makes plans for where they will be eating next...

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