If you’ve been invited for a teaching assistant interview you’ve already got one foot in your new role. The school knows you’re well qualified and the interview is where you seal the deal.
Thinking of becoming a TA? We speak to three teaching assistants about life in the classroom
What will happen during my teaching assistant interview?
As with most job interviews, the process varies from school to school. Some will be more formal than others, but most normally consist of two parts.
One part is aimed at getting to know you a little better and is likely to be a traditional style interview with a panel of two or three people asking you questions. The other part of the interview is more practical and is aimed at seeing how well you will do in a classroom environment.
During the second part of the interview you may be asked to work with a group of children so that your interviewers can get a feel for how well you would fit into the role.
During the formal teaching assistant interview you will be asked questions by a panel of two or three people which may include a governor, the head teacher, teachers or an existing TA.
They will probably take it in turns to ask you pre-prepared questions and they’re likely to write down notes to help them remember what you’ve said and because they are legally required to keep a record of the process.
You might also be asked questions about how you might manage certain situations in the classroom, such as bad behaviour or giving feedback on a task. Make sure you are fully prepared to explain in more depth anything you have outlined on your application form.
At the end you’ll have an opportunity to ask any questions you have.
How can I prepare for formal interview?
The best way to prepare is to practice, practice, practice. Ask a friend or family member to interview you and give you honest feedback. Use our teaching assistant interview questions to help you understand the breadth of topics you may be questioned on and to allow you to practice and prepare.
When preparing your answers, think carefully about different experiences you can draw on to illustrate your competencies in different areas. Can you think of a time you worked well in a team, managed a difficult situation, communicated well etc?
What type of activity might I be asked to do?
Not all schools will ask you to work with children as part of the interview process, but it is fairly common practice nowadays. You are likely to be asked to work with a small group of just three or four children.
If you have little or no experience then you will probably be given a fair amount of guidance about exactly what to do. If you are more experienced you may be given more leeway and may even be asked ahead of the day to prepare a task.
How can I prepare for an activity?
The best preparation you can do is to get used to working with children of the appropriate age. You may already be very confident, but if not then try and do a couple of voluntary sessions at your local school or children’s clubs and get used to interacting with children.
Think especially about how to explain things in different ways to help children to understand; how to keep children focused on the task in hand and how to manage any difficult behaviour.
If you are given a task to prepare ahead of time make sure you work out what you’re hoping to do in plenty of time, and practice, asking for feedback from a friend.
What should I wear?
You need to make sure you feel comfortable so that you’ll do your best at the interview, but first impressions count for a lot. Although it’s not expected attire for a teaching assistant you’ll never go wrong with a suit or a smart skirt or trousers.
What do I need to take with me?
It’s a good idea to take a copy of your original application and you may be asked to provide documents needed for your CRB check such as a passport and utility bill. This should all be made clear to you but call the school and ask if in doubt.
If you’ve prepared an activity, bring along anything you need, don’t rely on the school to provide it or you may find yourself rethinking your plan at the last minute. It’s also a good idea to bring a notepad and pen as you may wish to write a few things down following your interview.
Remember that your interview starts long before you meet your interviewers. Everyone from the pupils to the secretary will be forming first impressions of you. Make sure you arrive in plenty of time and take a moment to talk to pupils and be pleasant to the admin staff.
Prepare for your interview with our teaching assistant interview questions
Already a TA? Find out about becoming a higher level teaching assistant