If you are preparing for an interview for a teaching assistant position, it is important to know what to expect. You may already have read some sample interview questions for teaching assistants and begun to think about your responses, however it is also important to know what mistakes to avoid too.
Here are some of the things that you should never do at your TA interview.
Don’t criticise your previous school
During your interview process you must never say anything negative about your previous or current school, no matter how tempted you may be to do so.
Some candidates are under the misapprehension that being critical about their current post will make them appear more eager for the position that they have applied for, but in fact the only impression it gives is of disloyalty to their employer.
No school wants someone on staff who will publicly denigrate their staff, practices or policies, especially to others within the industry.
Don’t dress inappropriately
First impressions count, and your appearance is part of the professional image you are trying to convey. If you turn up to your interview dressed too casually or inappropriately, you are unlikely to be offered the position.
Feel free to wear your facial piercings and flaunt your tattoos at home, but cover them up at your interview. Of course it goes without saying that you should never wear a very short skirt or a low cut top, you are acting as a role model for the children in your care.
Don’t forget to do your research
If you want to be successful in your interview, you need to be fully prepared. You will never be offered the post if it's obvious that you know nothing about the school or role that you have applied for.
Education is a competitive field, and interview panels are looking for candidates who are keen and professional enough to find out more about the school's policies, background and issues. Take your time before your interview to read the teaching assistant job description thoroughly, visit the school's website and read the OFSTED report.
Don’t arrive late
Whatever you do, you should ensure that you turn up for your interview on time. Arriving late makes you look unprofessional and unreliable – never a good impression. If you struggle to wake up on time or feel tired when you finally do get up – it might be worth it to invest in a wake-up light alarm clock.
Don’t forget your resources
If part of your interview requires a classroom observation of an activity that you have planned yourself, make sure that you have all your resources prepared and to hand. Turning up without the necessary book, equipment or worksheets makes you look unprofessional and disorganised, which is not the impression that you want to create.
Don’t fidget or giggle during questioning
Be confident and in control at all times, no matter how nervous you may feel. Allowing your nerves to get the better of you will prevent you from doing your best in your interview. Fidgeting or giggling while you are being questioned will create a poor impression and will prevent you from effectively expressing yourself.
Don’t give rambling or unclear responses
The interview panel are looking for clear and concise answers to their questions. Rambling responses give the impression that you don't really know what you're talking about. If the panel cannot understand you or get a clear idea of what you are trying to say, you won't be offered the position, no matter how perfect you are for the role.
Avoid this problem by reading some sample questions in advance and preparing some stock responses to the most obvious topics that are likely to arise so that you won't be caught unawares.
Don’t appear disinterested
It sounds obvious, but you need to appear to be peachy keen and engaged throughout the interview process. Remember that you are being observed from the moment that you walk through the school's door.
If you are being shown around the premises, interact with the children, ask questions and engage with the staff. If you stand at the back of the group ignoring the children and never speaking a word, you will seem to be lacking in the enthusiasm and eagerness that the panel are looking for in a successful candidate.
Don’t be over-familiar
Whether during your classroom observation or in the interview itself, avoid being over-familiar either with the interview panel or with the pupils themselves. The school are looking for professionalism at all times, so when you are talking to the children be sure to keep your language professional, and when you are in the interview room, never be too casual, too chatty or over-confident.
Don’t raise contentious issues
When you are asked if you have any questions at the end of your interview it is absolutely essential that you ask a few well thought-out questions, but never take this as an opportunity to raise issues that are potentially contentious such as those regarding pay or non-contact time.
Avoiding these common errors is a big step forward towards being successful in your interview. Remaining professional in manner, dress and language, doing your research and creating the right impression through the correct demeanour and attitude will stand you in good stead to win you the TA job you want.