While it's pretty much impossible to know which questions you will be asked, there are a few general topics that come up time and again, usually around the qualities and skills required to perform the teacher assistant role effectively.
Preparing for this type of question is simpler than preparing for more abstract topics as it gives you the opportunity to talk about something you know well – yourself.
These questions enable you to expand on your own experiences and philosophies, and knowing the sort of topics that might arise allows you to think of stock responses before you even enter the interview room.
If you need some examples of competency based teaching assistant interview questions and answers for your upcoming job interview, check out these 10 examples:
1. How do you cope if your planning for the day suffers from an unexpected interruption? Can you give an example?
This question is designed to reveal how flexible, adaptable and creative you are. The good news is that you have probably had many experiences just like this to draw on.
This is your opportunity to talk about how your time spent in the classroom has provided you with the necessary skill set to be able to draw on a host of short-term ideas to keep the class occupied.
You can discuss here how you can use technology as a solution, and how you have developed a bank of educational activities that you can use in this sort of situation.
Be concise, but ensure that you include enough details to express your competency convincingly, emphasizing your flexibility, creativity and ability to devise emergency activities that are not only “time fillers” but effective educational opportunities.
2. How do you encourage your students to accept and appreciate each other and their differences?
Embracing diversity is an important part of education today, and promoting that acceptance to pupils is an essential element of the TA role.
You can discuss here any PSHE activities that you have devised which fulfil this purpose – for example asking children to each say something positive about a classmate on a regular basis, and any work that you have done to promote the understanding of other cultures, such as celebrating a broad spectrum of religious festivals and learning about the way of life in other countries.
3. If there is a conflict between two children in your class, how do you deal with it?
Conflict resolution is a big part of being a TA, and the classroom can be full of pupil tensions.
The trick to answering this question well is to show that you understanding the importance of impartiality, of listening and understanding, but also of the need to impart effective discipline and to involve senior members of the team when required.
You could also mention parent-handling here and talk about the importance of working cooperatively with parents to resolve any issues.
4. If you find that a lesson isn't working well, how do you deal with the situation?
This question is inquiring into your ability to assess yourself, to recognise your own weaknesses and to address any issues flexibly.
The panel want to know that you can spot the signs that your lesson was wrongly pitched and that you are not afraid to stop what you have planned and start again from scratch.
They want to see that you are creative enough to think on your feet, and have the subject knowledge and communication skills to be able to rework the lesson in a more comprehensible format.
5. How have you handled parental complaints?
The interviewer wants to know that you understand the importance of effective communication with parents and the need to diffuse aggression so that effective discussion can take place.
You need to demonstrate that you can listen and show understanding while remaining firm and clear about your expectations.
6. Have you assisted with any out of school activities?
This is one of the easiest questions to answer as you simply need to talk about your experiences. If you have not yet had the opportunity to help with any activities, you need to show a willingness to contribute to the wider life of the school and show eagerness to undertake these extra duties if offered the role.
7. How do you use positive reinforcement?
You need to show the panel that you know the value of praise for good behaviour and effort in raising self-esteem, achievement and motivation.
Discuss examples of how you can do this, from hand-stamps rewarding good work to sticker charts for good behaviour while expressing your understanding of the difference between positive and negative reinforcement and your knowledge of why positive reinforcement is effective.
8. What would you do if a child wanted to tell you something confidential?
This question is designed to find out whether you can adhere to school policies while maintaining pupil confidentiality where appropriate.
You need to show that you understand that pupils need to be able to trust you, however, there are certain things that you cannot keep to yourself.
You need to demonstrate that you would never reassure a child that everything they said would be kept confidential and that you would always inform the specified member of the school staff if a child revealed something of concern such as safeguarding issues.
9. What do you do if a child finishes their work long before the rest of the class?
You need to show here that you appreciate the need for all children to be challenged to their maximum ability and that no time in the classroom should be wasted. Talk here about extension activities and valuable educational opportunities.
10. How do you establish a good rapport with your students?
You are being asked here to show that you understand the importance of good rapport to effective teaching and good communication, but also that your role is not to be the children's friend but their mentor and educator.
Things you could mention here is your sense of humour, taking an interest in pupils' lives, sharing relevant personal experiences, and demonstrating your concern about pupils' problems as well as promoting mutual respect.
Hopefully, these competency-based teaching assistant interview questions and answers will help you to prepare for your interview.
Just remember to take the time and prepare your responses thoroughly and you will be more likely to do well in your interview and get the teaching assistant job you want.