It’s natural to feel nervous about your Teaching Assistant interview. After all, you will be under scrutiny – your appearance, the things you say, and how you express yourself. Much of this is because you will be entering unfamiliar territory and interacting with new people.
This ‘fear of the unknown' is best controlled by thorough preparation so that even when you feel as if you're treading water you can still command your responses. Here are a few things which will help to put you on the front foot:
Do your research
Preparation is the best method of all to help combat pre-interview nerves. Careful study of the job description and person specification will make you more familiar with the focus of the whole process.
In addition, further research and background reading about your potential school employer, and the wider educational community will inform you about local issues. You will find current news and concerns discussed in useful publications such as TES (Times Educational Supplement) if you want to show you understand the wider context.
Remember that you cannot entirely eliminate nerves because that's nature's way of sharpening your responses when new situations arise.
However, together with optimum groundwork, this can become a powerful and impressive combination which is proven to reduce anxiety and help you feel more in control. It's said that confidence stems from ignorance or experience – it's your call!
Be alert and vibrant
If you can arrange to have a quiet night on the eve of your interview, you will reap the benefits the following day. For those who are already below par, the extra pressure of the interview environment can be very sapping indeed.
If you are rested you will feel much better and more likely to find yourself actually looking forward to your interview. In addition, a person who looks, and feels, fresh sends out the right messages from the start.
Make time to eat
Having a proper breakfast is all part of putting yourself in the best condition to perform well on the day. It would be sensible to avoid too much caffeine – there will probably be hospitality offered at your school – and also to stay well clear of any food with strong odours.
Plan your arrival carefully
Journeys can sometimes be difficult to plan with precision. You must arrive in good time, so that means leaving plenty of time for the unforeseen. The majority of transport delays can be predicted if you research properly.
Furthermore, it's easy to arrive in the locale ahead of time and plan how you will spend the free time prior to your interview appointment.
Remember to check out parking before the day itself, and in addition, be clear about precisely how you can access the school site – if in doubt ask the school beforehand. Be aware that a sloppy approach to your travel arrangements can soon undermine the rest of your careful preparation.
Anxiety can build up at these moments, especially if you have absolutely nothing to do. It's not helpful at this stage to read the job description over and over – you'll take nothing in and probably start to panic.
Instead, bring along a non-educational book or magazine to help you pass away any ‘downtime' during the interview process.
Deep breathing can help you relax further, and if you start to feel hot, running cold water over your wrists and applying some behind your ears will cool the blood and thus make you feel more comfortable.
Making your entrance
At this point remember your interviewers liked your application and thus are already looking forward to meeting you.
A handshake and meaningful smile are essential and will immediately make you feel much better. Enthusiasm and engagement are important; just don't allow it to tip over into anything approaching desperation.
The ‘perfect' interview doesn't exist, and an experienced interviewer may actually be quite impressed with the way you deal with any setbacks. Whatever the outcome, you will certainly be enriched and empowered by the experience.