When attending a teaching assistant interview you will be questioned on a variety of topics, you’ll be questioned on your classroom management skills, your time management skills, your ability to interact with children, and your ability to ensure children are kept safe and out of harm’s way.
Safeguarding children is a key part of being a teaching assistant and for this reason you can pretty much guarantee the interview panel will have a few safeguarding interview questions ready and waiting for you. Here’s a quick look at what safeguarding in schools is and a few safeguarding interview questions you could be asked at a teaching assistant interview:
What is Safeguarding in Schools?
To those persons unfamiliar with this term, a simple academic glimpse of the word gives an accurate conclusion. The adjective safe is easily defined online as “the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury,” whereas the verb guard is simply defined as “to watch over in order to protect or control,” or “to protect against damage or harm.”
Add the prepositional phrase “in schools” and the term is easily defined as “the act of protecting our youth and schoolchildren and keeping them out of harm’s way. In this paradigm, harm can be defined in multiple ways, including exploitation, maltreatment, neglect, and abandonment, to name a few.
Examples of Safeguarding Interview Questions
Tip: Keep in mind that the interviewers will rarely, if ever, mention the exact words “Safeguarding Interview Questions.” Here are a few examples of questions that might be sent your way:
Q: Why is feeling safe such an important component in a child’s learning?
A mention of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” might be relevant when answering this question. In other words, it is literally impossible for a human to actively learn or participate when their basic needs are not being met. One of those basic needs is to feel safe and secure.
Q: Name the top three reasons you have chosen to work with children as a career.
It is obviously impossible to offer any word-for-word answers to this question as everyone will have different reasons for wanting to become a teaching assistant. You should give an honest answer because any vagueness or uncertainty here will send an immediate red flag to the interviewer.
Just keep in mind that an effective teacher/teaching assistant should express a genuine interest in the betterment of mankind by helping to meet children’s needs while cooperatively working with other adults.
Q: Tell us about your childhood.
Whereas this may seem like a prying question, we all know that our childhood is the foundation for the rest of our lives. This does not mean that there is no hope if you had a difficult upbringing as a child. In fact, an honest response that shows how you have conquered challenging obstacles presented by your childhood can enhance your professional resume.
It is very likely that the interviewers are analyzing your reaction to this question as much as they are the semantics in your answer.
Q: Has there ever been a time when you have had to challenge the views of a senior member of staff in regards to safeguarding concerns? If yes, what was the outcome?
If you have not experienced this situation, your obvious answer will be “No.” Do not fabricate something that has not happened. However, keep in mind this question does not refer to the school domain only. Perhaps there has been a babysitter “incident” where you took a stand for a young person.
As long as your answer indicates that you fervently sought to help the young person being wronged and that it was approached in a legalistic way, your answer will certainly reveal that you are vigilant for the rights of children.
Q: How do you feel when a child makes an allegation against a staff member?
This is a tough question. This situation does happen, but statistics show that it is rare. In other words, if a child makes a complaint, there is usually some truth to the complaint. It is suggested that your response include knowledge of this statistic. The allegation made by the child should always be thoroughly investigated and without prejudice against the child. It is suggested that strong opinion be left out of this response.
Q: Give me an example of how you have managed poor pupil behaviour.
If this is your first job, then your answer will need to indicate that you successfully mastered this topic in your training. Include some examples that you learned while in training. It may also be relevant to offer any situation you encountered if you have worked as an au pair or nanny. If you have previous experience, tactfully revisit your most successful behaviour intervention and use it as your answer.
Q: Tell us about a time when you took action to help protect a child.
Keep in mind that this answer might contain something as simple as the time you helped a young child who had become separated from their parent in a store.
The interviewers are seeking empathy and concern for the welfare of children rather than any super hero feat. Hence, don’t overthink this answer, just revisit an example from your past and always state the positive outcome that was achieved.
Q: What should you do if a child in the class is displaying behaviour which concerns you?
In response to this question, the interviewer is looking for evidence that you understand the importance of taking action if you suspect a safeguarding issue and that you know who you should approach first to express your concerns.
This is also an opportunity to talk about any possible similar instances that you’ve experienced in your previous posts and how you dealt with them (obviously without mentioning names or individual identifiable circumstances).
Q: What has working with children taught you about yourself?
This may not immediately appear on the surface to be a safeguarding question, however it’s actually looking for a reply that indicates you have a clear understanding of the boundaries between pupils and adults in the classroom. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but your response should be grounded in your own classroom practice and experience.
The interviewer is primarily looking for a detailed response backed up by examples of real incidents which shows a genuine understanding of the reality of working with children, and you can use it as an opportunity to outline experiences which demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of children’s expectations and needs.
Q: If a parent helper talks to you inappropriately about a child in the class, what should you do?
This can be a tricky question to answer, however the interviewer is looking for an answer which shows that you understand the importance of confidentiality and of your responsibility to report any inappropriate behaviour in the classroom, whether by a parent helper, staff member or child.
It is likely that you have been through job interviews before, such as when you applied for that fast food job or retail job while in college. Consider this a similar situation with more intensity. There is more to risk, but the more prepared you are to respond to safeguarding interview questions, the easier and less stressful the process will become. Be prepared and be confident and success will be at your fingertips!