So you’ve applied for the perfect special needs teaching assistant position and now you have been offered an interview, well done! Now you need to make sure that you are fully prepared for any questions they might ask you so you can increase your chances of landing the TA role you want.
Here are some examples of special needs teaching assistant interview questions and answers that are popular with school interview panels to help you think of responses that will help you to stand out from the crowd and show exactly why they should offer you the role.
1. Can you give examples of your experiences in working with pupils with SEN?
This is one of the simplest questions to answer as you simply need to talk about yourself and your own experiences in the classroom. Be sure to include a broad scope of SEN conditions if possible and provide precise examples of how you were instrumental in their progress.
If you can, talk about working across different key stages, and demonstrate your understanding of the varying issues that affect pupils who have different educational needs.
2. How can you ensure that the teacher is kept fully informed about the progress of the pupils you are supporting?
You need to show here that you understand the importance of an ongoing dialogue between yourself and the class teacher in order to carry out planning and assessment.
You need to demonstrate your ability to understand the importance of your own role in ensuring that the work for those pupils that you are responsible for is pitched at the right level by communicating regularly about their understanding and abilities.
As a SEN teaching assistant you will be working closely with individual pupils and groups of pupils, and therefore may even be in a better position than the class teacher to speak with authority about what the children in your care are capable of, and therefore you need to communicate in your response that you require regular daily communication with the class teacher regarding progress.
3. How would you manage to stay professional while working closely with an individual pupil with SEN?
This question is designed to show that you understand how vital it is to never step over the boundary into informality no matter how closely you have to work with a pupil.
You need to express here that you value the importance of professionalism and take your role as an educator seriously, showing that you are not there to be the pupil’s friend but their educational facilitator.
You can talk about maintaining boundaries such as not revealing too much personal information, never slipping into using informal language and refusing to be drawn into discussions about other staff members.
4. How would you work effectively with a SEN pupil’s parents?
You need to demonstrate here your understanding of the need to work effectively with parents to achieve the best educational achievement and behavioural outcome for your designated pupil.
You can talk about ongoing dialogue through regular contact or home/school books on a daily basis, as well as immediate discussion of any issues or problems with carers before they get out of hand.
5. Why do you think keeping regularly written records is an important part of a SEN teaching assistant’s role?
This question is asking you to show that you have a deeper understanding of your role over and above doing what you are told.
You need to show here that you understand the importance of records in sharing information with all relevant parties from the class teacher to outside agencies who come in to work with the child. You can also discuss how these written records are useful in spotting patterns of behaviour and showing progression over time.
6. What qualities do you possess that make you a good special needs teaching assistant?
This is a good opportunity to promote yourself, your skills and abilities. The interview panel wants to hear that you are professional and competent, yet value the pupils and their needs.
You need to talk about your good communication skills, your understanding and patient nature, your positive attitude, your ability to handle tricky situations effectively and non-judgmentally and your understanding of the need to work cooperatively with others from the class teacher to parents and the wider school community.
7. How would you handle behaviour management?
A large part of the special needs teaching assistant role is to help the teacher by managing behaviour in the classroom.
Often, the pupils that you will be working with will be disruptive and have behavioural issues, so a major part of your job will be dealing with this during lessons.
This is your opportunity to show that you fully comprehend the nature of your role, and that you understand that both the needs of your designated pupil and the other children in the class needs to be accommodated.
You can demonstrate that you understand your key role in keeping SEN pupils on task during class time and that you will always adhere to the school’s behavioural policies.
8. What do you consider to be your greatest achievement as a special needs teaching assistant?
You need to draw on your own experience here and be concise while showcasing your skills as a SEN support assistant. Be specific about the pupil’s condition, why it posed challenges and how your help enabled them to overcome a specific obstacle or achievement beyond their expectations.
Without being overly dramatic, describe how effective you were in your previous role and why you would be an asset to the school’s team.
9. What kind of challenges do you think you are likely to face in the special needs assistant role?
Again, this question is inquiring into your understanding of the job. You need to show here that you are aware of what will be expected of you, and the ways in which you are able to handle any challenges that are thrown your way.
You can talk about the various complexities of dealing with children with additional physical or behavioural needs and how these can be approached within the classroom environment using patience and understanding. You should also express how much you value professionalism despite any difficulties you may face in dealing with SEN children on a daily basis.
10. How would you motivate a special needs pupil who doesn’t want to complete his/her work?
Your response to this question will show your flexibility and ability to react to difficult circumstances as well as your understanding of the best ways to approach SEN pupils.
You can demonstrate your understanding of the need to adopt different positive approaches to the situation such as reward charts and stickers, as well as devising accessible ways for the pupil to complete the work.
Although these are just a few of the possible questions that you may be faced with, they provide a broad spectrum of topics that may be covered during your interview.
Take the time to prepare some stock responses and draw up a list of your own skills so that you feel confident before you face the panel, and remember that you wouldn’t have been offered an interview in the first place if the school didn’t think you were capable of doing the job.
If you prepare yourself fully for your interview by reading through these and other sample teaching assistant interview questions and answers and prepare a few of your own responses you should be in a good position to ace your interview and secure the position that you want.