When attending an interview for a teaching assistant position, you are likely to be asked the question “What are your strengths as a teaching assistant?”. The answer to this question needs to be carefully thought out and should always direct the interviewer's attention not only to your actual strengths, but also and more importantly, to how your strongest assets match the school's mission, vision, and values.
Generally speaking, when employers ask “What are your strengths as a teacher assistant?”, they are trying to determine your value as an employee and the potential contribution that you can make to the classroom and to the educational institution as a whole. This question should not be used as an opportunity to brag, and you should also be careful not to undersell yourself.
The key to answering “What are your strengths as a teaching assistant?” is to demonstrate self-awareness and other qualities that are common to all teaching professionals. Below is a list of seven sample answers you can use to make a positive impression on employers when answering this teaching assistant interview question.
Sample answer 1
“I am self-aware”
Your development as a teacher depends on your ability to reflect on your performance and behaviour. Good teaching assistants are able to identify approaches or activities that do not work out, and instead of stubbornly sticking to what they think will work, they are willing to change direction and constantly evaluate the results.
In a teaching environment, self-awareness involves trying to understand not only the fact that something doesn't work, but also looking for causes and solutions.
Sample answer 2
“I know how to make teaching materials relevant to students”
Great teaching assistants are good at making real-life connections between teaching materials, subjects, and situations where the knowledge of those subjects will be useful to students. Making this connection obvious is one of the key tasks of a teacher, and it is particularly essential when it comes to keeping students engaged and interested in the learning process and in becoming autonomous learners.
This answer also suggests that you are a reflective teaching professional (see sample answer 1) who spends time planning and thinking about the needs and expectations of students.
Sample answer 3
“I am able to create a genuine connection with my students”
The ability to create good rapport with students is a precondition to effective teaching, since learning does not happen in environments where empathy, understanding, and respect are absent. Creating meaningful connections with pupils involves having a calm and sympathetic demeanour, as well as understanding how the different learning styles affect students' academic performance.
Teaching Assistants who create good rapport are more likely to be successful in addressing roadblocks to learning, to strengthen motivation, and to promote meaningful discussion between students. To support your answer, be prepared to give examples to show that you take time to get to know your students individually.
Sample answer 4
“I know how to use technology to create an engaging and effective learning environment”
No TA should underestimate the role that technology plays in knowledge acquisition. In the near future, teaching, learning, and technology will be increasingly connected to each other, so using this sample answer shows that you are the right candidate not just now, but also in the long-term. Tech-minded teaching assistants usually have more chances of being hired than candidates who aren't as well versed or interested in educational technology.
Sample answer 5
“I am not only passionate about teaching, but also about learning”.
Being a Teaching Assistant does not exempt you from learning. In fact, teaching assistants and teachers alike are expected to be lifelong learners. When elaborating on this answer, you can highlight the interconnection between teaching and learning and mention they are both mutually enriching processes.
You should show that you are committed to ongoing learning and that you do your best to avoid becoming complacent, and whenever possible bring in examples of how and when you have learnt lessons from every teaching experience, feedback, and comments made during observations.
Sample answer 6
“I am resilient”
There is no doubt that classrooms can be a challenging environment. Resilience plays a key role in the development of classroom management skills, which are absolutely essential for all teaching professionals. Employers are interested in finding out whether you view hurdles and challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement, or whether you get discouraged and give up easily. To support your answer, bring up examples of when you have reacted positively to challenges and dealt with constructive criticism.
Sample answer 7
“Patience is my biggest strength as a teaching assistant”
Teaching assistants are expected to be patient, and not only with students, but also with their own process of skill development. Being patient involves not assuming you know everything there is to know, but acknowledging that becoming an effective teacher takes time and effort. This shows interviewers that you are realistic and willing to stay in the profession for a long time.
The sample answers listed above should provide food for thought and help you prepare for your interview. Regardless of which option you choose, when answering to the question “What are your strengths as a teacher assistant?”, remember to make it relevant to the specific job description and back up your answer with examples. This should help position yourself ahead of other candidates.