In this article, we’ll cover:
Working in the education system, teaching assistants play a big role in shaping the minds of children and young people. From preschool teaching assistants, HLTAs, and special education teaching assistants, to teacher aids, there is a wide array of roles that require different qualifications and carry different responsibilities.
With teachers in charge of leading lectures, designing classes, and arranging the curriculum, teaching assistants cooperate with them to facilitate courses and help students reach their potential. Hence, the qualities and experiences an interviewer looks for in a teaching assistant candidate would differ from what they look for in a teacher.
Communication and interpersonal skills are key in helping learners understand better, so your answers and flow greatly contribute to the interviewers' evaluation of your qualification and skills. Same as designing a class, being as prepared as you can for the questions is crucial to having a successful teaching assistant interview!
To succeed in a teaching assistant interview, you first need to prepare yourself for common interview questions. To help you be prepared, we have gathered 10 common interview questions for teaching assistants.
✏️ General Teaching Assistant Interview Questions
✏️ In-Depth Teaching Assistant Interview Questions
In your teaching assistant interview, you are also likely to be faced with role-specific questions. Here we put together a list of interview questions for different teaching assistant roles as well as scenarios a teaching assistant might encounter. In addition to the questions, we’ve also provided sample answers so you can have a better idea of what to say during your interview.
Q: Why do you want to be a teacher’s aide?
Sample Answer: I want to work in a field where I can positively impact people’s lives. A teacher’s aide helps learners achieve their full potential and I find it an extremely rewarding role. When I started studying for my university entrance exams, the width of the topic range was overwhelming and I really struggled. It was the teacher’s aide that helped me prepare academically and mentally. The help she provided was invaluable and I want to provide that for others.
How to answer: Apart from expressing your desire to help students succeed, being personal and including anecdotes or experiences help leave a great and strong impression. This TA interview question helps the employer learn what drives you and envision how you will work and fit into their workplace.
Q: Why do you want to work at our school?
Sample Answer: I would love to work as a learning support assistant at this school because of your dedication to promoting diversity. I believe that by creating an environment where open-mindedness and respect for all types of people are encouraged, students can learn more effectively and develop a healthy relationship with learning. My values greatly align with this school’s, and I want to take part in growing this.
How to answer: Do your research! Schools want to hire people that plan to stay around, so be sure to state what attracts you to this school—values, teaching methods, special programs, etc.
Q: Why do you think you’ll be a good HLTA?
Sample Answer: I think it’s important for an HLTA to be organized, communicative, and most importantly, empathetic. And I embody all these characteristics. I do my best in keeping myself open-minded and proactive in understanding students from their perspectives. From my experience, students are more motivated to learn if they also feel that their educators put in the effort to understand them too.
How to answer: This TA interview question is looking to see that you understand what qualities are important for this role. Some important traits include good communication skills, approachability, hard work, empathy, creativity, leadership, patience, etc. We recommend thinking outside of these obvious ones or relating to real life examples of how you demonstrated them to stand out in a teaching assistant interview!
Q: What makes a great lesson?
Sample Answer: A great lesson is when students can effectively achieve the main lesson objective. This of course includes key elements like having the fit materials, creating a space to be creative and open-minded, setting a reasonable time frame, and being prepared with a backup plan in case something falls out. In my experience, the more prepared the teacher and teaching assistant are, the more likely the lesson will be a success.
How to answer: This type of technical TA interview question helps the interviewer understand where you are at in terms of skills and experience. Reflect on all the elements of a lesson—materials, seating, activities, time management—and discuss what worked and what didn’t.
Q: How do you feel about working with kids with special needs? What is your experience?
Sample Answer: When I was in high school, I tutored a cousin that had ADHD. It was a big part of why I’d gotten into education. I knew that it requires individualized approaches to reaching different types of students and I wanted to be able to provide that for kids with special needs. I understand a special education assistant’s main responsibility is to support children with physical, emotional, and learning disabilities, and I believe I have the knowledge and experience to take on this responsibility here.
How to answer: Express your interest or highlight your experience working with kids that have special needs. For this special education assistant interview question, you can get bonus points by mentioning any certifications you have, courses you’ve taken, books you’ve read, and anything else to convey that you’re patient with students and are willing to work hard to modify methods to find ones that best fits them.
Q: How do you respond if a kid or a group of kids is disruptive during a class?
Sample Answer: How I react depends on the situation. In most cases, I follow the protocol that I’ve established with the teacher. If it’s a disruptive group, I’d separate the students and align them with the lesson and assign tasks that require their attention. If it’s an individual, I’d have a one-on-one discussion with the student to recenter their focus. If there’s a repeating pattern, I’d understand their situation and advise a specific method with the teacher.
How to answer: This is a behavioral preschool TA interview question. It allows the interviewer to understand how you would perform the duties on the job. You can use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to more effectively illustrate your approach with a past experience.
Q: What would you do if a kid is displaying inappropriate behavior? And would you notice it?
Sample Answer: I believe Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in that an individual has to feel safe and secure to be able to learn and fulfill their potential, so I always stay attentive to the students’ physical and mental states. If a student is displaying any concerning habits, I’d initiate a conversation with the teacher to discuss and set an urgent agenda to further observe and investigate. Based on the behavioral pattern and their situation, I’d take the action necessary to make the student comfortable in our learning environment.
How to answer: It’s important to show the interviewer that you understand it's your role to be vigilant and proactive in terms of safeguarding issues. This TA interview question aims to learn how you approach this situation. When you are using a past experience as an example, remember to keep the persons involved unidentifiable for privacy reasons!
Q: Tell us about a time when you motivated a student who didn’t want to participate in class.
Sample Answer: As a teaching assistant, it’s important to take note of a student’s motivation. If someone in class is passive and reluctant to engage, I’d try to talk to them privately to understand their passion or drive, and show them why this lesson or assignment is important for them. If necessary, I’d set up an extra incentive for them to help positively reinforce a good learning habit or attitude.
How to answer: With behavioral or situational TA interview questions, use the STAR method: state a past Situation, describe the Task you were assigned, discuss the Actions you took, and then share the Results you had obtained.
Q: If you disagree with a teacher’s response or action, what would you do?
Sample Answer: It can be challenging to navigate these types of situations, but I believe it’s important to resolve conflict, as our behavior sets an example for the students. If the lead teacher gave the wrong answer, I’d approach the teacher and point out the error, so they can provide the right answer to the student. In my experience, the teacher really appreciated the help. If it’s the teacher’s action that I feel is unfit, I’d have a private conversation to understand their thought process, and voice my concern. If this does help the issue, I’d address my concern with the department head as a last resort so they can help intervene the situation or correct my understanding. While I don’t want to disrupt the teacher’s flow and method, I also want to ensure that students are getting the right information and proper education.
How to answer: There are times of conflict in the classroom, and the hiring staff look for people that can effectively and healthily resolve disagreements or handle opposing opinions.
Q: What traits do you think are important for a learning environment?
Sample Answer: I think it’s critical for schools to have a good balance of ensuring it’s on track with the curriculum and making sure students enjoy school. People learn more effectively when they are genuinely curious and passionate to learn. And educators and educational facilities can encourage this type of behavior by designing creative lesson plans, being open to out-of-the-box ideas, and helping students find or build up their interest in learning.
How to answer: This TA interview question shows your philosophy and vision in teaching. Being genuine and reflecting on what type of environment you’d want to work in as a teaching assistant can help you and the interviewer evaluate if this is the right job for you.
You’re almost done!
For any kind of interview, preparing for questions is almost as important as preparing for answers. Raising great questions helps you leave a positive impression and shows your ambition to work at this job. If you don’t know what questions you should ask at a teaching assistant interview, here are a few to get you started:
Q: What is a typical day like in this role?
Why you should ask this: Asking this question in a TA interview helps you envision what life at this position is like. It shows the hiring staff that you’re serious about the job and that you’re also evaluating the fit.
Q: What are the other extracurricular activities or assignments mandatory for this position?
Why you should ask this: Same as the last TA interview question, this gives you an insight to what you would be doing in this role. Briefly showing your enthusiasm or sharing the skills you have for these tasks can also earn you extra points!
Q: Are there any mentoring programs or training for new members?
Why you should ask this: This shows the employer that you care about your own career growth. And their answers can reflect how much they value their faculty members.
Q: What is the school culture here?
Why you should ask this: Asking this question in your TA interview can help you get a better sense of how you’ll fit into the school.
Q: Are there any major issues that the school is addressing this year? Or any challenges you’re facing?
Why you should ask this: Current issues and challenges often translate into goals for the future. From what the hiring staff shares, you can get a sense of what you’ll be contributing if you are offered the job.
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--- Originally written by Yohan Ke ---