The hiring committee will ask you a variety of questions, trying to understand whether you have the right personality for this job, whether you understand what will be expected from you. They will also try to assess your attitude to special needs students, and to various situations that happen in a work of a teacher assistant, virtually on a daily basis.
Screening, behavioral, and technical questions (all of them related to the job) will help them to create a good picture about you, and to decide whether it makes sense to hire you, or to prefer someone else for the vacancy. Let’s have a look at the questions.
- Why teacher assistant, and not a teacher? You can refer to shorter education program, your preference to individual work with students, or your desire to work with special needs students. You can also say that you consider the position as your first step on your career journey, and may become a teacher, or even an assistant principal one day down the road.
- Why do you want to work at our school, and not at another one? Focus on their reputation, goals and values they have, study programs they offer, or the location of the building of the school. You can also praise them for their work with the students with special needs, if they run any special programs for them, or for example employ plenty of teacher assistants to help the students in question. One way or another, they should feel that you genuinely want to work for them, and did not apply by a chance.
- Why this grade, and not another one? Tell them that you believe that you have the right personality to work with elementary/secondary/other grade students, that you understand their emotions and challenges they face. Alternatively you can say that you feel ready to work with any grade, and simply applied for the available vacancy.
- What teaching methods do you prefer and why? You can say that you prefer individual approach to each student, because that is mostly what you will do as a teacher assistant–helping individual students during the classes, or students with special needs. You can also emphasize that you have a knowledge of various teaching methods, and will try to always choose the most appropriate method for the lesson and the situation in the classroom.
- What do you consider the main duties of a teacher assistant at our school? Job description should help you to find a good answer. Try to mention a variety of duties, demonstrating your proactive approach to work. You can also approach the question from a different angle, saying that you plan to help the main teacher with anything they may need during the lessons. Alternatively you can focus on the students, and separating your role from a role of a teacher in the classroom. Your main duty is to ensure that individual students, who need special attention and help, manage to keep pace with the lesson.
- How do you feel about special needs students? Do you have any experience working with them? In many cases, you will work primarily with children with special education needs. Tell the interviewers that you feel for them, that try to understand how to work with them in a best possible way, and actually look forward to working with students who need your help. .
- Is there any subject you do not like to teach? Each of us has their most favorite and their least favorite subject, and you can definitely say it in an interview. But you should emphasize that you understand the importance of the entire curriculum, and will try your best in every lesson–regardless of the subject you’d teach.
- Describe a conflict you had with one of your colleagues (students). How did you solve the conflict?
- Describe a time when you didn’t know what to do in the classroom (problems with discipline, or another situation). Problems with discipline happen in every single classroom, and in some cases they will form your daily bread. The key is to show the interviewers that you are not afraid of the situation, and have an idea about how to address the most common problems in the classroom. You can also emphasize the lessons you learned while facing the problems, and how they helped you to become a better teacher/teacher assistant.
- Why should we hire you, and not one of the other applicants for this job?
- Can you name the main problems teachers face nowadays? How would you address them?
- What do you expect from the administrators and from the principal?
Answers, presence, connection
Success in an interview does not depend only on your answers to their questions (though it depends mostly on them). What you do, and how they feel with you in an interview is also important.
Most people who sit in the hiring committees at schools aren’t professional interviewers–they are teachers and education administrators. Bearing it in mind, personal preferences will always play a role in this interview. If they feel good with you, if they can imagine sharing the staff-room with you, and if you give them good interview answers, they will hire you.
Great eBook with answers to all difficult teacher interview questions
Do you find it difficult to answer the questions from this article? Do you experience stress in job interviews (or before them)? One eBook can make things 100 times easier for you. Teacher Interview Guide, an eBook from Glen Hughins, a reputable interview coach from Philadelphia who co-operates with us and writes for Interview Penguin, will show you brilliant answers to 28 most common teaching interview questions (and much more).
You can see the samples from the book, and purchase it for a special price, on the following page: eBook, discounted copy.
May also interest you:
- Teacher interview questions – Many questions overlap with the position of teacher assistant.
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to negotiate the best possible salary in your interview.
- How to overcome interview nerves – Get rid of anxiety and improve your chances of succeeding in an interview.