Teacher assistant interview questions are sometimes confusing and difficult to prepare for. Individuals usually feel a tremendous amount of stress trying to get ready for these interviews. This is especially true for new teaching assistants.
To get the best job you possibly could, you will need to perform well on a job interview. Many individuals invest hundreds of dollars into books and training courses to boost their odds of getting the job they desire.
However, this is not necessary. There are much simpler and more efficient ways to do this. By understanding teaching assistant interview questions, you will be much more confident in this process. In this article, we will highlight the top teaching assistant questions and how you can answer them.
What are employers and hiring managers looking for when interviewing people for a teaching assistant role?
Every company is unique. They have unique goals, values, company cultures, and much more. The team makeup is different as well.
Therefore, you can expect hiring managers and employers from different organizations to seek out different qualities in their job applicants. Nonetheless, there are still some qualities that nearly all employers agree they wish their teaching assistants to have. Such qualities can include:
Soft skills with students
Education and technical knowledge are extremely important for teachers to have. Nonetheless, soft skills are perhaps even more important. Soft skills are a wide category of abilities that center around the personality traits which allow teachers to best serve students.
They allow teaching assistants to better understand and empathize with students, communicate more effectively, and actively listen. There are a plethora of other soft skills that help teaching assistants, too, like being team oriented and leadership.
Project management skills
At first, the link between project management and teaching assistants may not seem very clear. However, project management skills are absolutely crucial to have as a teaching assistant.
Project management skills allow the teaching assistant to better plan the day and stay organized. As a result of this, more goals can be met and students are better served.
It is no secret that working as a teacher or teaching assistant can be an extremely stressful job. To be a good fit for this line of work, you will need to learn to control your emotions and keep stress at bay. There are two components to stress resistance.
One is avoiding stress, or ensuring that you do not escalate situations and stay away from unnecessary drama. However, some amount of stress will always be present in your work, and may actually be beneficial. So, you will also need to manage stress and use it as fuel to perform better as opposed to crumbling under stress.
Individuals who work in schools typically need to have some data skills. This is also true for teaching assistants. Teaching assistants will need to analyze data to understand what they need more time assisting kids with and what kids already understand.
They will also need to collect data on other topics, such as what the students are interested in and their parents’ inputs, as well as the inputs from administration. Great data proficiency helps ensure lessons are tailored to the unique students.
Teaching assistants are masters at using teamwork skills. They need to work with the teacher they are assisting, other teachers in the school, administrators, students, and even parents. As a result, if you do not know how to use teamwork abilities, you will be at a significant disadvantage over other candidates.
Teamwork allows the teaching assistant to stay efficient as well as productive while also building strong relationships with their coworkers and students. This results in students achieving their goals more efficiently and building long-lasting trust with teachers.
22 Teacher Assistant Interview Questions and Answers
Now that you are aware of the top traits interviewers are looking for when seeking out teaching assistant candidates, you may be asking yourself: what could they ask me during the interview to see if I possess these skills?
As previously stated, every school has different goals, values, and team makeup. There are often regional differences in team values. Thus, the interview process is different at different schools.
Nonetheless, all schools and educational facilities work with students, and there are some questions that are universally important to ask. Some of the most important and common queries for teaching assistants include:
1. What makes you interested in a career as a teaching assistant?
Schools and educational facilities want to hire individuals who are passionate. They want the people that are loyal to their schools and stand by their students.
Having a reason behind choosing this career is crucial to show your interest and commitment to your work. If you give a strong reason, one with passion and emotion supporting it, the interviewer will be more likely to hire you.
You could answer the question like this:
“I became interested in pursuing a career as a teaching assistant when I met an incredible teacher during my first year of high school. She truly connected with students and showed an immense amount of passion for her career, and I saw how she made students feel excited about learning. I wanted to help teachers make students passionate and excited in a similar way.”
2. Tell me about the greatest strength you have, and how it benefits your career as a teaching assistant.
Many individuals struggle with describing their strengths in interviews. They do not want to appear to arrogant, but they also want to highlight the best of their abilities. It is difficult to strike a balance, but you should openly state what you believe your top strengths are.
Ensure you can support your strengths claims with some examples of your strengths in action. And, highlight how you can use that strength to help the interviewer’s company.
One way to respond to the question is:
“I would say my greatest strength is my ability to resist and mitigate stress. I have been through numerous stressful periods in my life, and I have built up an ability to work well under such difficult circumstances, as evidenced by me performing well as a leader in my last role. I also avoid drama and effectively de-escalate conflicts.”
3. Tell me about your greatest weakness.
Many people struggle with accepting the fact that they are imperfect. They do not want to share their flaws with the interviewer. However, it is reasonable, necessary even, to admit your weaknesses.
This will show the interviewer that you are self aware and willing to recognize your imperfections, which leaves growth for you.
Do not try to downplay your weaknesses or say something along the lines of ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I am too much of a perfectionist.’ Make a note of how you are working on overcoming the weakness as well.
To answer this question, you can say something such as:
“My greatest weakness is my time management. I have so many goals and activities I want to perform, and it is sometimes difficult for me to decide which is most necessary. I have recently been trying to plan the day out a bit more the night in advance, but it is still difficult for me to prioritize tasks.”
4. What makes you interested in working at this school in particular?
Across the country, there are thousands of schools. There are likely quite a few different schools in just your local community, too. So, there has to be something that makes you interested in the interviewer’s school in particular.
This could be the school’s values, or it could be some investment they made for the student’s education. The interviewer wants you to be loyal to the school and its students, and this is your opportunity to prove you will be.
A sample answer could be:
“I identify with the values listed on your school website. The value of empathy has helped me better understand individuals I care about in my own life. It has truly changed numerous relationships I have for the better, and I hope students get to experience that as well. Your investment into the student community with a wealth of different sports programs attracted me, too. Sports are a great way to connect with students in a different setting outside the classroom, and they are a great activity to facilitate bond building.”
5. What do you believe the teaching assistant role entails?
At a very basic level, most people agree on the role of a teaching assistant. The interviewer wants to make sure you are aware of the tasks you will be performing as a teaching assistant. It will show you are prepared and aware of your duties.
However, they also want you to answer in the long term: what role will the teaching assistant play in the student’s long term educational journey?
One way you could respond to the query could be: “I believe that the teaching assistant’s job is to help students acquire the tools to understand the world around them. It is to help students discover their interests and spark a lifelong love of learning.
Teaching assistant should help teachers form stronger bonds with students and enhance the student experience.”
6. Have you ever worked with kids? Tell me about that experience.
If you have experience working with kids, it is great to speak about that experience. Interviewers want to hire individuals who are experienced and know the many intricacies of working with kids.
However, if you do not have experience working with kids, you should admit that up front. Most individuals applying for work in schools should have at least a few experiences working with children, even if they are not formal.
To answer this question, you can say something along the lines of:
“I have had many experiences working with kids. For instance, just last year I worked with preschool children as a teacher’s aid. I was able to learn how to better communicate with kids, and that many young kids prefer visual instruction. I also learned how to hone my patience skills and deal with stress better. The kids respond better to calmer instruction.”
7. What was your greatest moment while working on a team?
Teamwork is a key skill that all teaching assistants need to possess. You will need to work together with other teachers, administrators, students, parents, and other school personnel.
Therefore, the interviewer wants to make sure that you have the ability to work in a team and that you can demonstrate this skill. Share a moment in which your teamwork contributed to the team’s overall success.
One way you could answer this question is:
“My greatest moment working on team was just a few years ago, when I was a junior teaching assistant. We had a few students that needed assistance, and I proposed that teaching assistants should come together and hold free educational sessions for these students after school. Other teachers agreed, and we were able to boost their math and literacy grades by over 25% through this one on one after school teaching program, which involved collaboration between many different educators.”
8. Are skilled at communicating with kids? Which communication strategies do you utilize? Do you personalize your communication method depending on the child you are speaking with? If yes, how do you do this?
Communication is another key part of being a teaching assistant. You must be able to communicate well with kids and retain their attention to be a successful candidate for the position. The interviewer wants to ensure you do not use a one size fits all approach to communication.
It is much better to tailor your communication depending on who you speak with. You should not only state which communication methods you use, but also how you use them and the impact this communication has on kids.
To answer this question, you can say something along the lines of:
“I typically use an empathetic but direct communication style. I am cognizant of the child’s emotions and want to balance easy criticism or feedback with praise. I do change my communication method depending on who I am speaking with. If a child is not response to my instructions, for example, I may use a more assertive communication method. This ensures that I get my point across and help the student learn the best they can.”
9. Are you an organized person? How do you keep yourself organized, and how do you promote organization in a team setting?
Being organized is seen as a great trait in nearly any industry. After all, organization helps you stay focused and efficient. The interviewer is testing how well your organizational skills would fit in with their existing team.
You need to describe the strategies you use to keep yourself organized (such as planning the day out in advance of keeping a to-do list) as well as how you help others stay organized, and the benefit you have brought to prior teams in doing so.
To answer this question, you can say something along the lines of:
“Yes, I consider myself to be an organized individual. I plan my day out ahead of time and have several online folders that helped me keep student information and lesson plans organized. I share my document organization strategies with other teachers willingly, and I help them organize their classrooms whenever they ask for assistance.”
10. Have you ever had to discipline a student? How did you go about doing this?
Discipline is one of the most challenging aspects of being a teacher or teaching assistant. It is tough to tell a child they are wrong, or to scold them and force them to change their behavior.
But, it will sometimes be necessary to intervene in a more direct and assertive manner, and the interviewer wants to ensure the candidate is capable of doing that. You must articulate the strategies you use for discipline and how these strategies are used to benefit the students.
One way you could reply to the question is:
“Yes, I have had times when discipline was needed for the sake of correcting negative behavior on the student’s behalf. For instance, when a student was hitting another student, I separated violent student from the victim, called his parents and the principal, and met up with them to discuss the behavior with de-escalating the situation.”
11. Which strategies do you use to effectively teach students? What types of outcomes do you achieve?
Every teacher has different techniques to improve the student’s learning experience. Some teachers are more direct, while others are passive.
No matter which style you employ, you should ensure you specifically state the methods you utilize to assist students and teach. Also, you need to bring up examples of how this method of teaching helped students in the past.
You can answer the question like this:
“I have used numerous different styles to effectively teach students. The method I found to be most successful is employing empathetic teaching and active listening. With this method, I have been able to build long term bonds with students. Students that I taught 5 years ago still email me to this day to ask for advice based on the trusting relationships we created thanks to my teaching method.”
12. How would you define a good lesson?
A good lesson depend on the outcomes it brings to students. In answering this question, you should focus on your desire to help students discover new facts about the learn and feel a love for learning.
When students are passionate and excited about a topic you teach, and when they are engaged in the content, most individuals what call that a successful lesson. If you have a different idea for what constitutes a good lesson, you can share it as well. Just ensure it ties back to student success and wellbeing.
Your answer could look like something along the lines of:
“To me, a good lesson is one in which students are actively engaged. I love to see students asking questions and truly thinking about the topic I am talking about. I want to see them excited, making comments about the relevant topic, and staying away from distractions.”
13. What would you do if a student was disturbing your class’s learning?
In nearly every class, there will be some students that are unserious about the learning process and actively hurt other student’s ability to learn. The interviewer wants to ensure you can intervene to prevent the distracting student from hijacking the class’s progress and learning.
You should be able to handle such circumstances in a swift but respectful way. If you have experience doing this previously, give the interviewer an overview of the steps you took to reconcile the situation and how it benefitted the class.
In responding to this question, you can say:
“I tend to be quite strict when it comes to a student interfering with everyone else’s learning. At first, I will issue a verbal reminder that such behavior is unacceptable. If it continues, I will talk to the student in private. If after that, the student does not change their behavior, I will send the student to the principal’s office and call the parents to let them know of their child’s behavior.”
14. What strategies do you use to ensure your students feel safe and welcomed in your classroom, and school as a whole? Be specific.
Safety is any schools number one priority. If children do not feel safe, they will not be able to learn and focus. So, you need to have a few strategies in mind for keeping students safe.
These strategies are not just those related to their physical safety, although these are crucially important to know as well. You should also understand how to make students feel welcomed, comfortable, included, and listened to at school.
A sample answer could be:
“To ensure that students feel safe in my classroom, I ensure than I am always able to speak to students one on one about their concerns. I utilize active listening in my conversations with students. I want them to feel comfortable reporting bullying to me, and I will immediately respond to bullying. In addition to this, I teach kids about the importance of accepting one another and inclusivity.”
15. What strategies do you use when speaking to parents? Do you use any particular communication style?
While speaking and disciplining kids is difficult to many teachers, some teachers believe talking to parents can be even more complicated. It is difficult to ensure you do not sound like you are lecturing the parent about their child’s flaws.
But, it is crucial to report bad behavior to parents, and ensure they play an active role in their child’s education. Thus, the interviewer needs to make sure you are capable of doing this.
You could answer with a statement such as:
“When I talk to parents, I ensure that I am honest. If their child is constantly distracting others in class, than I will state that. I am always excited to report their child’s successes in parent teacher conferences, and I ensure that I am specific about the areas of knowledge gaps their child has. I try not to use emotional language, but rather, to give the most accurate picture of their child’s educational experience.”
16. Suppose a child tells you they are bored with the material in class. How would you react?
Children have different gifts. Some are quick to learn certain information, while others struggle. You pr job as a teaching assistant is to make sure every student gets the most out of their education and reaches their top potential.
Thus, you will need to adapt the curriculum to fit the needs of students who learn quickly. This may mean you refer them to a gifted education teacher, or that you create slightly different assignments for them depending on your school.
One way to answer this question would be:
“I always try to ensure that my students are engaged with the content I am teaching. If some student gets bored, I will try to find more about their interests and connect my connect with their interests. If they are bored because my tasks are too easy, I will adapt my curriculum to suit their needs better. I consult with parents to learn more about their child as well.”
17. How would you help a student who is underperforming at school?
As previously mentioned, there will be some students who have an easier time learning than others. Students will need some extra attention and extra time to learn the same materials as the others.
This may mean they need additional support after school. In some cases, the student may need intervention from a special education teacher who modifies the curriculum to best suit the child’s needs.
Your answer could look like something along the lines of:
“When a child is struggling with their schoolwork, I talk to them individually about what they need the most support with. I try to provide them with additional learning resources, and I inform their parents of the child’s struggle so they can get more involved as well. If the child still struggles after that, then I will refer them to a special education teacher so a tailored curriculum is made for the student.”
18. How would you assist a student that seems uninterested in reading?
You will encounter some students that are more reluctant to learning than others during your time as a teaching assistant. You must be able to work with students with a wide range of learning abilities and interests to succeed as a teaching assistant. The interviewer needs to ensure that you can spark a passion for learning in students that may seem uninterested at first.
One way you could respond to this query is like this:
“If I see that a student is struggling with reading and seems uninterested, I will talk to them one on one. It could be that the book I assigned was just uninteresting to them. So, I will learn about their interests, and help them find a book that interests them. I will also try to get their parents involved in helping them read at home.”
19. What would you do to assist a student who struggled with a certain task?
Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. This is certainly true for students as well. As a teaching assistant, it is your job to help students ensure they make the most out of their time as school.
When answering this question, state a few of the potential strategies you would use to assist students. If you gave prior experience with these techniques, give some examples of how the techniques benefitted students.
Your answer could look like something along the lines of:
“If I saw that a student was struggling with a specific task, I would speak to them on their study strategies. They may not understand the way I presented the material, so I would try a different way to present the information to them. In addition, I will also assist them in finding additional practice problems for that skill.”
20. Was there ever a time in which a child or teen student made you worried? What did they do to cause you to become concerned? What did you do to de-escalate the situation? Did you do this alone, or involve someone else?
Teachers and teaching assistants will sometimes encounter uncomfortable situations. However, tone of the most worrying situations a teacher can be placed in is when a student does something dangerous or otherwise concerning.
The interviewer wants to hire someone who is capable of deescalating these situations, and willing to ask others for help when they need it. If you have experience doing this, give the interviewer the details.
One way you could answer this question would be:
“There were a few times in which students acted in concerning ways. One moment I vividly remember was a time in which a student threatened to use violence in himself, and I noticed that his hand was cut up and bruised while he was picking at it. I knew I needed to involve other school personnel, such as the principal and school psychologist. I also asked the student if they felt comfortable at school or if they needed someone they could talk to, and referred them to school counselor for assistance.”
21. Have you ever disagreed with any major decisions teachers you know made? What did you do when (and if) this occurred?
While teamwork is key to working well as a teaching assistant, you will still sometimes encounter disagreements with even your greatest coworkers. These disagreements must be dealt with respect.
On the other hand, you must also be willing to stand up for yourself and your beliefs when these clashes occur. Clearly outline how you handled the situation.
Your response to the question could be something along the lines of:
“I rarely have disagreements with teachers and try to avoid unnecessary conflicts. However, disagreements have occurred. For example, while I was aiding a teacher, I suggested she include more time for questions and slow down the lesson pace. I noticed many students complaining they did not have enough time to write down notes. The teacher I was assisting ended up disagreeing, so I had to look for alternative ways to help students.”
22. What would you do if one of your students hit another student?
Children are imperfect. They may be malicious at times, too. You must be willing to intervene when a student’s safety is at risk. After all, safety is the paramount value of any school. Interviewers do not want you to look the other way.
Instead, they want to see candidates who are committed to upholding safety and addressing inappropriate behavior in a swift manner.
You answer could be something along the lines of:
“I have no tolerance for behaviors that endanger the safety of others. Student safety is my top priority. So, if a student were to hurt another student, I would immediately remove the violent student from my classroom and send them to the counselor or principal’s office. I would ensure that the punched student was not hurt, and if they were, would tend to their care and call the nurse. I would also speak to the violent students parents to find an appropriate punishment.”
Questions for You to Ask in a Teacher Assistant Job Interview
Previously, we described the many potential questions that interviewers like to bring up to assess a candidate’s overall personality and readiness for the position. However, interviewers are not entirely one-sided, although they often seem to be.
You should actively engage in the interview as much as you can. One way to do this is through asking a few questions of your own to the interviewer. This will not only show that you are engaged but it will also show that you are passionate as well as curious.
All of these are great qualities to have as a teacher’s assistant.
Just a few potential questions you could ask the interviewer include:
- When are you seeking to fill this role?
- Who is the main manager or administrator for this school (or organization)?
- Which tools will be available to me?
- Do you give new teaching assistants any training? If so, what does that training entail?
- How frequently can I expect performance reviews and ‘sit ins’ to occur?
- What management styles are most common for administrators at this school?
- How would you describe an ideal candidate for this position?
How To Prepare for a Teaching Assistant Job Interview
If you ask any teaching assistant whether their work is stressful, nearly all of them will say yes (although it is rewarding). In fact, the stress of being a teaching assistant begins before you even receive the job for most people.
After all, preparing for the interview is extremely stressful for nearly any individual. However, it does not have to be.
There are numerous strategies you can employ to decrease your stress and boost your confidence when preparing for a teaching assistant job interview. For one, you should read over the potential questions you could be asked during the interview (as we provided above).
Do not just read these questions, though: you should also make a quick sample answer/outline. This will make you more confident and less flustered when asked such questions.
In addition to this, you should also recall your prior experiences of being a teaching assistant. Bring your CV and resume with you.
Read over your work experiences and remember why these experiences are meaningful to you, and why they would be meaningful to the interviewer. Ensure you have a completed and thorough CV.
Finally, you should also do some research into the school or organization you are applying to work for. If you know someone who worked there, ask them about the interview process. Make some notes about the questions they were asked if they remember.
You could also look on sites like Glassdoor or Indeed. In addition, try to understand the school’s values. See if they are listed on their website. And, ensure that you look over other programs the school offers, like sports or extracurricular activities. This way, you can show off your preparedness and interest.
The STAR method is a fantastic outline you could use to better prepare for your interview. Each letter represents a different step you can take to boost your odds of acquiring the job you dream of.
This is the way you can create a compelling story to get you hired. The S represents situation, or the background details to your example/story.
Tasks represents the role you played in the situation you are describing. Action will tell the interviewer your response to a problem. And finally, the R represents results, or what occurred after you made a certain decision.
If you follow the STAR method, your personal stories and examples you bring up during the interview will be succinct and easy to follow. If a question asks you about how you reacted to a certain event, you can and should utilize the STAR outline.
Questions that begins with prompts such as “tell me about a time” or “describe a moment when” are a few examples of times you could use the STAR outline.
Teaching Assistant Interview Questions FAQ
What are good qualities of a TA?
Every teacher assistant is unique, with their own unique strengths, weaknesses, and personality. Nonetheless, when schools are looking for the best possible teaching assistant candidates, they have a few qualities in mind. For one, a teacher’s assistant should be empathetic.
She or he should be able to connect with students and have excellent communication skills. In addition, the assistant should also be able to avoid and manage stress as well as stay organized. Great teaching assistants are also great problem solvers and know how to think critically.
What is the most important role of a teaching assistant?
Teaching assistants play a crucially important role in children’s education. They also assist teachers with their tasks, and help keep the teaching process efficient. Perhaps one of the most important roles of the teaching assistant is to instill a passion for learning in children.
Beyond just educating children on a certain topic, great teaching assistants know how to make kids truly engaged. They create welcoming classes in which kids actively ask questions and want to learn more. This love of learning lasts a lifetime, and may change outcome of their future education for years to come.