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Teaching Assistant Interview Help Please!

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by heather96, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. heather96

    heather96 New commenter

    Hello, I am hoping some of you could help me! I need advice on what to expect at some interviews I have this week, such as what type of questions, tests (I have been told I have tests to do before the interview) or activities I could be expected to do. Any general advice would also be appreciated.

    I have two interviews this week for a teaching assistant position, one for an Academy for children with special educational needs (they offer a training programme if successful), and another for a local primary school. I have never had an interview for a position like this before, and have close to zero experience with children with special educational needs. My cousin has Aspergers and I have close friends with dyslexia who I have known since I was about 10 so I have some personal experience there. I have about 9 months experience of volunteering as a classroom assistant in a primary school and have just graduated with a degree in Education. I have also been doing an accredited online teaching assistant level 2 course since I finished university, and I am still studying that. I know I have the right personality for the job, I am just a bit nervous.

    One last thing, I have a holiday booked next year to go to Florida, this has been booked by my boyfriend since January and it can't be changed. We are going in the Easter holiday next year but we leave two days before the Easter holiday starts, which would still be term time. I will want to mention this in the interview obviously, but I am worried it will affect my chances of getting the job, how do I go about bringing it up?

    Sorry for that being so long! Thank you so much for reading and I hope you guys can help!
  2. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Hi Heather.

    First of all congratulations!! In these very precarious times you have done so well to get not one, but two interviews!! You must have had a very strong application to get through the first stage. Maybe you could help me instead!! Hehe!

    The personal experiences you have, as you say your cousin and friends will be one if your strengths so certainly do mention it in interviews. If training is involved then all the better but it would be wise to have a look at the NAS (National Autistic Society) website for information.

    There are some great Teaching Assistant forums on Facebook. We cover everything and the support network is amazing. Loads of useless documents out together by dedicated people who want to help others.

    Read around Safeguarding and Sen policies of a school, how to differentiate a task, emotional and challenging behaviour, how to support children with learning difficulties.

    You may wish to take a look at some Educational Theory books, also ones on motivating students and positive behaviour reinforcement.

    For the primary role, look again at the school website and make notes regarding their mission statement, curriculum etc. I always say to research the school website thoroughly so looking at everything on there. You can then hopefully see what the children are covering this term.

    Above all be resilient, adaptable and confident. Draw upon your child based experience. Remember they want highly enthusiastic academic individuals but more importantly they want to see your vitality for learning and dedication for the students.

    Don't mention the holiday in the interview but if you are successful. It's just one of those things that was booked in advance. I don't think they can deny you to go but you may not be paid for that period.
  3. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    Hi @heather96,
    some great advice from @pickles124 above.
    The pre-tests are most likely literacy and maths ones. I'm not sure why you would need to do them when you have a degree in Education, but it may just be a standard thing that they do when they have applicants that come from many different backgrounds.
    I have to ask the question though, (because they probably will)- why are you becoming a teaching assistant when you are clearly quailified to do your NQT year? You don't need to answer me here, but do have a good thought out answer for your interviews. Do consider that you have qualified in more depth than a person who took a degree and took their PGCE as a year long course after their degree. Or have I misunderstood the situation somehow?
  4. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Hi heather96
    Excellent advice from above posters. I agree, the pre-tests will probably be English and Maths. Many schools I know use questions from the KS2 SATS papers ... they're available on-line so have a look at last year's Reading; Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation and Maths papers. This will give you an idea of what you might be asked to do.
    There will definitely be some safeguarding and SEN questions, possibly scenarios - "What would you do if ...?" If you are really stuck on any of these, you can always say that you would a) familiarise yourself with the school policy as soon as you started and make sure you were dealing with the situation in line with the policy and b) refer it to your class teacher/line manager or appropriate SLT.
    Definitely have a look at the school website. I frequently interview prospective TAs and am always impressed with those that have researched this. Then, when they ask the question "What can you bring to the role/school?" you can link your answer to something specific. Don't forget to mention if you have any special skills or talents - can you play the piano? sing in a choir? play in a netball team? Primary schools are always interested in useful skills!
    You are very likely to meet children on your visit - interviewers will be very interested in how you interact with them. Smile, say hello and ask about what they are doing - be interested.
    You don't need to mention your booked holiday at interview stage, but do let them know asap if they offer you the job.
    Finally, be confident. Be honest when asked about your future plans. If you are thinking of a year or two as a TA (to see if this is really what you want) before moving into teaching, say so.
    Best of luck and let us know how you get on!
  5. heather96

    heather96 New commenter

    @pickles124 @sunshineneeded
    Thank you all for your replies! They have been very helpful. I went to the SEN teaching assistant interview and it was a very friendly school, the assessment was based on scenarios and how you would react, as well as writing a letter to a parent and writing what was most important out of an extract for a child's report which is read every day by the parent. So very different to what I was expecting as I thought it would be literacy and numeracy tests for that one!

    I had time to interact with the children and got through to the formal interview, where like most of you suggested I was asked scenarios, and I did mention I played the piano, and how much I value the arts and believe they can be extremely useful in relation to learning. During the interview, they did ask whether there was anything else I wanted to talk about, and I did mention the holiday, I just felt like I needed to as they specifically asked whether there was anything else important! They were very understanding, lovely and had a good laugh and joked that I should take them with me and said they would honour the holiday if I got the job!

    I got a call later in the afternoon telling me 'congratulations, we would like to offer you the position!'. I honestly didn't expect to get it as there were 4 other people there for the day for the same role, and some had much more experience in schools, some even 10 years with special educational needs too. So yeah, I was pretty shocked, but pleased as it was my first interview for a TA job! I accepted and we just have to get my DBS done now and get my references.

    @galerider123 I have an Education BA (Hons) degree, but it doesn't have a QTS, so I will have to do another year for a PGCE to become qualified. Which in the future I may do, but for now I wanted to get out and do some work in the schools, the last three years were pretty full on, and me and my partner would like to move out of my parents house one day so I needed to get out and be in the working world! :)
    galerider123 likes this.
  6. olunchick

    olunchick Occasional commenter

    Congratulations heather! Very well done! Some positivity was needed on the forum, at least someone got the job! Good luck in your new role andI hope you enjoy it!
  7. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Hi @heather86 I've got a special needs teaching assistant interview coming up shortly.

    What sort of questions did you get asked, and what did you do in class?

    Thank you and well done. I did say to you that i need your help! Haha
  8. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Congratulations, heather! You must've done really well at the interview. Exciting times ahead - enjoy your new job!
  9. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    Well done!
  10. snugglepot

    snugglepot Occasional commenter

    Great news.
  11. heather96

    heather96 New commenter

    In the class it was just how you were with the children, and how you interacted with them, we were doing free flow play so the children just did what they wanted to do! We then did a little sign language song at the end, ( I don’t know sign language so they just wanted to see if you got involved and were enthusiastic I think).

    The questions were the general safeguarding questions, they asked how you would help with reading, what you think of the most recent changes in education, and they also asked about childrens personal care and how you would handle that. The rest were just general questions! Hope that helps! :) good luck!
  12. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Aww ok i did consider taking stickers in. Then i read somewhere that stickers may upset some children or trigger some emotional response? So i will stick to verbal praise, lots of smiles and thumbs up.

    Do you think its wise to learn a few sign language bits and bobs such as 'hello', 'well done' and 'super effort'.

    May i ask what your response was to how you would support reading. I would say use a coloured lollystick or a finger to make it easier to read each word, speak slowly. Maybe use a reading frame?

    Recent changes to education? What did you say for that one.
  13. snugglepot

    snugglepot Occasional commenter

    I think it would be a good idea to learn a few signs Pickles. It shows you have made an effort.
    pickles124 likes this.
  14. fareena_jjames

    fareena_jjames New commenter

    Hi, I have a TA interview on Monday for secondary/ sixth form. And a HTLA ( primary school) interview on Wednesday coming week. I need advice as to what to expect, regarding activities, case scenario, questions. Any help will be higher appreciated.
  15. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    As a primary HLTA, I have no idea what they will ask you for the sixth form interview - but I would like to know; I'm sure it would be a very interesting role. For the primary one - they will ask something about safeguarding, probably on the lines of 'What would you do if ….?' You would make sure you were familiar with the school's safeguarding policy and follow it to the letter - that's basically the answer needed. They will probably give you one or two behaviour scenarios and ask what you would do. They may ask about your knowledge of the curriculum, could be anything from phonics to KS2 SATs, depending on which year/phase group the role is for. They will also ask you to talk about your previous experience.
    Are you expecting to be observed working with a group? If so, the main thing they will be looking for there is how you interact with the children. Introduce yourself, ask their names, keep them on task and smile!
    Some schools now ask prospective HLTAs to complete a written task - could be a few questions from a KS2 SATs grammar or maths paper, or marking a piece of work.
    It would be a really good idea to have a look at each school's website so that you can say, 'I see that you have a kitchen garden where the children grow vegetables which are used in the school kitchen. That's wonderful, I'm a keen gardener and would love to be involved in that,' - or the school opera society or whatever. That always goes down well.
    Best of luck with the interviews and let us know how you get on.

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