Interview Prep for Teaching Assistants

In no particular order, here are some interview questions you may be asked for a standard TA/LSA interview. Some of them may not come up, and you may be asked questions not listed, but this should give you a good heads-up of standard questions and the typical answers that the school will be looking for. 

  1. Why do you want to be a Teaching Assistant/Learning Support Assistant / What is your understanding of the role? 

You should have your own reasoning around wanting to be an LSA/TA, but it should always be focused on the children’s benefit and not your own. For example, you want to help provide children with the best opportunities to progress and grow, ensuring all children have the chance to achieve their best, even if that means more support. Not everyone starts at the same level or learns in the same way. 

The role of a TA/LSA is to support both teaching and learning. Show your passion and dedication. There are many great reasons you could discuss, such as the satisfaction of helping students overcome learning difficulties, that no two days are the same or that it is an incredibly rewarding job. It is important to add your own experiences in your answer. 

  1. Why do you want to work at the school? 

A great opportunity for you to show your research on the school and add why you like it. For instance, if you saw the school has a focus on outdoor learning, mention your own personal interests etc. 

  1. Safeguarding – what do you think safeguarding means / why is it important / what would you do in a certain scenario 

Safeguarding is a huge priority for all schools. The aim of safeguarding is to have a process in place that ensures children and staff are protected and safe at school.

If a child reports something to you, or you witness something concerning, no matter how big or small, you should always report it to the school’s DSL (Designated Safeguarding Lead). This is often the Headteacher or Deputy Headteacher. This way, even if you report something minor, it may result in a bigger picture being reported if all members of staff are reporting separate small incidents about the same child. 

You may notice on a one-off occasion that a child hasn’t been sent to school with lunch, or is dirty. On its own, it may not be overly concerning. However, the DSL may have received reports of seven similar incidents by other members of staff, obviously showing a cause for concern. 

  1. How would you motivate a child that didn’t want to learn/didn’t understand the work?

Talk about different techniques you could use, whether that meant simplifying the work, asking leading questions and giving them more information or making the learning more visual/interactive. For maths, for example, you could use number cubes or draw a cake and cut it into pieces. 

  1. How would you deal with behaviour if a child was being disruptive in a lesson? 

Try to provide an answer that goes through a process, not jumping to an answer that you would immediately take the child out of the classroom or discipline them. Explain that you would verbally warn them, use positive reinforcement to show them other children are behaving well, explain the consequences of them not behaving, and then remove them from the classroom quietly if they still were not behaving. 

  1.  What are your future ambitions? 

Talk about your future ambitions, why you want to be a TA/LSA etc. Try not to let it overshadow the fact that you want to be an LSA/TA. Don’t make the answer all about how it will benefit you personally, but also about how you can add value to the children/class you work with. 

  1. Tell us about your experience working with children / SEN so far 

Include answers that mention different age ranges and abilities where possible. This requires a simple answer, as you are just talking about yourself and your own experience. The interviewer will want to know about your relationship with children and how you overcome difficulties with students that lead to positive results. It is a good idea to provide examples of types of special educational needs students you have worked with and show your understanding of the issues that affect pupils with varying educational needs. 

  1. How would you communicate with children? 

Effectively communicating with children is an essential skill to have when working as a learning support assistant. Communicating with children may sound easy, but it can be tricky as children don’t like to feel patronised and they don’t have an adult’s range of vocabulary or understanding of complex language. When answering this question, talk about how you communicate with children and discuss some methods you would use to communicate most effectively. You can talk about recognising the range of needs, the role of music, visual aids and using actions or even simple things like speaking at their eye level, using simpler vocabulary, or a happy tone. 

  1. How would you communicate with parents?

The question may be more detailed, for example how you would communicate with parents if a child misbehaves or isn’t making progress. Truth be told, the teacher would likely be having these conversations however if you are working as a dedicated LSA/TA with one child in particular, it is likely you will meet and chat with the parents to ensure the learning is continued at home and progress is being made. 

Knowing how to work with students’ parents is just as important as knowing how to work with the students themselves, especially students with special educational needs. It is good to demonstrate your understanding of the importance of this by discussing ways you will work or communicate with them. 

You can talk about keeping regular communication with parents, and keeping open communication channels, including. face-to-face, phone, email, and building a relationship of trust and understanding of their family context. 

  1. Questions around supporting students from deprived backgrounds, of different races, cultures and religions. 

Most London primary schools cater to above-average SEN, as well as children from deprived backgrounds/low-income families. London is also an incredibly diverse place, meaning staff need to be mindful of different races, religions and cultures among the children they support and teach. 

You may be asked what you think it means to work in a diverse/multicultural school. Schools will just want to ensure you are switched on enough to know this.

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