Questions to Ask in an Interview for a Teacher’s Aide
Much of a TA’s value comes from personal attitudes and qualities, as opposed to on-paper qualifications, so good interview questions attempt to bring those out.
Most regular classrooms usually have only one teacher for every 20 to 30 students. However, students with special needs often demand individual attention and require the personal assistance of a teacher’s aide. These aides play a supportive, yet important role in their classrooms. Asking the right questions during the interview process will help you screen potential candidates and select the most suitable person for the position.
Educational Background and Past Experiences
Although most teacher aide positions require only a high school diploma, additional courses or programs can be beneficial. Begin the interview by stating, “We value lifelong learning,” and continue with, “Have you undertaken any further formal studies since your graduation?” Then ask, “Have you acquired any recent knowledge about how children learn?” Go on to ask the applicant’s favorite subjects in high school or college, and which subjects gave her the most difficulty?” For an idea of the applicant’s technical prowess, ask questions about system and application proficiency as well as social networking savvy.
Describe a scenario and ask how the candidate would behave in that situation: “How would you handle a student who became violent in class with you or with another child?” “If you were working with a child who had ADHD and could not sit still for more than five minutes, what would you do?” “If a student was in tears after recess because they had been bullied in the playground, what would you do?” “How would you help a student who was frequently absent due to chronic illness?” “What would you do to help a student in seventh grade who still could not read because of a language processing disability?”
Teacher aides need to accept the authority of the classroom teacher, who is the one responsible for the curriculum, classroom management and student progress. They also need to be confident, enthusiastic individuals to best help their students. Ask questions that will give insight into an applicant’s personality such as: “What are your strengths? Weaknesses?” “If I asked your friends to list three things about you, what would they say?” “If the classroom teacher asked you to do something you felt was wrong, what would you do?” “What do you believe is the most important part of the teacher aide’s job?” “Describe a recent situation when you felt particularly proud of something you did that involved helping children.”
To understand what the candidate believes about teaching and learning, ask, “What are the advantages and disadvantages of integrating special needs students into regular classrooms?” and “Who was the best teacher you had as a student? What made him/her so great?” To glean information about her approach to children who need extra help, ask, “To what extent should the curriculum be modified to accommodate students with special needs?” and “Should a student ever be held back a grade? Why or why not?” and “Most teachers today have a child-centered approach to teaching. What are the benefits of this approach compared to teacher-directed learning?” To get an idea of her ideas about cooperative education and group work, ask, “What are the advantages and disadvantages of small group collaborative learning?”