34 Special Needs Teaching Assistant Interview Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A special needs teaching assistant works alongside special education teachers. They help teachers in schools by providing support to children with behavioural, physical and learning challenges. If you want to work as a special needs teaching assistant, it's important to prepare and review some questions hiring managers may ask during the interview. In this article, we share some common special needs teaching assistant interview questions, along with examples and tips to help you answer them.

10 general special needs teaching assistant interview questions

A hiring manager, who may be a school administrator, principal or teacher, may ask you general special needs teaching assistant interview questions to learn more about you as a professional, including the strengths you contribute to the organisation and the work environment you enjoy most. These interview questions can also help them understand more about your motivation and determine if you're a good fit with the current team. Here are some general interview questions they may ask you during an interview for a special needs teaching assistant position:

  1. What are your greatest strengths?

  2. What made you choose special education as your teaching assistant specialisation?

  3. Why do you want to work for our school?

  4. What differentiates you from other candidates applying for this role?

  5. What are your career goals?

  6. Describe the work setting or environment you thrive the most in.

  7. How would other people describe you, both professionally and personally?

  8. What motivates you?

  9. Why are you leaving your current place of employment?

  10. Do you have any questions for us?

Related: What Are Teacher Assistant Duties? (Plus Salary and FAQs)

10 questions about background and experience

Because being a special needs teaching assistant can be uniquely challenging, hiring managers often ask candidates about their background and experience. These interview questions can also help them learn more about your qualifications so they can compare your work experience to other candidates and determine the best one for the position. Your response can show the hiring managers your dedication to the job and your ability to manage challenging situations. Here are a few example questions hiring managers may ask:

  1. Discuss a mistake you've made at work and how you resolved it.

  2. Which school administrators or teaching professionals have you worked closely with in the past and in what capacity?

  3. Discuss a time when you have disagreed with a teacher's evaluation of a student. What did you do?

  4. What has been your greatest professional achievement?

  5. Tell me about the lessons you've learned from the special needs teaching assistants you've worked with?

  6. Have you handled a physical incident between students before? What did you do?

  7. Describe your experience in behaviour management.

  8. How do you keep students engaged and motivated, as a group and individually?

  9. Which strategies for students with special needs have you used in your previous positions?

  10. How do you make sure all students or children feel equally supported by you?

Related: How to Be a Special Education Teacher (Definition, Duties and Salary)

10 in-depth questions

Hiring managers may ask you a few in-depth interview questions to know more about how you've supported special education teachers in the past. These interview questions also allow them to learn more about your strategies for assisting in the classroom, addressing student problems and communicating with parents or guardians about a student's progress. Here are some examples of in-depth interview questions to prepare for receiving them during the interview:

  1. If you notice a pupil is having a hard day, what's your approach to making it better?

  2. What has been the most difficult part of working as a special needs teaching assistant?

  3. What is inclusion and how important it is to you?

  4. Student comfort is crucial for any special education class. What are your strategies to make sure students feel confident and comfortable in your presence?

  5. What do you think is the most fulfilling or rewarding part of working with this particular student population?

  6. What's the best way to evaluate a student's progress?

  7. What would you do if a student is misbehaving?

  8. What is your strategy to stay committed to professional development in your role?

  9. How would you set goals for each child to work towards?

  10. How would you handle a child in crisis?

Related: 15 Common Difficult Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

4 interview questions with example answers

Here are a few special needs teaching aide questions with example answers to help you prepare for an interview with a potential employer:

1. How significant is parental involvement for the success of a student?

It's important for special needs teaching assistants to communicate with the guardians and parents of the students in their classroom. A teacher might ask for your help with performing this task, so being able to describe what you think or how you feel about parental involvement is important. Consider describing how you plan on ensuring that you're informing guardians or parents about the progress of their child and that they stay involved in the education of their students.

Example answer: "I believe that parental involvement is crucial to the success of a student. As a special needs teaching assistant, I do as much as I can to help students during class hours, and I have noticed a correlation between how well a child thrives in class and parental involvement. To encourage guardians or parents to remain involved in the education of their child, I support the teaching by setting expectations, asking for periodic meetings with parents and writing regular report cards. Also, I think it's very important to listen to the parents' concerns so that we can help each other develop a solution."

Related: What are Scenario Questions in an Interview? (With Examples)

2. As a teaching assistant, how do you best support the teachers?

Special needs teaching assistants provide lots of support to special education teachers they work alongside. To answer this interview question effectively, consider describing your work ethic. It's also important to discuss your individual process for ensuring those special education teachers you support get the help they need.

Example answer: "I think every special education teacher differs in how they organise or manage a class and the unique support they require each class or session. When I start a new job, I ask the teacher I work alongside about what they need the most help with and create a plan to ensure they get it from me.

I stay open to training and feedback. I'm also able to adjust my responsibilities or duties depending on what the teacher asks of me at that time. Adaptability is important in any assistant position, and I'm ready and committed to giving that to teachers so that I can be an excellent resource for them."

Related: 4 Situational Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

3. What do you think is the most important quality for someone to have in this role?

There are several soft skills that hiring managers may look for when choosing a new special needs teaching assistant. They may ask this interview question to understand more about your own skills. This question also allows them to determine how you assess the needs of this role. To answer this question effectively, consider providing one quality and discuss how that quality or trait helped you in your previous role.

Example answer: "I think one of the most important qualities a special needs teaching assistant can have is patience. In my previous role, this quality can help when students are having a challenging day. It can also help ensure they feel comfortable. With patience, I can take the time a child needs to help them understand a concept, so they feel supported in their learning. A patient demeanour can calm a child and motivate them to keep trying to achieve their goals."

Related: Common Teaching Assistant Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

4. Describe your experience working with students who have special needs?

Hiring managers may ask this interview question to assess your experience in working with students who have special needs. These questions can also help them understand what you like or don't like as much about working in an assistant role. Take a moment to think about your answer before responding so that you can ensure you're accurately describing your feelings about the role.

Example answer: "Having worked as a special needs teaching assistant for a few years, I can say that the role can be challenging, but it's also very fulfilling. I believe that my work impacts my students' lives directly, and there's no greater feeling than that. Supporting students with special needs can give you insight, and I've actually learned a lot of life lessons from the teachers and students I've supported in previous roles."

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