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Interview Help Please!


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I have applied today for the position of Teaching Assistant in a reception class starting in January. I saw the job advertised on the local authority site and dashed to the school to apply because the cut off point was 12 today. I had to fill the forms in, which was fine, but then I had to write a covering letter off the top of my head! I have a standard one on the computer which I print off and adapt according to the roles I am applying for, but I was somewhat unprepared today!


Anyway, I have been invited to attend an interview this coming Tuesday whereby I have to read a story to the children currently in reception which gets them involved. The recommendation is that it is between 15-20 minutes long although it can be shorter so obviously I want to go for the recommended time. I am then going to have a 20 minute interview with the DHT (who is the reception teacher) and the HT. I think I will be ok at this bit!


I have been out of practice now since November 2007 and I have never worked in a school setting before. I have a few vague ideas but I need something really exciting and involving for the children. I don't know if there is a current theme or topic going on, but I think I have free reign when it comes to the choice. I was thinking of ringing on Monday to ask if there is a specific area they would like me to look at, but then the interview will be the following day so not sure if there would be enough time to prepare...


Help me please! What can I do? I was initially thinking along the lines of a story sack of some description but then I am not very confident in using these and I am likely to be nervous too, so that might not be such a good idea.


I really want this job. Now I have finished my FD, I can see my goal of becoming a teacher in sight and I am going to need this school experience if I am to apply for a PGCE, which will be in two years time once I have completed my degree from September next year. I have told them this at the school so it has GOT to be good.


Please help me!


Thanks in advance!

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I work at a sessional preschool and when it my turn for story time I ususally like to read a familiar story - which isnt diffuclt as I have 3 grandchildren who I read to frequently and rather than using a story sack I use my own props usually ones I am famliar with and give these out to the children . Ten in a bed , ten lttle monkeys sitting in a tree teasing Mr Crocodile - the children have the monkeys and sometimes I let two of the chidren have the corocdile puppet maybe choose one children with be familair with so they can join in with , one that provokes questions maybe. Or if you are confident enough tell a familiar story with prorps from memory. i.e Goldilocks and the three bear. Sorry think Ive rambled a bit. Good Luck for Tuesday.



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"We're going on a Bear Hunt"

" Peace at Last"


Anything with a repeating refrain. Choose something you like and will be comfortable with. If this were a preschool interview with the same remit, what would you do? Can you do that and take it up a notch as the children are older.


Can you think of a Christmas story that would be appropriate? Can you make resources for something like the Jolly Christmas postman and get the children to retell the sequence of the story?


Good luck Clare.

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Well done for getting the interveiw!!!!


20 minutes is a long time for a story which has no props! How about Old Macdonald as a story (with stuffed animals as props or masks or similar) and then some songs? Three little pigs? with straw, a brick and some sticks etc, ask the children to see if they can blow down the straw etc? Sparkle box does some great props for other stories that you could print and laminate, perhaps you could look on there and see if there is a story that you are happy and confident with?


I have been for quite a few interviews recently and what featured quite heavily in all of them was behaviour management and child protection. And all of them asked what training further training I thought I required. But you sound highly experienced so I am sure you will sail through the interview with flying colours.


Good luck and dont forget to let us know how you got on.



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Claire, well done on the interview!


I am studying NVQ3 at the mo and in placement in a pre-school playgroup so dont have much experience when it comes to using props to tell stories, yet!!


Any books I know off dont seem to last that long, although I have read some great books, not just in playgroup but at home too. Particular favourite of mine is called Shhh, by Sally Grindley and Peter Uton. Its about visiting a giants castle and has peepholes on the pages, asking if you had woke his cat, wife, dog up. It really gets the kids going when you do it in a whispering kind of voice and really captures their attention. I have also read it to my son and his friends and they loved it too and they are all 5-6.


I only mention this book as the children reacted so well to it and ask for it to be read again.


Good luck for Tuesday and let us know how you got on.

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Well done on getting an interview!


I would suggest a book with a repeated refrain - we're going on a bear hunt is a good one or peace at last. Lots of sounds children can join in with. Using props will be good idea as 15-20 mins is along time. When we looked at 'we're going on a bear hunt' recently a student we had photographed characters from the book, lamintaed, cut out and put on wooden spoons - easy to make as props. Could add other props too - grass etc but make it manageable! Peace at last you could have selection of noise props from the story. Try and get hold of a big book of story if possible. If want to make it festive could get hold of / make props for a nativity scene and read related book. I have this week read my reception class Laura's Star and Laura's Christmas Star.

Just involve the children - Look at front cover, title etc and make it fun / interesting...


Good luck!

Julie :o

(early years Coord, lit coord)

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Good luck! I agree with all the points above, especially choosing something you are really familiar with. The only thing I was wondering was having a few related action rhymes up your sleeve to pad out your time, but hopefully you won't need them.

Let us know how you get on!

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Congratulations on getting an interview!


I totally agree with all the advice above, stick with something you are totally familiar with. "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" is a favourite, I've found and as many have already said Sparklebox is a brilliant source for props you could laminate. I just did a quick look for masks of the characters on there, but couldn't find any, as getting the children to act it out with masks would be wonderful.


Based on my own experience when I did a Bear Hunt theme with my Reception class whilst on teaching practice, we used different musical instruments to make the different sounds. We knew the different areas the family walked through and the children themselves selected different instruments they thought would be appropriate for each area. The children should all know the story fairly well and we read the story as a class and the children pitched in with their musical instrument at the appropriate time. It's a brave idea to undertake during an interview, but the DHT and HT may very well applaud you for your bravery!


Best of luck whatever you decide to do, and let us know how you get on! :o


Rosey x

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I work in a pre-school but have done a few reading workshops in my son's school. Two really good books I and the children enjoyed were Once upon a time by Vivian French and Once upon a picnic by John Prater. Both have nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters in the background, so though the books aren't long they can be easily extended by talking about these characters/stories and the children used finger and stick puppets to join in with the stories. I really like Rosey's idea of using instruments for going on a bear hunt also.

Good luck with the interview Clare,


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Hello again, just thought I would update you all and thank you for your fab ideas!


I spoke to Natalie's teacher at school and asked her if she had any ideas (you wouldn't believe how many people I have hassled for inspiration!) and she leant me 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' and the puppets to go with the story.


The story went really well, although I only had 4 puppets and stupidly only gave them to 4 children, so panicked and then encouraged the children to share them round which I think took as long as the story!


The interview part was like nothing I was expecting and feedback from one of the interviewers has highlighted the need for bigging up experience by elaborating on things such as the curriculum. This would seem really very obvious now, but at the time, I was nervous, shaking and had just had a coughing fit... xD


Anyway, the outcome was positive, I start in my new role as reception TA in January! I am thoroughly excited and can't wait to get back into it.


Thank you once again for all your kind words and suggestions. I did adopt many of the different things to use in my interview and it seemed to go down well.


Off for celebrations now! :o

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I can nearly imagine the mummy, Daddy and baby bear voices. :o


What a great Christmas break you will have, enjoy every minute, January is going to be a bit busier than usual. :(


Best wishes for your new job, again, well done.



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