Job interview advice


Distinguished Member
Hi guys

My wife has an interview in a couple of days for a TA job at a local college. We've looked at the role and the timings are the only thing that could be a bit of a hurdle., they are 8:50am - 2:50pm, we have three kids that need dropping off to school in the morning, the last drop off is 8:30am and then it'll be a race to get to work which is 20 mins away.

As she has this interview I was wanting to ask whether she should bring up the issue of timings then or wait until she (hopefully) gets an offer? She gets an hour unpaid lunch and I was thinking maybe she could ask to bring that down to half an hour and adjust the other half an hour top and tail of the working day.

Breakfast/After school clubs etc are not an option unfortunately as they are so blimming expensive!

She honestly wasnt expecting the interview and applied to get some experience under her belt.

Any advice appreciated




Once she has an offer in writing she’s in a far stronger position to negotiate contractual terms and not a second before.


Well-known Member
I'm sure you'll get a range of replies so I'll jump in. (I'm assuming the job spec was quiet on flexible hours.)

I think she should raise it at the interview stage. It's always good for candidates to see if an employer is open to flexible timings.

It's good to be open about what you (and can't) do in terms of time, and to be clear on this at the outset.

If an offer is made on the assumption that your wife can work those hours, and then asking for flexibility isn't an ideal start; an employer would reasonably expect it to be raised earlier.

Miss Mandy

I would discuss it during the intervieweview if an opportunity comes up. Schools and colleges are generally pretty reasonable with hours around child care, but sometimes only if they know about it in advance.

Any offers we make at my school would be based on the interview and if a candidate doesn't raise any potential issues we'd offer based on what our requirements are. We would have all our ducks in a row before offering so would be pretty annoyed if we then found out about possible issues. If things are discussed in interview we at least then know what we're working with and if that candidate is the best person for the role we can make sure they can fit into the department.


Distinguished Member
Check if they use the STAR model in their review of interview answers so give a Situation - ie what the problem or issue was, what were you Tasked to do, what Action you took and what was the Result - it’s evidence based interview questioning that demonstrates past performance to predict future performance.


Distinguished Member
I'd be annoyed is somebody brought this up after I'd made them an offer. Unless they were very strong in other areas I'd probably withdraw the offer and look elsewhere.

My opinion, for what it's worth, is to be honest upfront.


Well-known Member
I think she should mention it at the interview when they ask her if she has any questions, and do it in a way where she shows she can be flexible and isn't looking for any favours, like you said by adjusting the lunch hour.


Distinguished Member
I'd be asking abou the possibility of flexible working at the interview. I think a TA would be expected to be in before lessons start I'm afraid. How are your working arrangements? Can you ask for a bit of flexibility, if it would be fesable for you to drop them off?

Thinking about @Desmo and his comment. A girl at work got the job before she told them she was pregnant, then she asked about maternity leave during her first week. People remember stuff like that.

Miss Mandy

One other thing to mention is that while schools and colleges are usually quite flexible, shifts still need to fit in with the school day and the responsibilities of the role. Changing from an hour's lunch to a half hour might sound easy in theory, it may cause problems with lessons start times or duties so may not be an option.
Basically try and find out about how the college's day runs before the interview so that she can have a couple of different options to resolve the issue. That'll show in the interview that she's thinking of the college not just herself and will be a positive for her.


Distinguished Member
Thanks all for your replies so far. The majority fall in line with what we were thinking in that being open and honest at the interview stage and looking at practical solutions for all involved.

My timings are 8am-4pm Mon-Fri so changing them isnt an option unfortunately, I could ask but not sure how it would work, we meet as a team for our morning medical handover to discuss our patients for the day so changing that would be a ballache for all the medics and mess up the timings of the day so probably not an option.

I initially thought what @rousetafarian mentioned and suggested she go for the interview and see if she gets an offer but my wife didnt like the idea and said she would feel more comfortable bringing this up now but in a positive way providing options.

Thank you @Miss Mandy for your insight about how schools etc work something for us to think about. I think asking around any flexibility and then going from there may be a good idea, its annoying as 10 mins both ways would make all the difference!!

cheers guys any more thoughts welcome :)

Miss Mandy

The college requesting an 8:50am start suggests there's a reason for that, but it may be something that can be easily worked around.
We usually start our LSAs and TAs at 8:40am so that they're available for registration at 8:45am, but there are a couple that start at 9am because of the school run. They're then ready for the first lesson of the day at 9:05am.
All of ours have the same lunch break regardless, they have to take their hour during the school lunch hour and they do dining room duty once a week.


Distinguished Member
Presumably more affordable with another wage coming in?
unfortunately not, wifes position as TA will be part time and we will have to pay for our youngest to who is 2 to go to nursery mon-fri which is where all the missus' money will be going. When little one turns 3 we will get funded hours which will make a difference then but not now


Distinguished Member
Definitely discuss your hours at the interview. If you are offered the position and you bring it up at that point the new employer won't appreciate it. Most employers aren't going to be impressed by someone who employs cunning and guile against them. Also an interview is a two way process, the candidate should also decide whether they want to work for an employer. An employer's willingness or otherwise to accommodate your childcare needs might be a reason to accept or reject an offer.
Wouldn’t a TA have to be there aligned with when class starts etc?

My wife has to be in for 830 at her school, luckily I can be flexible with my job to sort the children. But I wouldn’t have thought it’s the kind of job where you can arrived with flexible hours like in an office environment.

Just my thought but naturally best to discuss it with the college involved as part of the interview process.


Well-known Member
As someone who's interviewed loads over the years I can only offer my viewpoint, however not from a education setting.

Unless a candidate stands out massively ahead of everyone else I'd be wary of people asking for exceptions to the rules before even getting the job. It would probably put me off tbf. I'd suggest waiting till a 2nd interview or a further discussion.

If they are keen, they are more likely to be flexible.


Depends on the interview process. Most are 2 stage interviews nowadays, with an initial chat followed by a more in-depth meeting. I wouldn't bother bringing it up at the initial chat, but if your wife is at stage 2 or there is no stage 1 then you should definitely mention it. Probably at the end when she gets to the "do you have any to ask us?" bit, after she has wowed them with all her previous answers.


Distinguished Member
Well thanks to everyone for your replies. The wife went for the interview Friday and mentioned the timings then, they seemed receptive and said they could speak about this if she was offered the job. Unfortunately she didn’t get it, lost out to someone else who had more experience but good experience anyway. Cheers all.

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