Our main goal in education should be to offer each and every child an opportunity to study and to progress, regardless of their abilities, and special needs. Intervention specialists play a key role in the process. They work with parents and teachers, trying to design and implement a fitting individualized learning plan for each child with special needs.
We can even call them “Case Managers”, because while they neither teach, nor spend time with the children back at their homes, they sort of supervise the “case” of each child, making sure all involved parties (parents, guardians, teachers, counselors) act in the best interest of the child, and will intervene when something goes wrong.
It is an important and rewarding position, and I want to thank you for making this career choice. Because we will have only more children with special needs in the classes every year (any other scenario would be a huge surprise, considering extremely poor mainstream diet and ever-worsening quality of environment in the entire Western world, not to speak about other factors that impact the prevalence of behavioral and developmental disorders in children). We need your help. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face while interviewing for this job.
Why do you want to work as an intervention specialist?
You should focus on two core areas in your answer. First one is the value you see in this type of work, the meaningful purpose. You are aware of the situation at school, and that each year more children need special assistance, and individualized learning plans. You also know that many families are broken, and children often live in undesirable conditions. And while it isn’t your job to solve all these problems and “save the world”, you want to play your part on at least giving these children a chance to study and one day finish the school, and pursue higher education. It motivates you a lot, and that’s why you decided to pursue career of an intervention specialist.
Second area are your skills and more importantly personality traits that make from you a good fit for the job. You can say that you excel in planning and organizing, and in conflict resolution. What’s more, you are patient, have excellent listening skills and communication skills in general, and you do not struggle emotionally when witnessing inequality or unfair treatment. And you enjoy working with children, and thrive in the school environment. Summing it up, considering what you know, have, and who you are, job of an intervention specialist seems like a perfect choice.
Do you have a sub-specialty, or do you want to specialize in the future, for example in autism spectrum disorders?
We know many types of special needs, and specializing in one area will definitely help you do your job better. Simply because you will work with children in similar condition, learn certain patterns of behavior, and how to address certain challenges such children face in their education.
Hence it is definitely a good idea saying that you want to specialize in something in the future. You can pick an area and explain why you picked it. Maybe you have someone with autism in your family, or someone with an impaired vision, and personal experience motivated you to pursue the particular sub-specialty.
Another idea is saying that you do not know yet, that you are still new to the field. You prefer to work with children with a variety of disorders first, and perhaps learn your strengths and weaknesses, and eventually decide whether you want to specialize in a particular field of intervention. One way or another, you should have a positive outlook of the future, and look forward to your work.
How do you imagine a typical day in your work of an Intervention Specialist here?
This really depends on your place of work, and a “typical day” may not even exist in the job. Hence I suggest you to focus mostly on proactive approach to your work. That means actively reaching out to parents of special needs students and their teachers, spending time in the classes, supervising the activities of the children, evaluating the effectiveness of the individualized learning plans you designed in cooperation with other involved parties, and so on, and so forth. Of course, how much time you devote to each of these duties (and others) depends also on the season.
You should also give some importance to administrative work. First and foremost, it is required by the regulations and authorities. And secondly, it helps a lot to track progress of each child and maintain record of their behavior. Because you will typically work with many children, and it is a hundred times easier to look up something in a well-organized file for each child, than trying to find some information in the depth of your memory…
How do you feel about working outside of standard working hours at times, for example when meeting parents of the children?
People are busy, they often have two jobs, and you can only dream of meeting parents at 10am, for example, in the school. You will have to travel, you will have to meet them in the afternoon or even in the evenings sometimes. And you should show your willingness to sacrifice something for this job. But I suggest you to be realistic in your answer. What does it mean?
You can say that nobody likes to work in the afternoons, or even in the evenings. Because intervention specialists also have their life outside of work, their families and hobbies. At the same time, however, you see the meaningful purpose in your work, and understand that in some cases, it won’t be possible to meet the parents (or anyone else involved in the education of a child with special needs) during your standard working hours. In such a case you won’t hesitate to meet them in the afternoon, or even in the evening. Because these meetings are extremely important for the results of your work.
How do you approach individualized learning planing for the children you work with?
The keyword to remember with this question is individual approach. Ensure the interviewing committee that you won’t just blindly categorize the children, according to their diagnosis. On the contrary, you will spend enough time assessing the individual situation of each child. It includes their learning abilities, family situation, severity of their diagnosis, their character, and other things that have some impact on their education.
Only when you really know the child, and all things that have an impact on them, will you proceed with creating individualized learning plan, in cooperation with other professionals, such as special ed teachers. You can also emphasize the importance of proactive approach and supervision. Evaluating the progress of the child on a regular basis, you can intervene when necessary, making changes to the plan.
Other questions you may face in your intervention specialist job interview
- Where do you see yourself in five years time?
- In your opinion, what role does paperwork play in a job of an intervention specialist?
- Is there any particular diagnosis you’d not prefer to work with?
- Tell us about a time when you failed in your work with a child with special needs.
- If we hire you for this job, what goals will you set for yourself for the first year in the office?
- What are your expectations on the parents and teachers you will work with?
- Why do you want to work for our school district?
- In your opinion, what can we change in our educational system to improve the situation of children with special needs?
- How would you deal with a student who is constantly disruptive or defiant?
- What are your salary expectations?
Interview for a job of an intervention specialist belongs to interviews with an average difficulty. You may face some tricky questions about your job, and the challenges you may experience while working with the parents and the teachers. And you can be almost sure that at least one member of the interviewing panel will have a lot of experience with special education, and an ability to evaluate your interview answers.
On the other hand, intervention specialist is a specialty job. Not many people pursue the career, and you won’t compete with five or ten other people for the job, as you’d while applying for many other jobs in education, or outside of it. It obviously makes your situation much easier. As long as you do not answer their questions with silence, and demonstrate both right attitude to your work and some knowledge of the field, they will typically give you the chance in the job. I hope you will succeed and wish you best of luck!
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