We live in a diverse world. Children from different cultures, religions, and family backgrounds often meet in the same classroom. What’s more, some of them seem to have no problems with studying, while others have special needs, and require our attention and individual approach in order to be able to progress with their education.

And that’s where Intervention Specialists come into the picture. You will look at each child individually, considering a variety of variables, such as their intellectual, mental, and social capacities. Then you will  design, execute and assess individualized programs in order to help each child to reach their full potential, or at least to progress to the next grade, if that’s possible within their capabilities.

Job of an intervention specialist is not easy, but you can definitely find a meaningful purpose in this work. You can see the impact your work has on individual lives of children, and that’s hard to beat, at least in my book. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face while interviewing for this position.

 

Why do you want to work as an Intervention Specialist?

You should tell them a short story. It starts with your career choice, when you understood the importance of special education, and found your calling. You earned your degree, and started to work at school, gaining your first experience with children with special needs.

Understanding the importance of individual approach, and proper planning in the education of each such child, as well as continuous evaluation of their progress, you eventually decided to apply for a job of an intervention specialist.

At this point of your career, you believe to have what it takes to excel in this role, and feel ready to make a positive difference in the life of the children–which is your primary motivation after all.

 

Why our school? Why not some other place?

The answer is easier if you apply internally, or within the same school district. In such a case you can say that you know the local community well, parents, teachers, administrators, psychologists, and other people you will interact with in work. Why would you start somewhere else from scratch, when you can benefit from your existing knowledge and network of connections?

If you apply in a different place, or even try to get this job right after the college (in some cases it can be possible), you should praise the school for something. Perhaps they already have a great environment in place for children with special needs, or employ plenty of paraprofessionals, special education teachers, and counselors. You see that they place a lot of value on special education, and would love to work in such an environment.

Great thing about interviews is that it is more about an interpretation of the situation that about the situation itself. Even if the opposite is the case, and they barely have any people with degree from special education onboard, and any processes in place, you can point it out as a reason of your choice. In this case you want to be the pioneer, to help them design the right processes and perhaps get a quality special education underway in their school or district…

What role do parents play in your work?

You should emphasize that parents play a huge role in your work. At the end of the day, they spend more time with their children than anyone else. Unless the two of you cooperate, unless they know how to work with their child outside of school, and trust you with your plan, it will be hard to progress with the child.

You can say that you plan to have regular monthly meetings with the parents of children you work with as an intervention specialist. Discussing everything together, and getting feedback from them, you should be able to design the best possible educational program for each child.

Teamwork is very important in this work. If they ask you about your cooperation with anyone else–counselors, paraprofessionals, etc, you should always stress the importance of cooperation of everyone involved in the education of the child.

 

What do you think is better: to provide individual services to children in the classroom setting, or directly at home?

This is a tricky question without an obvious answer. Perhaps it easier to provide assistance at home, especially if we talk about early education. At the same time, however, it is also important to be in the classroom and to interact socially with other children.

Therefor I suggest you to emphasize individual approach to each child. Carefully considering their diagnosis and special needs, and their level of mental and intellectual development, as well as the study environment in the classroom (whether it is suitable for the given child), you will decide to either provide individual services at home, or work with the child within the classroom.

Combination of the two approaches with the same child is also possible. Ensure the hiring committee that the well-being and education of the children is your main concern. You won’t opt for this or that method, just because it is more convenient for you.

 

What role does monitoring and reporting play in your work of an intervention specialist?

In order to effectively cooperate with the counselors, special ed teachers, and other professionals involved in special education, monitoring and reporting on the progress of a child is absolutely crucial. Because you may work with many children, in different places. You won’t have time to explain everything in person and in detail to each counselor or teacher. And you are also only a human being, and you may forget something…

Once you have good reports in place, however, they can simply refer to them to see what exactly you recommend with each child, what problems they may face in the classroom, etc. Ensure the interviewers that though administrative work and reporting isn’t your primary duty, you understand the importance it has in this job. And you will approach it responsibly.

 

Tell us about a time when you failed in your work with a child with special needs.

Failure belongs to this work, and you need to have realistic expectations in order to avoid burnout or crisis of motivation. In special education, your effort counts more than the final result. Because at the end of the day you never have everything under your control, and you also cannot perform miracles…

And that’s exactly what you should focus on while describing a situation when you failed to reach your goals with one of the students. Perhaps you tried your best, and also motivated the parents to work with their child. You designed an individual plan, and worked with the child, but their intellectual capacities eventually didn’t suffice, and they did not progress to the next grade.

Any failure you describe, you should ensure the interviewers about a few things:

  • That you eventually got over it, and did not dwell on your failure for too long.
  • That you learned your lesson, and the experience will surely help you to do your job even better in the future.

 

Other questions you may face while trying to get the job of an Intervention Specialist

  • What do you consider your greatest achievement so far, when we talk about special education?
  • How would you work with a child with ADHD (or other diagnosis) in a typical classroom setting?
  • What would you like to accomplish while working as an intervention specialist in this school district?
  • What would you do if the parents did not want to collaborate with you, and did not follow your instructions?
  • In your opinion, what are the challenges we face right now in education?
  • If you could change one thing about the education system in the United States, what would you change?

 

Conclusion, next steps

Intervention specialist is a specific job title, and you typically won’t compete with many other candidates for the job. It makes your situation easier.

What’s more, if you apply for the job internally, within the same district, you can benefit a lot from your reputation at school, and the work you’ve already done in special education.

But they will still ask you at least some questions that relate to your goals, motivation, working experience, and most importantly, to your attitude to various situations that can happen in this job (parents  do not want to cooperate, you struggle to achieve any progress with the child, reporting & monitoring, etc).

Do a good research about the place, and try to prepare at least a short answer to each of the questions from this article. Luck favors the prepared mind, and you should not underestimate your interview preparation, even if you apply internally…

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Glen Hughins
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