17 Behavior Support Specialist Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a behavior support specialist, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Behavior support specialists work with individuals who have developmental disabilities, mental health disorders, or emotional disturbances. They help these individuals to live as independently as possible by teaching them new skills and strategies for coping with difficult behaviors.

If you’re interviewing for a behavior support specialist job, you can expect to be asked questions about your experience working with people who have behavioral challenges. You may also be asked about your understanding of different psychological disorders and how to deal with difficult behaviors.

To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve gathered some common questions and sample answers that you can use to develop your own responses.

Are you familiar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other laws that govern special education?

The interviewer may ask this question to assess your knowledge of the legal requirements that apply to special education. Your answer should demonstrate that you understand how these laws affect students with disabilities and their families, as well as the responsibilities of school staff who work in special education.

Example: “I am very familiar with IDEA and other federal laws that govern special education. I have worked in a public school district for five years, where we are required to follow all applicable state and federal regulations regarding special education. In my current role, I regularly collaborate with teachers and parents to ensure that students receive appropriate services under IDEA.”

What are the most important skills for a behavior support specialist to have?

This question can help interviewers understand what you value in your own work and how it relates to the role. When answering, consider which skills are most important for a behavior support specialist and relate them back to your own experience or background.

Example: “The most important skill for a behavior support specialist is empathy. It’s crucial that we understand our students’ perspectives and feelings so we can create plans that meet their needs. Another important skill is flexibility. Behavior specialists need to be able to adapt to changing situations and implement new strategies when needed. Finally, I think communication is an essential skill because it allows us to collaborate with other professionals and communicate effectively with parents.”

How do you handle working with clients who have challenging behaviors?

This question can help interviewers understand how you react to challenging situations and whether you have the skills to handle them. When answering this question, it can be helpful to describe a specific situation in which you helped a client with a challenging behavior and what steps you took to resolve the issue.

Example: “I find that working with clients who have challenging behaviors is one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I enjoy helping these students learn new ways to express themselves and develop their communication skills. In my last role, I worked with a student who had a very short attention span and would often get distracted during class. I started by talking with his teacher about strategies they could use to keep him focused. Then, I met with the student one-on-one to see if there was anything we could do to make him more comfortable in class.”

What is your experience working with children with autism?

This question can help the interviewer determine your experience level and how you apply that experience to other special needs children. Your answer should include a brief description of what autism is, what challenges it presents for students and how you helped those students succeed in school.

Example: “I have worked with several students on the spectrum throughout my career. I find that many of these students struggle with social skills and communication, which makes learning difficult. In my last role, I developed an individualized behavior plan for each student with autism, including specific goals and objectives. This allowed me to create more effective lesson plans and monitor progress regularly.”

Provide an example of a time when you successfully implemented a behavior management plan.

This question can help interviewers understand your ability to create and implement a plan that supports students’ needs. Use examples from your experience as a behavior support specialist, including the steps you took to develop the plan and how it helped improve student outcomes.

Example: “In my last role, I worked with a student who had significant behavioral issues in class. The student would often disrupt other students while they were working and was unable to focus on their work for long periods of time. After meeting with the student one-on-one, we developed a plan where he could take breaks during class to reduce his anxiety and refocus his attention. We also created a system where he could earn points for positive behaviors, which he could then use to buy small rewards.”

If hired, what would be your primary area of focus as a behavior support specialist?

This question helps employers understand your skill set and how you would apply it to their organization. When answering this question, consider what the school’s primary needs are and highlight any skills that could help address them.

Example: “My primary focus as a behavior support specialist is helping students with disabilities learn appropriate social behaviors. I have extensive experience working one-on-one with students who struggle with behavioral issues, so I know how to use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage good behavior while discouraging negative behavior. This skill has helped me develop effective strategies for managing student behavior in the classroom and ensuring they’re learning despite their challenges.”

What would you do if you felt like a client’s family was not supportive of the changes you were making?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle challenging situations. In your answer, try to show that you are willing to work with families and other stakeholders to find solutions that benefit the student.

Example: “I would first meet with the family in private to discuss my concerns. I would explain why I felt their child was not making progress and ask them what they think is causing this issue. If we could come to an agreement on a solution, I would implement it immediately. If we disagreed on a solution, I would offer to continue working with the family until we found something that worked for everyone.”

How well do you handle stress while working with clients?

Stress is a common problem for many professionals, and working with clients can be stressful. Employers ask this question to make sure you have the skills needed to manage stress while on the job. In your answer, explain how you handle stress in your life. Share two or three strategies that help you stay calm when things get hectic.

Example: “I find that I am most productive when I’m feeling calm. To keep my stress levels low, I practice meditation every morning before work. This helps me start my day off right and keeps me focused throughout the rest of the day. Another thing I do is take regular breaks during the day. Taking five minutes away from my desk gives me time to relax and recharge. It also allows me to check in with my clients to see if they need anything.”

Do you have any experience working with clients who have multiple disabilities?

This question can help interviewers understand your experience working with students who have more complex needs. If you don’t have any experience, you can talk about how you would approach this situation if it were to occur in the future.

Example: “I haven’t worked with a student who has multiple disabilities, but I am familiar with some of the challenges that come along with these types of situations. In my previous role, I had a student who was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. To support him, I used strategies like positive reinforcement and social stories to help him learn new skills. These strategies helped me create an individualized plan for his education.”

When working with clients, do you prefer to work in groups or individually?

This question can help interviewers understand how you work with others and your communication skills. When answering, it can be helpful to mention a specific time when working in groups or individually helped you achieve a goal.

Example: “I prefer to work both individually and in groups depending on the task at hand. I find that working alone allows me to focus more on my client’s needs while working in groups helps me brainstorm ideas with other professionals. In my last role, I worked with a team of specialists who were all focused on different areas of development for our clients. We met once a week to discuss each student’s progress and plan ways we could support them.”

We want to improve our communication with parents. How would you go about doing this?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would implement changes to improve a school’s processes. Use your answer to highlight your communication skills and ability to collaborate with others.

Example: “I think it is important for parents to feel like they are part of their child’s education process, so I would start by creating an open forum where parents could ask questions about their child’s progress or share concerns. This way, we can address any issues before they become larger problems. I also think that having regular meetings with parents can be beneficial because it allows us to discuss our plans for helping students succeed and gives parents the opportunity to provide feedback.”

Describe your process for documenting your observations and notes.

The interviewer may ask you this question to understand how organized and detail-oriented you are. This is an important skill for a behavior specialist, as they must be able to keep detailed records of their observations and notes about students’ behaviors. When answering this question, describe your process for keeping accurate records in a timely manner.

Example: “I use a digital system that allows me to take photos of my student’s work or classroom environment and attach them to the relevant documentation. I also use the system to record any behavioral incidents or changes in the student’s moods or behaviors. In addition, I always write down my observations and thoughts on paper so I can refer back to them later.”

What makes you qualified to work with clients who have disabilities?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your background and qualifications. They want to know what experience you have working with special needs students, how long you’ve been doing it and any certifications or training you may have received. Use your answer to highlight the skills and experiences that make you a good fit for the role.

Example: “I have worked as a behavior support specialist in my current school district for five years now. I started out as a substitute teacher before being hired on full-time. In my time here, I’ve learned so much about different disabilities and how to work with students who have them. I also completed an online course through the state department of education that taught me even more strategies for supporting students with disabilities.”

Which computer programs or software have you used in the past for your job?

This question can help the interviewer determine your computer skills and how familiar you are with using certain programs. You should list any software or programs that you have used in the past for work, including those that you may not be as comfortable with but still know how to use.

Example: “In my previous role, I primarily used Microsoft Office Suite, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. I also used a behavior management program called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, or PBIS, to track student progress and implement positive reinforcement strategies. I am also very familiar with Google Drive, which I used to create documents and presentations.”

What do you think is the most important thing to remember when working with clients?

This question can help interviewers understand your values and how you approach your work. Your answer should reflect the importance of working with clients in a compassionate, empathetic way that helps them feel supported and understood.

Example: “I think it’s important to remember that each person is unique and has their own strengths and challenges. I try to treat everyone as an individual and not make assumptions about what they’re capable of or how they might react to certain situations. This allows me to be more flexible when working with my clients and gives them the opportunity to surprise me.”

How often would you like to update your skills and knowledge as a behavior support specialist?

Employers ask this question to make sure you are committed to your career and want to continue learning. They also want to know if you have any specific goals for continuing education or training. In your answer, explain that you would like to take advantage of opportunities to learn more about behavior support strategies. You can mention a few classes or seminars you might be interested in taking.

Example: “I am always looking for ways to improve my skills as a behavior support specialist. I think it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices. I would love to attend a seminar or conference every year. I would also be open to enrolling in an online course or certification program.”

There is a new treatment method that could help your clients. How would you learn more about it?

This question can help an interviewer understand your research skills and how you would apply them to the job. Use examples from your experience of researching new methods or techniques that could benefit students with behavioral challenges.

Example: “I would first look at any resources my school district has on this method, as they may have already implemented it in some way. If not, I would search for information online about the treatment method and read through several articles and studies to learn more about its effectiveness. I would also speak with teachers who work with children who might benefit from this method to get their thoughts on it.”


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