Paraprofessional Interview Questions and Answers
Want to nail an interview? Get ready for it in advance! Our guide contains the most popular paraprofessional questions and examples of convincing answers.
Want to nail an interview? Get ready for it in advance! Our guide contains the most popular paraprofessional questions and examples of convincing answers.
The prefix "para" means near. Indeed, the National Education Association has proven that 91% of paraprofessionals work closely with students to provide comprehensive support in curriculum and extra-academic activities. Although they are teacher aides, this does not detract from their critical role in the educational process. Therefore, schools put forth strict requirements for each candidate. And an interview will prove whether you can satisfy them. To increase your chances, check out our list of the most common paraprofessional interview questions and our examples of successful answers.
How to Prepare for an Interview for a Paraprofessional
All jobs in the educational sector involve a great amount of responsibility for the mentoring, education, and inspiration of the younger generation, and the paraprofessional position is no exception. Therefore, be ready for a comprehensive assessment. But do not worry beforehand. Our tips will help you come to the interview fully prepared.
- Explore the school. A school is a community with values, standards, and rules. If you want to join it, you should learn them and be ready to accept them. Visit the school’s website, gather information about it in reliable digital or print sources, or look for insider reviews and opinions in your networking. An informed candidate always gains extra points in the selection process.
- Learn the features of the post. A paraprofessional or paraeducator is a multifaceted specialist. Your role may include both administrative duties and assistance to students with special education. Therefore, your task is to reread the vacancy and understand what exactly the employer expects of you. Write down the required qualifications, skills, and personal qualities and keep them in mind when answering interview questions for
- Make a self-examination. Undoubtedly, your knowledge and skills matter. However, your motivation and drive play a critical role when it comes to working with students. First, children recognize falsehoods and insincerity better than adults. If you perceive your job as a routine rather than a vocation, you probably won’t be able to give children what they expect. Second, this work is full of difficulties and stresses, so it requires your total involvement. To cope with it and avoid professional burnout, you must love what you do.
- Make a trial run. You can study all the paraprofessional job interview questions and memorize all your answers, but your success depends on your delivery. Ask a friend or relative to play the role of a recruiter and conduct a test interview. Practice your speech, behavior, and body language. Make your rehearsals as realistic as possible, mark your blunders, and eradicate them with each new attempt. This will help you to avoid a lot of mistakes during the real interview.
The Most Common Mistakes Candidates Make
An interview is the most challenging stage of the selection process because you need to prove your advantage over dozens of worthy candidates. And therefore, every detail matters. We have selected the top 3 interview mistakes that can lower your chances even despite an impeccable professional background.
Complaints and negative attitude
Never complain about your previous employer, colleagues, or work environment, and even less so about students. First, it contradicts business etiquette. Second, it lowers the credit of trust. If you can easily reveal all the past organization's weaknesses now, what will prevent you from putting the new employer in a bad light in the future? Third, complaints prove that you tend to shift the responsibility to others. It discourages productive collaboration with teachers and students.
Lack of questions to the recruiter
Some candidates prefer only to answer questions and not ask any. But this tactic can play a dirty trick on you. At the least, you will discredit your genuine interest in the position and organization. At most, you run the risk of getting a job that does not even meet your basic needs and expectations. Therefore, prepare a list of questions that will help you keep a constructive conversation and make the right choice.
Lies or bragging
Sometimes candidates strive to impress the employer and prove their professional aptitude through far-fetched or embellished achievements. But they forget that employers check all the information about a potential employee, especially when it comes to future work with children. Any lie can undermine your professional reputation. It will deprive you of the desired position and complicate further job searches among other schools in the district.
Often, the cause of lies is self-doubt. It makes you think that your real strengths are of no value to the employer. But this is not so.
Questions Asked in a Job Interview for a Paraprofessional
A comprehensive assessment involves three types of questions. General questions focus on your career choice, understanding of the position and responsibilities, professional identity, and so on. Behavioral issues demonstrate how you dealt with a particular situation in the past. Situational ones help to understand what you will do in the given circumstances in the future. Our sample paraprofessional interview questions and answers will prepare you for each type above and help you prove yourself as the right person.
- How do you define your role in the educational process?
Prove that you understand the value and responsibility of your role.
“I can define my role in one word - ‘Help’. I help teachers create and maintain a healthy educational environment and a supportive classroom atmosphere. Students can count on my assistance in mastering the academic program, adapting to the social environment, and performing any daily duties and procedures necessary for a comfortable stay in an educational institution.”
- Describe the perfect paraprofessional from your point of view.
Refer to the vacancy and name a couple of required characteristics. It will prove to the employer that you are on the same page.
“First of all, this is a person with developed empathy. They understand the difficulties that students have to face, their emotions, and their fears. Second, the paraprofessional has exceptional patience. They do not condemn children for their mistakes but help to understand and avoid them in the future. And finally, this specialist has innovative thinking that helps them improve the student experience.”
- Why did you decide to become a paraeducator?
Remember your self-examination and prove that the chosen profession is your true vocation.
“School is a critical stage in a person’s life. Here, the child not only receives basic knowledge but also forms their personality. And I sincerely want to contribute to this process and give them a ticket to adulthood. Sometimes teachers cannot pay due attention to all students because of the heavy workload. I plan to fill this gap and allow each student to feel their strength and value. Together, we will realize the noble idea of the No Child Left Behind act.”
- Do you think your educational level corresponds to the chosen position?
In most cases, the paraprofessional position implies a high school diploma or associate degree. But make it clear that you are focused on professional development.
“I am a certified paraprofessional with an associate degree in early childhood education. It allows me to provide qualified assistance to teachers at preschool educational establishments. However, my work also involves helping students with special needs. To update my knowledge and expand my competencies, I plan to get a bachelor's degree in special education.”
- Does salary affect your job choice?
The employer does not expect that you will work for free. However, they want to make sure that income is not your main/only criterion.
“The paraprofessional position allows me to apply my best personal qualities and reach my potential. It is much more valuable than the numbers in my account. Yes, I have certain financial expectations, but I will never put them above my vocation.”
- Have you ever dealt with special needs students?
Focus on a particular case that demonstrates your contribution and professional skills.
“Yes. I have been working with children with speech disorders for the past two years. These students are shy about speaking, which causes problems with socialization and learning. I emphasized extracurricular reading. We chose exciting books together and read them aloud. These were individual lessons, and the children focused on reading rather than the reactions of their classmates. Thanks to this practice, they heard their speech daily and accepted it. It significantly reduced embarrassment and increased their activity in the classroom.”
- What responsibilities do you plan to fulfill in addition to interacting with students?
This is a typical test of your understanding of the post. Refer to your experience and remember the job description.
“I plan to take on administrative duties to simplify the task of the teacher. In particular, I can search for materials on a given topic, prepare presentations, keep the grade book, and compile reports.”
- What are the limitations of your role compared to teachers?
A clear understanding of your authority contributes to a competent allocation of responsibilities and productive collaboration.
“I can not teach, develop a curriculum, or create general lesson plans and individual educational plans for special needs students. But I can still provide insider information and recommendations necessary for decision making.”
- Given the limitations of your role, do you think that the teacher plays a more critical role in the educational process?
This is a trick question. Do not belittle anyone's professional value. Instead, show your collaboration skills.
“I think competitions and comparisons do not create a favorable working atmosphere. Each specialist has individual functions and unique value, and therefore the achievement of any goals is possible only through joint efforts.”
- What do you think is the main difficulty of your role?
Be honest with your employer and remember to mention how you deal with this difficulty.
“Sometimes, it is difficult to fully comply with special education programs for students with disabilities. For example, they must learn to operate flatware for a specified period. But they do not succeed. I know that they are waiting for my help, and I really want to simplify their task. But I understand that this is a challenge that they must pass. Therefore, I still try not to intervene and allow them to achieve their small victory.”
- Why do you want to join our professional team?
Apply your knowledge of the school, its community, and its values.
“St. Patrick's School opens its doors to students of different cultures and backgrounds. I believe that this is an excellent place to provide quality education to all social groups and achieve equality in our country.”
- Why did you choose the elementary school?
Prove that you understand the difficulties of students in 1-6 grades and tell how you can help them.
“Elementary school students are at the beginning of their journey. They must adapt to new rules and establish their first contacts with peers. This is a stressful experience for any child, not to mention a student with special needs. I can become the first person who they can trust in this strange environment. It will empower them and make the adaptation process smooth and seamless.”
- How can you be helpful in secondary school?
Explain how you can improve the experience of students and teachers in 6-12 grades.
“The secondary school involves a sophisticated academic program. Many adolescents have difficulty with a particular discipline. It can discourage interest in learning and cause them to doubt their abilities. I can help them deal with complex subjects through individual lessons and unlock their potential through extracurricular activities.”
- What is the importance of an individual education plan?
This question reveals your competencies in working with students with individual needs.
“An individual education plan allows me to understand the child's background, needs, abilities, and academic goals. Based on this information, the teacher and I select training strategies, provide a comfortable environment, and monitor student progress. As a result, the child socializes and adapts to the learning process at their own pace.”
- What does confidentiality compliance mean to you?
The employer must be sure that information about the teachers, students, and their families will stay within the school.
“Confidentiality compliance is one of the basic principles of my work. I never bring up the personal information of my colleagues and students for discussion, as it contradicts ethical norms and breaks human rights.”
- What are your expectations about the teacher with whom you will have to work closely?
Do not list specific characteristics. Make it clear that you can work together with any teacher who knows their stuff.
“As a qualified paraprofessional, I can find common ground with any specialist, regardless of their skills and work style. If a teacher loves children and bends every effort for their comfort, safety, and well-being, I see no obstacles to our productive and long-term cooperation.”
- Did you have any misunderstandings or conflicts with teachers? Tell us about them.
Any conflicts between you and the teacher negatively affect the students. Prove that you can resolve them.
“It was a misunderstanding. There was a stuttering student in our class. Public speaking was a challenge for her. The teacher did not want to stress the child, and therefore listened and evaluated her reports during extracurricular time. I did not approve of this practice. First, the student wanted to read her papers out loud on an equal footing with her classmates. Second, the experience of public speaking would help her overcome some of her fears. I convinced the teacher to give her a shot in the next lesson. Yes, it took a long time. The child was nervous at first. But classmates did not ridicule her because her topic was really entertaining. It inspired her to continue her speech correction classes. As a result, we reached a compromise and repeated this practice at least once a month.”
- How did you deal with students who regularly violated discipline?
Focus on your empathy, patience, and conflict management skills.
“I always tried to talk with the child one-on-one and find out why they had negative behavior. Often these students just wanted to catch the attention of others. Such conversations met this need. Besides this, I involved them in extracurricular activities that steer their energy on the right course.”Want to get an edge over other candidates? Prepare a cover letter! It takes no more than 8 minutes in our user-friendly builder.Get Cover Letter
- Did you feel uncomfortable with students with disabilities?
Students with disabilities need your support like no other. If you feel awkward or uncomfortable with them, this will complicate their experience.
“No, I try not to focus on their physical disabilities. I perceive them as ordinary students who need to go the extra mile and put more effort into learning and socialization. And I respect their zeal and perseverance.”
- How did you help children with special needs fit into the team?
Such students often have difficulty communicating with peers. Prove to your employer that you do not allow them to be outsiders.
“I help the children identify and focus on their strengths and put their unique skills into practice through the academic program and extracurricular activities. Thus, they see their progress, enjoy their achievements, and make contact with peers more easily. They understand that classmates recognize and value their skills and do not avoid communication.”
- Share the method or strategy that helped you improve or simplify the educational process.
Mention only tried-and-true methods that have already borne fruit in practice. “I implemented the flipped class method. Pupils master the theoretical material at home and perform all the practical exercises in the classroom under the supervision of a teacher. It increased students' activity and involvement, simplified the absorption of knowledge, and increased overall performance.”
- How will you establish contact with a teacher who prefers to keep the upper hand?
Show that you can find an individual approach not only to students but also to teachers.
“This type of teacher does not like someone who contradicts them. Therefore, I’m not going to argue. Instead, I will offer an alternative point of view and describe its advantages in the proposed circumstances. Thanks to this tactic, I can promote my ideas, but the final word rests with them.”
- How will you increase parental involvement?
The participation of parents in education helps to achieve better academic performance and ensures the full implementation of an IEP for children with special needs. Therefore, think of at least a couple of cooperation options in advance.
“I plan to organize open school days for parents. They will be able to attend class and evaluate their child’s social environment. Also, I will hold weekly meetings with parents of children with disabilities. It will help ensure the coherence of our actions and track the overall progress of the student.”
- What will you do if the teacher scolds the child undeservedly?
You are the link between the teacher and the students, and you must take into account the interests of both parties.
“I will not undermine the authority of the teacher. Therefore, I will choose a convenient moment for a face-to-face conversation, provide my point of view, and listen to their arguments. After that, I will talk with the student and try to explain the situation. Together we will decide how to avoid it in the future.”
- What will you do if a child gets hurt in the gym or the playground?
Prove to the employer that such unscheduled situations cannot unsettle you.
“First, I would make sure that the injury is not severe, and the child can move independently. Then I would ask another assistant or teacher to look after my class and take the child to the school’s first-aid post.”
- If you get the position, what will be your first steps in the new environment?
Assure the employer that even your first days at school will be productive.
“My first day will begin with active communication. I will meet with students, introduce myself to colleagues, and establish contact with the teacher I have to work with. I will also study the IEP of children with special needs and attend a lesson in my class.”
An interview is your main chance to prove your professional aptitude. Therefore, you must always think of the right words to make a favorable impression. It's normal. But do not try to guess the thoughts of the employer. An interview is not a school test, and many questions do not have a single correct answer. It means that the employer wants to hear your reasoning and understand your vision without getting a set of memorized phrases and cliche. Therefore, trust your experience, knowledge, and inner voice. Remember, if the profession is your vocation, you will know the right answer even without additional hints.