Interviewing Paraprofessionals

I am lucky to work in a district where I am responsible for hiring the paraprofessionals that work in my classroom. I love that I have control over who I hire but interviewing is one of my least favorite things to do! I remember as a new teacher, I was way more nervous than the people I was interviewing! Thankfully, it's gotten easier over time and you learn the red flags to watch for. I am currently in the process of hiring for a replacement position, so I thought it might be helpful to share my interview questions with you.


A few tips when interviewing: Before we get to the questions, here are a few interviewing tips.

Be upfront and realistic. Sometimes it's a crazy job and you want to find someone who will stick it out through the tough parts. Make sure you applicants know what their job duties will consist of and how you manage the classroom. Personality clashes or disagreements can cause major problems in the classroom. I also like to make sure my applicants know that they will likely be thrown into the job on day 1. My district doesn't provide training, it's all up to the classroom teacher. There is no set aside training time- it all occurs in the classroom and sometimes it may take awhile because I can be pulled away at any moment. If your district does provide training, make sure you share that information as well. I find it almost as helpful as the actual interview questions to see how applicants react to the information that I give them about the job.

Invite another teacher to the interview.  It's always helpful to have another person listen in and discuss the applicants with you after interviewing. I always include my student teachers in interviews so they get the experience. If you don't have a student teacher, invite another SPED teacher to sit in, or even your administrator. My administrator wants nothing to do with my interviews but a lot of administrators want to be more involved.

Keep detailed notes as well as an overall "rating" for each applicant that you interview. This will help you afterwards when making a decision.  I use the app "Interview Assistant" during interviews. It stores all of my questions and I can take notes right there or record audio if I want. It also allows me to rate each interviewee at the end.

Interview Questions:
I always start an interview asking the applicant to tell me about themselves and why they are interested in the position. I ask the basic questions about their prior experience, availability, and if they are able to physically assist with students and are comfortable with toileting, feeding, etc. Here are some of my other go to questions.

  • What do you believe is the purpose of special education? You can learn a lot about how the person will fit in you classroom based on their answer to this one, speaking from prior experience!
  • Describe your understanding of your role if you were hired as a paraprofessional.
  • What strengths would you bring to our classroom?
  • Tell me about the difficulties you might face if you were hired for this position, or the difficulties you've faced when starting a new job in the past. In other words, what are your challenges when in a new position?
  • Tell me about how you would handle a student who was having an emotional outburst (i.e. screaming and crying).
  • Tell me what you would do if a student told you no when you gave him/her a direction. Then follow up with- What would you do if he/she continued to be non-compliant?
  • How do you handle disagreements with other adults in the work environment?
  • What would you do if another person (faculty member, neighbor, etc.) asked you about the students that you work with?
  • What would you do with your time if the student you were assigned to work with was absent?
  • If you were scheduled to attend a general education class with one of our students (like science or PE), what would you see as your role and how would you assist? 
I'd love to hear your favorite interview questions! Leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading!





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