This can be answered briefly. It is smart to also tie in qualities that you feel you possess.
Special Education Teacher Interview Questions
What do you feel are the most important qualities in being a good Teacher?
"I believe that the most important qualities in being a good teacher are patience, genuine interest and attention to detail. The reason being is that if we are patient with our students and show that we are also engaged in their learning, they will be more driven to do the same."
"I believe that a good teacher is patient, has excellent communication skills, and has a wide range of teaching tools to draw from. I'm a very compassionate person and I do communicate well, but I do know that I have many more years to grow before I can be considered an expert. So I'm constantly learning more about pedagogical methods and reading about teaching."
"I believe the most important qualities are developing a relationship with your students. You want students to know that you care, and they are loved. Showing you care about their interests makes them feel they are important and makes them excited about school. Another quality would be advocating for students, especially in special education."Rachelle's Answer
Well said. If every teacher took this approach, school would be much warmer and welcoming for students :)Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
Why should we hire you?
This is a great opportunity to tie in your skills and comment on the connection you feel with the program/school/facility. You can finish up by asking the interviewer if they have any concerns or objections.
"When I initially saw your job posting I began to research this facility. What I found was a group of people with a genuine passion for what they do. I know I would be a great compliment to your team because my interests are strongly aligned with your mission. I also bring the education, experience and background that you are looking for. Is there any reason why you feel that I would not be a fit?"
To what specific area of special education are you most attracted and why?
Be sure to have researched the educational facility before the interview. You will want to answer this based on how your career goals, interests and abilities best align with their specific mandate.
"I am most drawn to working with students on the Autism spectrum. Finding unique ways to work with individuals with neurodevelopment disorders is an important challenge and one that I am happy to take on. One of the reasons I was so thrilled to be shortlisted for this position is because of the strong work you do with students with Autism."
What are your 2 weakest points?
How you answer this could also determine where the interviewer would like to place you within the organization, or what areas of continued education/training they may require of you in the future. Again, even though this question has the ability to create a somewhat negative tone, you can still answer it in a positive way. Show that you are making steps towards improvement as well. Interviewers do not want to hear "I care too much." or "I work too hard." They want a genuine answer.
"I care too much."
"I think that I could be a little more organized and that I can balance my work and my life better. I tend to get very focused on the day-to-day work, and I lose sight of the bigger picture. So now, at the end of the the work day, I write down a list of things that I accomplished and what I'll do the next day. That way I can focus on my personal life once I leave work, which refreshes me for the next workday."
When did you make the decision to teach autistic students?
This can be answered briefly by telling the interviewer about your first exposure working as a Special Education Teacher with autistic students.
"Working with autistic students wasn't always my area of focus. I was first exposed to it with school ABC and since then, it became my primary focus. I was passionate about it and did really well with that area of special education."
"When my younger brother was diagnosed with Autism, I became interested in learning more about what Autism was, and this sparked my interest in special education."Rachelle's Answer
You have a personal tie to being a special education teacher, which will further ensure that you will bring your best to work with you every day :)Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
How would friends describe you?
This question is best answered by using examples of compliments your friends have given you. You can keep it brief.
"My circle of friends is very close and we spend a lot of time together. I believe they would say that I am thoughtful, generous and kind. I am sure to surround myself with people who will challenge me and bring out the best in me."
"I made a lot of close friends when I went to school for education, and they'd describe me as a very kind person with a very positive outlook. I think most of us are, the ones who are drawn to teaching."
How can you illustrate to me your dependability?
This is a great time to give an example of a time you have been recognized or complimented on your dependability.
"In my current role I have had colleagues comment quite frequently that they are happy they can rely on me to be at work, complete what I say that I will, and fill in where necessary. I am a strong team player and will absolutely cover work for a colleague if asked. I also have perfect attendance in my current position."
"The parents of my students know that I'm always available to them between 7 AM and 7PM on weekdays. I'm very consistent. If they call me at that time with any questions or concerns, I pick up immediately if I'm not in class. If I can address them within 5 minutes, I do so. Otherwise, I ask them to send me an email if it's not urgent. No matter what, I'll get back to them within 2 days. I consider it my personal duty to make sure the parents feel that they can depend on me because it's hard enough to raise a child with disabilities, they need a teacher who's responsive and caring."
"Working at the daycare, I show up for work when needed and do my job. If someone is out that day, and the daycare is short on staff, I am always willing to fill in, if I'm not in class. Even though I switched to working only in the summer and Christmas break, my director knows she can depend on me to come back and help her out when needed."Rachelle's Answer
It's very nice that your director can depend on you to fill in when needed, in addition to your already busy schedule! Perfect response.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
How would you describe your passion for teaching children?
This is a good time to talk about why you do what you do and what your favourite aspects of teaching are.
"My passion for teaching children comes from the feeling of fulfillment I had when first teaching my autistic nephew how to read. Seeing his eyes light up and knowing that I was able to make a difference by spending one on one time with him was really incredible. Now I see every student in that light. This is someone's child, brother, sister, cousin. They need to be cared for and educated by people who want to be there. That would best describe my passion. It's not only what I do - it's what I need to do."
"Teaching children is my life's mission. This is not just a job to me. This is something that I need to do on a daily basis. All children are precious, but I'm particularly drawn to helping those who need it the most, and children with intellectual disabilities needs someone who cares about them and is invested in their growth and education. I don't think that most people have that capacity for patience and compassion, and I do, so I think it's my calling, a chance to do good in the world using something that I have that others don't."
"My passion for teaching came first from my brother when he was diagnosed with Autism. Seeing what he went through, I wanted to be the teacher that cared about these students. My passion for teaching also came from working at the daycare. I loved watching my student's eyes light up when they finally understood the lesson we were teaching."Rachelle's Answer
That must be an incredibly rewarding moment as a teacher. Nice description - your passion really shines through :)Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
What do you believe, makes you effective at teaching special needs students?
Talking highly about yourself can be difficult to do, but this is a question geared towards this. Answer to the best of your ability, also using an example of a time when you were recognized or rewarded for your good work as a special education teacher.
"I have always been very strong in the area of exercising patience and coming up with creative ways to work with my students who struggle the most. Just last month, I was nominated by my peers for the "
"My colleagues have always remarked that I'm so patient, kind, and compassionate. My professors have always said that I'm a very clear and effective educator. So, put that together, and I think that I'm especially well suited to special needs students because these kinds of students need someone who's able to teach them at their own pace and using different ways that reach them individually."
Have you ever had to calm a person down, what happened?
This is a good time to give an example. Be sure to talk about the outcome as well.
"I recently had a student lose complete control of his emotions during class. I was able to calm him down by talking very gently and creating strong eye contact. This particular student will have outbursts from time to time so I am well versed on how to manage that type of situation. After class, I was sure to document the incident in his file and report it to my supervisor."
"I had one student get very angry when we were going to the cafeteria to see a presentation. He refused to enter the cafeteria. So I had to figure out why he was so angry. I found out that he thought that we would be going to the auditorium, and that he was expecting to be in a dim room. So I got him a pair of little sunglasses. He watched the presentation and got along with everyone else happily."
"My brother often has Autistic meltdowns as a result of anxiety. One time, he was on the verge of having a meltdown, beginning to lose control of his emotions. I calmly talked him through it, reminding him to breathe."Rachelle's Answer
Your example does a nice job showcasing your ability to give sound advice when needed, and the interviewer will appreciate the personal touch you bring to your responses.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
What was your most difficult course in college?
This answer can be concise but it is best to give an example of a specific difficulty and what you did to overcome that difficulty.
"One of the most challenging courses for me while obtaining my degree was Statistics. Because I am more therapy and behavioural based by nature, it was difficult for me to fully embrace the factual parts of this course. I did find a tutor for that class and was able to pass it with a good grade."
Tell me about a stressful time in your life. How did you handle it?
This question is more geared to the personal side of your life. You will want to answer it honestly, still tie it in with your career, and not have a case of the "TMI's" (Too Much Information).
When did you realize you wanted to be a special education teacher?
This is a more personal question that is best answered using a specific life event.
"When I was in junior high, our class had two special needs students. I would see their aids assisting them throughout their day and it was really beautiful to see how important their role was in that student's life. I had always wanted to be a teacher but this opened my eyes to the opportunity of specializing in Special Education."
"When I volunteered as a job coach helping developmentally disabled individuals, I got a lot of satisfaction teaching my clients how to do a job that they enjoyed. I realized that I wanted to do more than that and to help more individuals at once."
How do you handle yourself under stress?
This is a great time to give an example of a time when you overcame a very stressful situation.
"A couple of months ago we had a situation where one student had a complete breakdown in class. I was able to remain calm by following our program's protocol and taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the student and everyone in the classroom. I am generally quite good under pressure and even better when I feel well equipped to manage the situation."
"When I feel my heart racing and my shoulders hunching, I know that I'm stressed and I tell myself to take a deep breath. Then, the first chance I get, I stretch my arms and legs out as far out as I can and think about a small treat that I'll let myself have once I get out of work. I picture it in my mind and smile. I take another deep breath and then I get through the rest of my day with a smile, knowing that whatever happens, I'll have that treat waiting for me."
"I take a deep breath and pause for a second when I'm dealing with stress. If I can, I walk away for a few minutes to clear my head. If I can't take a break from the situation, I just remind myself to breathe and think about the overall picture and how everything will work out in the end. I had to do this many times during college."Rachelle's Answer
It sounds like you are level headed, for sure! When it came to managing stress in college, feel free to elaborate on the situations you were in and the methods you used to cope with.Was this answer helpful? Yes or NoThank you, your vote helps us display the best answers.
If you could do anything different in your education, what would you do?
Even though this question has the ability to create a somewhat negative tone, you can still answer it in a positive way.
"When I first started my career, I wasn't as focused on a speciality and ended up spending a lot of time working with students who had more low-incidence disabilities. I wish I had been introduced to more specific work, with individuals affected by Autism, sooner in my career."
"I would've focused on special education much earlier. When I first started my education, I only knew that I wanted to teach, but I didn't know what population was most suited to me yet. Now that I know that special education is what I enjoy the most, if I could go back, I'd specialize in that from the beginning."
What makes you stand out among other applicants?
How do you feel about working with students, that can sometimes be difficult due to their circumstance?
Explain to me an IEP? What is the difference from an IEP and a CSE?
Who is your greatest role model?
What do you know about our educational program?
Do you have experience creating and maintaining documentation on your students?
How will you work cooperatively with other faculty members in educating these students?
What are your 2 greatest strengths?
What do you think you will most like about being a Special Educator?
What exposures have you had in Teaching?
Has their ever been an autistic or special needs child in your life that has inspired you?