Special Needs Job Guide: How to Handle Interviews for Special Needs Care Jobs
In Part 3 of our "Caregiver's Guide to Special Needs Care Jobs," we outline all the things you'll need to prepare for ahead of your interview.
The next step in finding a special needs child care job is to prepare for an interview. Don't be intimidated, as the interview offers you a way to learn about the job environment and demands, and to assess whether or not the position would be a good fit for you. At the same time, the interview offers your prospective employer a way to determine whether or not your skills and character are right for the job.
The parents of a child with special needs will want to take particular care to find someone they feel comfortable with, and you as the caregiver will need to feel comfortable with the job.
Here are some aspects of the job to assess during the interview:
- Will you enjoy working with the child?
- Can you establish a good rapport with the family?
- Can you work well with your supervisor?
- Are you clear about what your responsibilities will be?
- Are you comfortable with these responsibilities?
- Does anything about the job make you uncomfortable?
- Will you be able to reach a parent with questions or concerns as they arise?
- Can you perform the responsibilities with competence?
- Can you keep the child safe?
- What will a typical day on your job encompass?
- How often do emergencies occur? If one does, what will be expected of you?
- Will your employer want you to remain in the background or to become a more integral part of their family?
- How often and how much will you be paid?
Here are some concerns the family will have, all of which you should be prepared to address during the interview:
- Are you a responsible person?
- Will their child be safe with you?
- Will their child like you?
- Can you handle their child's psychological needs and expectations?
- Are you competent and careful?
- Do you have a track record of fulfilling your responsibilities and meeting expectations?
- What specific services do you offer?
- What services do you not offer?
- Will you adhere to special food restrictions and concerns?
- Are you strong enough to handle the child physically?
- Will you be diligent about respecting the child's medical needs?
- Will your previous employers give you a very positive recommendation?
In addition, families of kids with special needs will be especially sensitive to your attitude toward their child and to them, and will want to know:
- Will you see their child as a unique and lovable person and not just a symptom?
- Will you develop a nurturing and engaging relationship with their child?
- Will you enjoy working with their child and be enthusiastic about what he has to offer?
- Will you try to discover their child's hidden treasures?
- Are you interested in learning what activities their child prefers?
- Will you be sensitive about easing their child's transition to you as a caregiver?
- Will you focus on their child's abilities, as opposed to disabilities?
- Will you be respectful of the family's choices on how to deal with their special needs situation?
- Will you adhere to the family's routines?
After the interview, you will probably need some time to think about it. Make notes on what you liked and didn't like about the job situation. Then see how you feel about it in a day or two.
Taking a job caring for any child is a huge responsibility, but it is even more so when the child has special needs. Make sure you are comfortable with the child, the family, and the specific responsibilities you will have.
If you are offered and then accept a position, you will want to set up a communication schedule that will enable you and your employer to air concerns before they escalate, leading to both job satisfaction and success.
Ronnie Friedland has co-edited three books on parenting and interfaith family life.