Have you dreamed about becoming a paraprofessional? Or looking for your next paraprofessional job opportunity? Brush up on your interview skills here and get a better idea of what type of questions to expect and some helpful answers to get you started. Check out our paraprofessional interview questions and answers below to get ready for your next career move!
What is a Paraprofessional?
Paraprofessionals play the vital role of supporting students in the classroom under the supervision of a teacher. They have a wide range of responsibilities, which can make it tricky to prepare for a paraprofessional interview.
Paraprofessionals provide extra support to students. They have a diverse set of skills and qualifications to enable them to take on various responsibilities.
Paraprofessional duties include, but are not limited to:
- Providing one-on-one instruction to students
- Assist teaching with classroom activities and lessons
- Encouraging students to speak up in class
- Preparing the classroom setting
- Monitoring and engaging with students in class
- Reinforcing lesson plans
- Assisting students in computer labs, libraries, and media centers
- Providing positive reinforcement to reduce classroom disruptions
- Documenting student behavior for assessments
- Helping with reports
- Providing translation services
- Assisting with feeding and toileting
Qualifications for Paraprofessionals
Most paraprofessional positions need two years of undergraduate coursework or an associate degree in education or paraprofessional, though it is not always required, and a high school diploma/GED is allowed.
Some states and districts also require an additional certification if working with special needs. Most placements require that the paraprofessionals are first aid/CPR certified.
When first entering the career field, it is a good idea to have some experience in the classroom through volunteering or tutoring if you don’t have an associate degree.
Types of Paraprofessional Interview Questions
When interviewing for paraprofessional jobs, you may be asked different kinds of interview questions.
General questions focus on helping the employer learn more about your personality and interpersonal skills. These questions may test your knowledge, but they are usually used to determine whether you’re a good fit for the philosophy and culture of the school.
Technical interview questions focus on your prior experience and how you plan to approach challenging situations on the job.
We look at some sample paraprofessional interview questions below that focus on both areas.
General Paraprofessional Interview Questions
General interview questions help the interviewer understand who you are as a person, why you’re interested in the position, and whether you would be a good fit. These questions can vary drastically, but here are a few you might be asked:
1. Q: Why do you like working as a paraprofessional?
A: I love to be in the classroom. I understand the needs and emotions students this age deal with, and I’ve always enjoyed being around kids. I’m patient with my students and love helping them get the most out of their school experience.
2. Q: How do you see your role in the classroom?
A: It depends on what the students need. I’m flexible and willing to help in any way I can, whether repeating instructions, helping students stay focused, helping them eat lunch or use the bathroom.
3. Q: What do you expect from the teacher you work with?
A: Ultimately, it’s the teacher’s classroom and I am here to help. I appreciate it when teachers keep me informed, but I understand that they have a job to do.
4. Q: What would you do if you had an issue with one of the teachers?
A: Conflicts are bound to happen in any classroom, but I think communication is important. If I had any issues, I would try to talk to the teacher first. If there was still a conflict, I would seek advice from the principal or department head, especially if I felt the issue was affecting the students.
5. Q: If you get this position, what is the first thing you’ll do to prepare?
A: When I got a class roster, I’d try to remember as many names as possible and learn as much as possible about the students I’ll be helping. I think it’s important to introduce myself to the teacher whose classroom I’ll be in and the other teachers. I want everyone to know I am eager to do my job and want to make the school the best possible place for the kids.
6. Q: What are your professional values?
A: The students are the reason we are all here, so I make my work about them. I will always do what’s right for my students and advocate for them whenever necessary.
7. Q: What is your biggest strength?
A: Patience. I pride myself on being as patient as I can with my students to give them the support they need to do their best and get the best school experience they can.
8. Q: Do you have any formal training?
A: I’ve taken a few classes in this area and I hope to pursue a degree in special education one day.
Technical Paraprofessional Interview Questions
Technical interview questions make you use critical thinking skills to explain what you would do in certain situations. Here are some examples of the kind of questions you can expect in a paraprofessional interview:
1. Q: How would you handle a student repeatedly acting out?
A: I believe in positive reinforcement and rewarding good behavior, so I would try to avoid this situation by complimenting them when they behave appropriately. If a student kept acting out, I would reinforce my expectations and be patient. Sometimes, you have to give them a little time to process the situation and then they will calm down.
2. Q: How do you motivate your students?
A: One of the best things about this job is that I often have one-on-one time with my students, which allows me to form a relationship with them. I try to reinforce and praise good behavior and set goals, so they know what I expect.
3. Q: How do you ensure you’re communicating effectively with families?
A: I generally send an email at the beginning of the school year introducing myself and giving the parents my contact information. I follow this with weekly email updates, and I try to have a phone call or a conference with parents every few weeks or more often, depending on the child’s needs.
4. Q: Give me an example of when you have applied feedback to your work.
A: I love getting respectful feedback because I always want to improve. Once, my lead teacher told me that I wasn’t speaking up enough in team meetings. I shared ideas with her privately, but I was always too nervous about sharing them with the team. Her support encouraged me to contribute my ideas, making me feel like a more valuable asset to the team.
5. Q: What strategies would you use to help a student with ADHD who is acting up in class?
A: ADHD can be different for everyone. I would try to get to know the child early on so I could more easily identify their triggers and try to avoid them. I have also found that giving them a lot of attention can help. Physical activity can also be very important for kids with ADHD, so I would ensure they have enough time to run around in gym class or recess. Sometimes, I might even ask the teacher if I could let them run around in the gym between classes.
6. Q: How would you prepare your students for a field trip?
A: Generally, I think it’s beneficial for students to know what to expect, so I would spend some time talking about how the day will go, from getting on the bus to what I expect from them in public to where and when we are going to have lunch. Sometimes, knowing what to expect can alleviate anxiety and ward off behavioral problems.
7. Q: Have you ever felt uncomfortable with a student with physical disabilities?
A: No, I try not to focus on their disabilities and instead do everything I can to help them succeed in class, academically and socially. I’ve worked with many students with special needs over the years, and if there’s ever something I feel uncomfortable with or unsure of, it has only been because I want to ensure I’m doing everything I can to support the student. I would reach out to the family for clarification if needed.
8. Q: How would you communicate with a non-verbal student?
A: I’ve found hand gestures and eye contact to be successful in the past. Pointing at things, smiling, frowning, and imitating their sounds and gestures are all ways to build a bond. Some nonverbal students are responsive to flashcards. I keep talking, too, because it helps them feel included, and you never know how much they are taking in.
Ace Your Next Paraprofessional Interview
These paraprofessional interview questions and answers can prepare you for your next interview and help you get the job! Be sure to take some time to practice the above questions and answers, so that you are comfortable and can adjust your response appropriately to their questions. You can even get a friend to ask you the questions, so you can practice in a real-life setting and get feedback on your answers.
And it is always a good idea to come up with a list of questions of your own to ask during the interview that goes beyond pay and benefits. It shows your potential employer that you are interested and engaged with finding the right job and making this your career.