When you have worked hard to develop the skills for a career in behavior analysis, beginning to interview for jobs in this field can be at once exciting and anxiety-inducing. Particularly as a recent graduate of a degree, certificate or training program, you may wonder how you should answer questions about your professional experience as well as what basic interview questions to expect. If you aren’t yet at the highest level of your career field, you might have plans to seek further education or certification that would allow you to grow along with your employer. Preparing for your interview in advance can help you perform better and secure a job.
Draw From Your Experience – Even if It’s Only Fieldwork
In the field of behavior analysis, practical application of concepts and scientific principles matters. Employers often ask job candidates in this field about their past experience, from what challenging situations they had to solve to which types of assessments they have administered and interventions they have utilized. Yet, as a new graduate, you don’t have decades of experience to draw from when responding to interview questions.
Your prospective employer is aware of your background and the requirements for the job, so your interviewer shouldn’t be surprised to find that you don’t have a breadth of professional experience. At the same time, don’t undervalue the importance of the experience you do have from completing fieldwork requirements. To acquire the Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) or Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) credential, you need supervised field experience that includes participating in activities such as performing behavior assessments and developing intervention plans – exactly the work you would do in a real, permanent behavior analyst position.
The job you are seeking now may be in a different kind of work setting or involve working with a different patient population than your previous field experience placement, but the skills you practiced while gaining that experience are versatile enough to transfer to this new role.
Practice Your Answers to Common Interview Questions
Through your studies and your field experience, you learn a lot about communicating with clients and caregivers in clinical settings and with colleagues in practice and research settings. What you might not be as comfortable with – and what you have to do during a job interview – is talking about yourself.
Although an interview is just a conversation, it’s a conversation with a purpose: to find out if the job candidate is a good match for the position and the employer, and vice versa. To make this conversation more productive and add to your confidence, you should practice answering common interview questions. Although you will be asked some questions that relate specifically to the field of behavior analysis, including your knowledge of key assessments and interventions used in the position, you should also be prepared to answer more generic interview questions. Otherwise, you may be able to recite the definitions of all of the different behavior analysis concepts flawlessly but freeze when you’re asked about your strengths or given the open-ended prompt, “Tell me about yourself.”
Naturally, you want your answers to these questions to help your prospective employer get to know you, but you also want to give answers that showcase how you will be an asset to the position. Remember, you’re not just practicing responses in the hopes of reducing the number of “ums” in your answers. You want to come up with responses that fully address the question and your abilities so that you don’t find yourself wishing you had remembered to include some crucial piece of information later.
Another common question job candidates struggle with is what interests them about the particular position or company at hand. To personalize your response to fit this role and organization, you will need to do some research into your prospective employer.
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Know Where You’re Going With Your Career
Especially if you are just now launching a new career in behavior analysis, you may not have immediate plans to move from the BCaBA credential to the BCBA credential or to get your doctorate. If your prospective employer asks about where you want to be in your career five or 10 years down the line, you can talk about the kinds of approaches you would like to develop experience using or the types of skills that you would like the opportunity to teach clients through your intervention plans.
However, if you already have ambitions of moving up in the field of behavior analysis, this question could give you the opportunity to learn how much room for growth this employer offers and what kind of support you might encounter. If you’re currently a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) or a BCaBA, you may be able to gain experience that will count toward your next credential while working under the supervision of your boss or a BCBA credentialed colleague or take advantage of employer tuition benefits toward earning an advanced degree.
If having room to grow at a company is important to you, you can also bring up the subject of growth potential when your interviewer offers you a chance to ask questions about the company and position. Employers will appreciate your ambition to keep furthering your knowledge in the field.