If you are interviewing for jobs as an ABA therapist, expect questions about your education, credentials, and experience.
ABA therapists need to have several qualifications, depending on the position they will hold in a clinic, school, or medical practice. The term ABA therapist typically refers to either a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) or a board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA).
Both of these certified professionals have requirements for education and professional experience before they can qualify for most certification programs or the board certification exams. A specific clinic or school might have individual needs for experience or training, and these will come up in the interview.
We’ve outlined some examples of interview questions and expected answers.
Example Questions ABA Therapists Can Expect in Job Interviews
When interviewing for a position as an ABA therapist, you might be asked questions like these:
- What is your educational background?
- BCaBAs and BCBAs are expected to have undergraduate degrees, and BCBAs are expected to have at least a master’s degree. Employers will want to know about the education track a potential employee has taken. This is not necessarily to judge you based on where you went to school, but to know what degrees you pursued, how those relate to your current certification, and details about your academic achievements.
- BCBAs are also expected to have some practical experience or publication credits involving education, psychology, therapy, or a related medical practice.
- What professional experience do you have?
- Like education, professional experience says a lot about a job candidate. Many people use a combination of education and experience to qualify for their board certification exams. Therapists, nurses, teachers, and other paraprofessionals or caregivers who want to work with children on the autism spectrum have important prior experience that changes their outlook on ABA therapy.
- This history can also tell a potential employer more about how the interviewee became interested in ABA therapy. Passion for working with children and helping people overcome obstacles is important.
- What experience is most related to the specific position?
- Interviewers will want to know why you want to work with their specific business, so you might talk about a history with specific age groups, people with developmental disabilities, or people who are neurodivergent. Learning how personal work and educational experience relates to the job posting is crucial.
These questions may be answered in the job application, during the in-person interview, or both. Interviewers may ask further questions, including:
- How do you handle setbacks with your clients?
- Working with a sensitive group like children or adults on the autism spectrum means therapists will encounter high-stress days, setbacks in skills acquisition, and tough emotional experiences. Helping people overcome developmental differences is very rewarding, but it is not easy.
- Employers need to know that potential employees can regulate their own emotional reactions, maintain compassion and patience, and modify the overall ABA therapy plan to adjust any sessions as needed to continue progress.
- How do you deal with uncomfortable situations?
- Awkward or tense situations with children, adults, or parents or caregivers are inevitable. Misunderstandings happen. It is important for a potential employer to know that someone they hire can navigate these situations with grace and understanding.
- What types of reinforcement techniques have worked in your experience?
- Like understanding how an applicant’s work and educational experience fit in with their business, potential employers will want to understand how an applicant’s personal preferences for creating a treatment plan or conducting individual therapy sessions fits in with their mission or business model.
- What do you like most about your current/most recent job?
- If you left your previous position on bad terms, it is still important to find something good to say about the experience, to indicate that there was learning and growth. Employers know that there are many good reasons for seeking a new position, but they will want to know how this relates to previous experiences. This might also relate to their understanding of how you handle stress or negative situations.
- How do you handle uncomfortable or difficult situations with parents?
- It is understandable that parents are protective of their children and worried about their long-term health. If they perceive something has gone wrong in a therapy session, it is important to work directly with them, so everyone comes to an understanding. This might involve explaining the specific approach, asking for their guidance to better support their child, or offering ABA-related parent training in the event they do not yet understand the ABA therapy process.
- Do you have experience working with animals and in what setting?
- Some children with autism have pets at home, emotional support animals, or even service animals. The clinic, school, or medical center may also have therapy animals or work with programs providing therapy animals. While this is not a vital component of being an ABA therapist, animal therapies are becoming increasingly popular, so it is important to be truthful about animal experience and even allergies.
Preparing for Your ABA Therapist Job Interview
If you have just completed your certification to become a BCBA or BCaBA, your next step is looking for a job. You may have already worked in therapy or education while you became certified, or you may have focused on your education for a few years so you could dedicate yourself to helping people on the autism spectrum.
Regardless, preparing for an interview is important. Take time to prepare for every interview to ensure you perform at your best.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Behavior Analyst Certification Board.
Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA). Behavior Analyst Certification Board.