Monday, August 26, 2013

SLP 101: Interviewing

I've been chatting on Facebook and Instagram with so many of you getting ready to start your Clinical Fellowship in different settings. It's a little overwhelming to get started sometimes! The good news is that we've all felt like that at some point! I'm obviously NOT a CF this year, but I am starting a new job. With that in mind, I'm having to ask all those questions you ask when you're new. Many of the skills I'm going to highlight in my SLP 101 series are pertinent to the first job or a new job. They become familiar once you're settled in a job.

SLP 101 is a series to help you get started if you're new to the field or new to a position as a speech language pathologist in the schools.

Up first, I want to give you some ideas and tips for interviewing to be a speech language pathologist. You might be a stellar clinician but that won't matter if you can't land your dream job!

Many of these thoughts and ideas come from our :::SLP CHAT::: held several times a week on the SRN facebook page. Of course I work primarily in a school, so my POV is school based. Feel free to add any comments that apply to hospitals or clinics.

Locating Job Openings:

  • State education departments (ie: Ohio Department of Education)
  • State SLP organizations
  • ASHA
  • Contract Companies 
  • Advance
  • School district websites (this tends to be the best in my own area, schools have enough applicants and don't need to advertise outside of their own websites.)
  • Often a state is divided up into Area Education Agencies or Education Service Centers
  • Newspaper
  • Some states have a consortium where all schools post jobs 
  • Word of Mouth

Sample Interview Questions:
  • Tell me about your background and experiences. Tell me why you chose to apply for our position.
  • How do you establish relationships and maintain effective communication with parents?
  • How do you incorporate the Common Core State Standards in your treatment and paperwork?
  • How will you work with the team to determine transition goals for secondary students?
  • How do you implement RtI?
  • Talk about a difficult experience with a student exhibiting challenging behavior and what you did.
  • If I came into one of your therapy sessions, what would I see?
  • How do you plan to use technology in your therapy sessions?
  • Talk about your planning process in establishing IEP goals and what you do when a student is not meeting those goals.
  • How do you interpret standardized test scores in light of the state eligibility criteria?
  • If you received a referral from a teacher, explain what you would do.
  • What do you do in your evaluations so you can determine whether or not a student is eligible for services?
  • If a teacher doesn't follow through with your classroom recommendations what would you do?
  • How do you do therapy with a group including fluency, artic, and language since students have to be grouped by grade? How do you differentiate therapy?
  • What assessments are you familiar with? 
  • If you go wave a magic wand and change anything about IEPs, what would they be?
  • How do you define educational impact?
  • Tell about your experiences with assistive technology and alternative communication in the classroom.
  • How do you differentiate between articulation disorders and phonological disorders?
  • What assessments do you use for the early childhood population?
  • What kind of innovative treatments approaches can you offer to our early childhood population?
  • What aspects of this job will stretch your professional capabilities?
  • How do you incorporate evidence based practices into your treatment?
  • How is treating students in middle and high school different from treating those in the lower grades?
  • Tell me about a time where collaboration was important.
  • What is your experience with writing and implementation of IEPs?
  • How do you keep children engaged in sessions?
  • What is your experience working with differing populations? (ASD, severe CD, CAS)
  •  Explain your assessment plan for a student whose primary language is not English.
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What was your most challenging case?
  • What procedure would you use in order to determine a starting point for a student with articulation delays?
  • What would you say to a parent of a child who is requesting an increase in speech services or summer services but they clearly do not meet the criterion and they are asking you to tell the district their child needs it?
  • Share an example of how you've collaborated with special and general ed colleagues to provide service for a student with communication needs. 
  • How do you determine how much special education service a student should receive? 
  • How do you support students in a general education environment? 
  • What methods do you use for data collection? How do you use that data? 
  • Tell us about your experience with alternative communication systems and assistive technology. 
  • What are the key components to a successful IEP meeting?

Questions You Should Ask:
  • Questions you might want to ask in your interview
  • What are the caseload averages in the district.
  •  How do you handle caseloads that grow during the year? 
  • What would my caseload make-up look like (age, disability, etc.)
  • Do you use a weighted system (workload approach) so that students who more intense needs can be serviced effectively?
  • I know the caseload limits in my state are XX, is there any policy in district that differs from that?
  • How often do SLPs change assignments? Is there an expectations to remain in the position I first accept or do SLPs move between schools or groups? Will I be forced to switch assignments if I love what I'm doing?
  •  Besides direct assessment and intervention, what other responsibilities will I have? RtI teams? IAT teams? Building teams? etc.
  • What is the policy for new teachers/staff (i.e different orientation)? 
  • What program do you use for IEPs and will I get training on it?
  • What type of professional development opportunities are available specific to the needs of SLPs?
  • Do you offer financial incentives for maintaining CCCs?
  • I'm a Clinical Fellow, what type of supervision will you offer? Will my CF supervisor be available for more than the minimum requirements? Has he/she supervised before? Will we be located at the same building? Are they available for questions via phone/email whenever they come up?
  • What is the policy on SLP absences? (Are SLPs expected to make up therapy time for sick days, IEP meetings, etc.?) 
  • How are the minutes of service written on IEPs (minutes per week, month, quarter)? 
  • What space will be available for me to use, and is it shared with other teachers/professionals?
  • What are the guidelines for RtI in the district? For artic only? Language? Based on the SLP's discretion?
  •  For other SLPs/teachers on the panel especially: What do you like about this district/building?
  •  If I am in more than one building, do I have dedicated space there, too? 
  •  Is there any money budgeted for me for this school year if I get hired? 
  • Will I have a district iPad? Computer? 
  • Will I ever be told to see students at places other than the school buildings?
  • Does the district have litigation with any of the families of students who would be on my caseload? 
  • How will I be evaluated? How often?

If you're a CF applicant, the people interviewing you will have less evidence that you're a capable applicant. This might be the time that using a portfolio of your work is especially important. A few things I'd include in that portfolio: 
  • IEPs and ETRs or clinical reports
  • Letters of Reference
  • Examples of activities you created
  • Examples of Data Sheets
  • Copies of thank you notes from families or students
  • Examples of RtI programs
  • Examples of  visuals you've created for students or teachers
Keep in mind that employers will be looking for professionalism, client confidentiality, and quality of work. 

The market for SLPs really varies from state to state. You might have areas that really need SLPs and other areas where the market it saturated. The best advice is to use practicing SLPs you meet during practicum to learn specific details for your area. Every job I've ever gotten started from word of mouth. You can't beat those resources.

Have you interviewed lately? How did you find the opening? What questions were you asked? What questions did you ask?