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Special Education Teacher interview questions and answers

A Special Education Teacher works with children with physical, emotional, mental, and learning disabilities. Special Ed Teachers help students achieve important learning milestones by using various teaching methods tailored to the specific needs of each student.

Alexandra Marinaki
Alexandra Marinaki

Alexandra is a psychologist with a MSc in Talent Development and Creativity.

Interviewing for a special education teacher position requires careful preparation and understanding of the unique skills and experiences required for this role.

Use this sample with commonly asked interview questions for Special Education Teachers to find the best hire for this role. 

15 good special education teacher interview questions:

  1. Describe a lesson plan that you put together and implemented recently. Was it successful and how?
  2. Which teaching strategies do you prefer and why?
  3. What is your experience with Individualized Education Plans?
  4. What would you do to integrate a student with learning disabilities in the classroom?
  5. What methods do you use to maintain discipline in your classroom?
  6. Describe a time you encountered a major challenge at work, and what you did to overcome that.
  7. Tell us about how you include parents and support staff in the educational process.
  8. Describe the most difficult student you’ve ever worked with and why. How did you work with them to succeed?
  9. What do you enjoy most about teaching?
  10. Why did you choose to work with students with disabilities?
  11. [Suggested by real hiring managers] What age group do you have experience working with?
  12. [Suggested by real hiring managers] What is your go to technique to calm a child down?
  13. [Suggested by real hiring managers] Do you have experience working with high functioning or low functioning autistic children?
  14. [Suggested by real hiring managers] How would you describe your experience with autistic children?
  15. [Suggested by real hiring managers] Can you describe how you would deal with an autisitic child having a tantrum and/or maladaptive behavior?

1. Describe a lesson plan that you put together and implemented recently. Was it successful and how?

This question assesses the candidate’s ability to design and execute effective lesson plans tailored to the needs of special education students.

Sample answer:

“I recently designed a lesson plan focused on improving social skills. We used role-playing activities to simulate real-life social situations. The students responded positively, and I noticed significant improvements in their interactions.”

2. Which teaching strategies do you prefer and why?

This question helps understand the teaching methods the candidate is comfortable with and how they adapt to the needs of special education students.

Sample answer:

“I prefer a mix of hands-on activities and direct instruction. Hands-on activities allow students to learn by doing, while direct instruction ensures they understand the concepts being taught.”

3. What is your experience with Individualized Education Plans?

This question probes the candidate’s familiarity with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), a crucial aspect of special education teaching.

Sample answer:

“I have extensive experience developing and implementing IEPs. I believe they are essential for addressing each student’s unique learning needs and ensuring their success.”

4. What would you do to integrate a student with learning disabilities in the classroom?

This question gauges the candidate’s ability to foster an inclusive learning environment.

Sample answer:

“I would ensure the student’s needs are met through accommodations and modifications. I would also educate the other students about learning disabilities to promote understanding and acceptance.”

5. What methods do you use to maintain discipline in your classroom?

This question explores the candidate’s classroom management skills.

Sample answer:

“I use positive reinforcement and clear, consistent rules. I also believe in teaching students self-discipline skills, such as self-control and responsibility.”

6. Describe a time you encountered a major challenge at work, and what you did to overcome that.

This question assesses the candidate’s problem-solving skills and resilience.

Sample answer:

“I once had a student who was very disruptive. I worked closely with the student, their parents, and school counselors to develop a behavior plan, which significantly improved the student’s behavior.”

7. Tell us about how you include parents and support staff in the educational process.

This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to collaborate with others in the educational process.

Sample answer:

“I believe in regular communication with parents and support staff. I also involve them in IEP meetings and seek their input on the student’s progress and needs.”

8. Describe the most difficult student you’ve ever worked with and why. How did you work with them to succeed?

This question tests the candidate’s patience, resilience, and problem-solving skills.

Sample answer:

“I worked with a student who had severe behavioral issues. I collaborated with the school psychologist and the student’s parents to develop a behavior intervention plan. With patience and consistency, the student’s behavior improved over time.”

9. What do you enjoy most about teaching?

This question helps identify the candidate’s passion for teaching.

Sample answer:

“I enjoy seeing the progress my students make. It’s rewarding to know that I’m making a difference in their lives.”

10. Why did you choose to work with students with disabilities?

This question reveals the candidate’s motivation for choosing this career path.

Sample answer:

“I chose to work with students with disabilities because I believe in their potential. I find it rewarding to help them overcome challenges and achieve their goals.”

11. What age group do you have experience working with?

This question seeks to understand the candidate’s experience and comfort level with specific age groups in the context of special education.

Sample answer:

“I have extensive experience working with diverse age groups in special education. My background includes teaching and supporting students ranging from early childhood to adolescence. This broad experience has equipped me with a comprehensive understanding of the developmental needs and educational strategies tailored to different age ranges.”

12. What is your go-to technique to calm a child down?

This question aims to assess the candidate’s ability to manage and de-escalate challenging behaviors in students.

Sample answer:

“My go-to technique for calming a child down involves implementing a combination of sensory tools, personalized coping strategies, and maintaining a calm and supportive demeanor. I prioritize creating a safe and understanding environment for the student, utilizing techniques that are tailored to their individual needs and preferences.”

13. Do you have experience working with high-functioning or low-functioning autistic children?

This question addresses the candidate’s familiarity with different points on the autism spectrum and their ability to adapt teaching methods accordingly.

Sample answer:

“Yes, I have extensive experience working with both high-functioning and low-functioning autistic children. I recognize the importance of individualized approaches and differentiated instruction to meet the unique needs of each student. My experience includes implementing evidence-based practices to support students across the autism spectrum.”

14. How would you describe your experience with autistic children?

This question encourages the candidate to provide an overview of their overall experience and approach when working with students with autism.

Sample answer:

“I have a comprehensive background in working with autistic children, encompassing a range of abilities and challenges. My approach involves fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment, implementing evidence-based interventions, and collaborating closely with parents, therapists, and support staff to ensure the holistic development of each child.”

15. Can you describe how you would deal with an autistic child having a tantrum and/or maladaptive behavior?

This question assesses the candidate’s ability to handle challenging behaviors commonly associated with autism and implement effective intervention strategies.

Sample answer:

“In the event of an autistic child experiencing a tantrum or displaying maladaptive behavior, my first priority is to ensure their safety and well-being. I would employ de-escalation techniques, such as providing a quiet space, using calming sensory tools, and employing effective communication strategies. Additionally, I believe in proactive behavior support plans to address triggers and prevent such situations when possible, fostering a positive and structured learning environment.”



In general, the best candidate for this position will hold a degree in Special Education and will have relevant work experience. Also, it’s an advantage if the candidate can present a sample of previous lesson plans they have developed to demonstrate their teaching methods.

The job interview is the perfect opportunity to search for qualities that are not easily found on resumes. For example, you can test for skills such as conflict management and effective communication which are important when dealing with classroom crises and emergencies. The right candidate will also have a positive personality and will be an advocate of issues such as equality, diversity, and inclusion in schools.

Let’s summarize some of the questions and add a few more divided into specific types.

Operational and Situational questions

  • Describe a lesson plan that you put together and implemented recently. Was it successful and how?
  • Which teaching strategies do you prefer and why?
  • What is your experience with Individualized Education Plans?
  • What would you do to integrate a student with learning disabilities in the classroom?
  • What methods do you use to maintain discipline in your classroom?
  • Describe a time you encountered a major challenge at work, and what you did to overcome that.
  • Tell us about how you include parents and support staff in the educational process.
  • Describe the most difficult student you’ve ever worked with and why. How did you work with them to succeed?

Role-specific questions

  • What do you enjoy most about teaching?
  • Why did you choose to work with students with disabilities?
  • What do you hope to contribute to the special education field?
  • What’s the biggest challenge/reward in working with students who require special education?
  • Why do you want to work in our school?

Behavioral questions

  • How would you build or maintain a positive relationship with a frustrated or angry parent?
  • Imagine you have a student with a moderate mental disability. You notice they’re being bullied by a classmate because of their condition, but they can’t defend themselves. What do you do?

More resources:

 

You can download a PDF of the special education interview questions below.

Frequently asked questions

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