What is the benefit of using prepared interview questions?
VI and O&M itinerant positions address a broad range of students and a wide variety of settings, such as classroom, resource, content mastery, home, and community settings. Because of this and the disability-specific pedagogy, the skills required of VI professionals are expansive and require several years of teaching to develop. Seldom will an applicant walk in the door with a complete array of experiences, but a prepared interview process will help you get a better grasp of the range of skills present and identify the potential professional development needs.
- Directors will utilize input from parents, related service personnel, and existing VI professionals (in cases where you are adding a VI position to an existing pool).
- The interview questions are sample questions. There are many other questions which could and should be included in the interview process.
- When responses are included, the responses are not intended as the only possible or correct responses, but rather as a guideline for directors or others in evaluating the responses.
- Directors will consult with the VI personnel in their regional service center regarding skills needed for applicants.
- Directors will be prepared to offer amenities for the (new) position, including:
- space for an office and to store materials
- a phone line
- reimbursement for travel
- ready access to a computer
- instructional materials budget
- opportunities for inservice training (including disability-specific training).
- VI professionals will need work space on individual campuses.
- Unless applying for a specific, limited position, such as for a VI infant program, applicants are willing to work with the complete range of students with visual impairments.
- Caseload numbers and configurations reflect a district's or co-op's desire to provide quality instructional service to students with visual impairments.
- VI personnel in regional education service centers are available to provide on-the-job support for new VI teachers and O&M professionals.
How to use the interview questions?
Prior to scheduling the interview, you will want to determine the amount of experience the candidate has so that you can select the appropriate interview tool. Experientially, applicants usually fall into one of these categories:
- New graduate of a VI or O&M program with no teaching experience in any area
- Experienced teacher from another discipline (certification) with new VI or O&M certification
- VI professional with experience as an itinerant or classroom VI teacher
- VI teacher with experience from a residential setting
- O&M specialist from a residential or rehabilitation facility.
This Toolbox includes three interview tools
- Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments
- Additional Interview Questions for Experienced VI Teachers and VI Certified Teachers from Residential Settings
- Orientation and Mobility Specialists Interview Questions
Note: Interview questions and sample responses have been developed. Since this information will be used to evaluate new applicants, access is restricted. It will be distributed to directors and other administrators upon request.
VI professionals moving from a residential setting are unique in that they have a knowledge base pertaining to the compensatory skills needed by the student with a visual impairment, but typically lack experience with the structure and demands of an itinerant position.
The interview questions are intended to be used as general guidelines, and are by no means finite. Furthermore, as with all interactions with people, you will be making your own decisions about how this applicant communicates, and whether or not your existing staff and parents will find this communication style amenable.
A note about the interviewing process
A common temptation for directors is to allow their concern for the limited number of VI applicants to drive their decision to hire. Remember that the very nature of any itinerant position makes it a difficult one to monitor. Therefore, the professional attributes of your future VI professional are very important. The section on Hiring Options identifies important aspects of a competent VI professional. These may be critical to the success of your VI program.
It is possible that you may want support judging the quality of the responses, and/or that you would like another set of knowledgeable "ears" to assist in evaluating the candidates and determining the level and types of professional development which will be necessary upon hiring a new VI professional. Consider inviting a VI or O&M certified professional from the education service center. You might also consider inviting the out-going VI teacher or VI staff who will be working in your district with the new position. If none of these are available, you might ask one of your related service personnel (PT, OT, Speech) to assist in the interview process, as these positions work closely with the VI teacher and O&M specialist.