“I don’t dream of labor.” Sure, but if you’re looking for a job, it’s safe to assume you’d want to land at the best place possible. Let’s talk about some questions you should be asking when looking for a job as an RBT, BCBA, or related profession. The ABA field is full of frogs - and you may have to kiss many before you find “the one”. But maybe, these tips can help you speed up that process. Let’s go!
1. What is your onboarding and training process like?
This question will tell you the steps this company takes to prepare prospective hires for their role. Too often, therapists and even BCBAs are thrown into the ring with no warm-up, and often, no fighting gloves. Whether you’re an RBT or BCBA, poor initial training and onboarding practices can affect you. As an RBT, you may feel lost and unsure of what to do with the clients you are given. As a BCBA, you may drive yourself to burnout very quickly (among many, many other negative consequences). Most, if not all jobs, have some type of training before you’re allowed to work by yourself. Heck, I remember when I worked at a hardware store, my training took 2 weeks and multiple supervised shifts, and all I was doing was operating a cash register. Imagine the training you should be receiving to efficiently work with other people - specifically vulnerable populations.
2. What kind of ongoing support is available?
Even with companies that provide great initial training - that is not complete unless they also show the same behavior throughout (maintenance). How often will your supervisor observe you and give you feedback? Who can you go to when you need more support? Are there qualified individuals that you can go to for clinical support?
3. What efforts does the company make towards the continuing education of staff?
You want to get an idea of what kind of resource the company is willing to invest in your growth (think time and/or money). Are they willing to pay for your RBT certification course? Do they hold monthly meetings where therapists can get together and brainstorm? Do they hold CEU events, or reimburse for those kinds of events? If you notice stingy tendencies here, that may be a red flag to keep in mind.
4. What do you look for in your staff?
This question will tell you two things: Whether this company is selective about the kind of people they hire, and whether you fit that description. Yes, everyone deserves a chance to get their feet wet in the field. But some kind of selectivity is desired here. For example, you may have no experience working with children, but you’re in college getting a degree in education (one of many scenarios). Does this company value the individual’s experience, and future goals? Do those goals align with your own?
5. What is your turnover/retention rate like?
We get it - people might quit the best of jobs for personal reasons. But when a company has alarming turn over rates, that is something to consider. Sure, they may lie about this, but pay close attention to their initial reaction when you ask this question.
6. What is a typical caseload like?
You want to know what to expect! If you’re told BCBAs are usually given 15 cases, and you don’t think you can handle that, be honest with yourself. If as an RBT, you’re given 40 hours with a client, consider whether this is good practice, something that you want, and something that will lead to somewhat of a reliable income. Think, think, think.
7. What challenges does this position entail?
This will give you a better idea of your future position. Job expectations and complications vary by agency. Will you be expected to assign your own therapists to your cases? Are there any unusual expectations or challenges you may face? Challenges are normal in any job role, but you want to know as much as possible to avoid surprises or potential disappointments down the road.
8. Are there opportunities for growth?
If you know what you want, and what you want is to move up, this question is essential. If you’re a therapist, can you move up to BCBA when the time comes? If you’re a BCBA interested in more admin work, will that be available? Will there be opportunities for clinical director or supervisor positions?
9. What efforts does the company make to remain ethical?
Again, watch for their reaction. If they’re completely thrown off - red flag! You want to know what safeguards are in place to abide by our ethics code. The last thing that you need is to put your own credentials on the line for someone else’s crappy practices.
10. What would you like me to know about the job/company?
This question will hopefully reveal anything the other questions may have missed. The interviewer may tell you something else that you may have not thought of that could help you determine whether this is the right job for you. This is kind of like a “trick” to see what else do they have up their sleeves. But it could also be an opportunity to tell you something good! (let’s try to be positive!).
You don’t have to ask ALL these questions! Determine what is most important to you according to your own values and what you’re looking to gain from this workplace. While we want to know what the benefits are, how much you’ll be getting paid, and so on, don’t forget that the QUALITY of the workplace is of ultimate importance: That is what will lead to less burnout, higher job satisfaction, and professional fulfillment - something that even very nice paychecks probably won’t get you.
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