06 Apr ABA Insights: 15 Questions To Ask During an RBT Interview
In the interviews I conduct, I always encourage my candidates to relax, have fun, and especially ask me questions!
Interviewing should be looked at similarly to a first date: We’re both getting to know one another and are figuring out if I’m right for you and you’re right for me. Just as you may not be the right fit for every company, not every company is going to be the right fit for you! That is why it is SO important for you to have an opportunity to ask your interviewer questions and find out if you and the company are truly a match made in heaven. The problem, however, is that it can be difficult to know what questions to ask.
To help with those first-date interview jitters, we’ve compiled 15 questions to ask your interviewer that can aid in identifying whether this company is the right fit for you.
Please note that there are probably too many questions here for you to ask during your interview and these are by no means exhaustive! We recommend picking your top 3-5 questions and going from there. If there’s extra time, go ahead and sneak in a couple more! If there are any important ones you didn’t get to, don’t be afraid to send a short follow-up email with a couple of last inquiries.
We’re so excited you got the interview… Now go knock their socks off with how awesome you are!
What do you like most about the culture here? What things would you like to see change?
Getting a first-hand perspective of a company’s culture can be incredibly helpful in ensuring this is the place for you. Learning about cultural strengths and weaknesses can give great insight into whether this is a company that would be in line with your preferences/needs and may help to highlight some areas of concern to be aware of.
What is the BCBA and RBT turnover rate like at your company? What steps are you taking to prevent and treat clinician burnout?
Burnout in the human services field is at an all-time high, and this is definitely the case within the ABA field. According to the Behavior Analyst Certification Board’s most recent report, the demand for BCBA services alone has increased by 5,852% between 2010-2021 (Behavior Analyst Certification Board, 2022). That said, clinicians are often spread thin to help to meet the demand, and that’s on top of an already challenging career. The company you’re interviewing with should be aware of their own turnover rates and actively working to not only treat burnout, but to also prevent it in the first place. Company-wide initiatives such as recognition for achievements, ensuring staff have and use PTO, and creating a culture that truly upholds a work/life balance are just a few things that should be present.
How many clients are typically in an RBT’s caseload? How many hours can I plan to work each week?
Being aware of how many clients you might work with can aid in identifying the company’s expectations for clinical staff and whether this aligns with what you’re able to accommodate. RBT schedules often vary depending upon the number of hours each client receives and can have a direct impact on how many hours you’re offered. It’s good to ensure your own hours minimum will be met and that you won’t be over capacity either.
How many clients are typically in a BCBA’s caseload?
It can be helpful to have an idea of what your BCBAs’ (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) caseloads may look like, as this can often reflect their ability to provide you adequate support and supervision. Having a BCBA who has a large caseload may mean they’re not able to support you/your cases as much, may increase the stress the BCBA is experiencing, and in some cases, may lead to high BCBA turnover rate.
What does initial training look like? What type of ongoing training do you provide?
It’s important that your employer offers you detailed and effective training as an RBT, especially if you’re new to the field. If you are not already a credentialed RBT, your company should provide the 40-hr training and assessments required to qualify you to sit for your RBT exam. Companies should also provide periodic ongoing trainings to better support your clinical and professional skillsets.
What are the earliest start and latest end times for sessions?
Depending upon your company as well as the clients you work with, sessions can often occur anywhere between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm. While this timeframe may work for some, it won’t work for all. Be sure your interviewer is aware of what your availability is and that it matches with the company’s current client needs and expectations.
Where do sessions typically take place? (e.g., home, clinic, community)
ABA sessions can occur in a variety of settings. Knowing what settings you will be working in can help give insight into what resources may be made available to you. Additionally, it can give you an idea of how much traveling between clients you may need to do (e.g., zero travel if all clients are in the clinic vs. some driving between clients’ homes).
What does the typical RBT commute look like? Is there a maximum distance (e.g., 30min) RBTs will be asked to drive? Are RBTs paid drivetime/mileage?
Be mindful of the distance, duration, and time of day you’ll be expected to travel to, from, and between-session locations. Companies will often have a maximum radius they will not ask you to commute outside of, such as no more than 15 miles or no more than 30 minutes from your home. Some companies offer drive time pay and/or mileage. This can be incredibly helpful in offsetting the cost of having to drive so much.
What is the company’s illness/session cancellation policy? If my client cancels, will I still be paid for my time?
The RBT role is a position that is most often paid hourly. Because of that, if your client doesn’t have a session, you’re often not paid. Some companies will offer cancellation pay to staff whose clients cancel within a certain timeframe (e.g., less than 24hrs notice), but this is not always the case. It’s good to know your company’s policy ahead of time to better predict what your paychecks may look like.
How are data collected (e.g., pencil/paper or electronic)? If electronic, will I be provided with the needed technology (e.g., a tablet)?
Data collection can come in many forms. Pencil/paper data collection is slowly decreasing in the field with more and more companies turning to digital data collection. Companies that use digital data collection often provide their staff with the devices needed to collect the data (e.g., phone, computer, tablet), though this is not always the case. If you will be expected to use your own personal device, be sure the company has a clear policy for what to do if your device is damaged by a client during the session.
How much/often to the BCBAs supervise their RBTs? Is supervision in person or virtual?
The Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB) requires that all RBTs have at least 5% of their direct treatment hours supervised by their BCBA. Please note that this is a minimum requirement and best practice would be to exceed 5% supervision.
What type of crisis management training is provided and how will I be trained in this? How frequently are staff re-trained to ensure protocols are implemented correctly?
When working as an RBT, you may encounter crisis situations that impede client and/or staff safety. It is absolutely crucial that you receive formal training in how to safely handle and de-escalate these situations. If your company does not offer crisis management training, ask if they will reimburse you for an outside training that you pursue yourself.
How frequently are performance reviews conducted? What does that process look like?
Performance reviews outside the regular supervision you receive from your BCBA can be incredibly helpful for you not only as a clinician but also as a professional. Being given feedback on your performance can help you to grow professionally and can open up additional opportunities for you with regard to promotions, raises, other positions, etc.
What is included in the benefits package? (e.g., paid time off, tuition assistance, health insurance)? Do I need to maintain a minimum number of hours per week to qualify for this?
Because RBT positions are often part-time, not all companies offer a benefits package. Find out not only if there is one, but what it entails as well. Some companies won’t offer RBTs healthcare coverage but will offer paid time off (PTO), so be sure you’re clear on what will be offered to you. Additionally, some companies have a minimum weekly hours requirement an RBT will need to meet in order to qualify to receive the benefits package. Be sure to find out what that minimum is as well as what happens if you lose a client and dip below that minimum.
Are employees required to sign a non-compete? If so, what are the details of that?
Some companies require staff to sign a non-compete agreement. The general requirement of a non-compete is that the staff won’t take any business from the company (e.g., work with their current clients at a new company) if they submit their resignation. The details of these agreements vary from company to company, so be sure you have a clear understanding of what all the contract entails. Some companies may even put in a service radius that you can’t work within (e.g., within 10 miles of the office) which can greatly impact where you’re able to work after you resign. Always read it in detail and ask a ton of questions before you sign!
Behavior Analyst Certification Board. (2022, February). US Employment Demand for Behavior Analysts: 2010–2021. Retrieved from https://www.bacb.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/BurningGlass2022_220208.pdf.