Helping children with autism reach their full potential

CEO to CEO: Interviewing BCBAs

Interviewing BCBAs

A strong pilot episode for a new television show is uniquely dynamic.  Written to capture the imagination of someone with the power to make the series a success, the pilot is designed to introduce each primary character in a snappy, winsome manner, while outlining both plot and theme for the entire series.  Watch the first episode of “Friends” and notice how poignantly the entire ten seasons are captured within twenty-three minutes.  Interviewing BCBAs ABA


Whether I am interviewing a client, parent, tech, or meeting anyone else for the first time, I want to hit the key particulars which mark the direct purpose of the meeting—job description, prerequisites, pay, time-frames, etc.—but my larger goal is to place those particulars within a larger-picture context.  I want to take off my “employer hat” and wear a “brother hat” or a “dad hat” and connect with them as someone who cares about their life and career plans.  If I can capture a sense of their dreams and passion, it might even help them to capture something of mine.

Introduction Interviewing BCBAs

To begin the interview with, say, a BCBA or prospective ABA tech, I want to set the stage with a brief introduction framing who I am, what I’m doing, and why I wanted to meet.  From there, simple questions tend to put them at ease—perhaps confirming key qualifications in their résumé, asking about their education, looking for a warm way to hear about why ABA appeals to them. Interviewing BCBAs ABA


After getting a little insight from them, I can offer more information about both the job and larger career opportunities and then move back to more open-ended questions for them.  As I listen to longer responses, I get more flavor for their purpose in life, how they articulate their goals, how clear-minded/conflicted they are, and what they do with unexpected dialogue which requires some creative thinking.  They typically reveal their higher priorities, their principles, their attitudes.  What can also tend to show up are blind-spots, distorted thinking, and fundamental biases.


If the interview indeed becomes that pilot episode of our long-term working relationship, then I want it to contain all the seeds for what that relationship might become.  Like a good television pilot, I want to open up multiple interesting questions—questions which take time to answer.  I want to leave them wanting more.


How can I awaken imagination, curiosity, and fascination over career possibilities within an entry-level tech prospect whom I’ve not met before?  I believe it’s about genuinely engaging my own imagination, curiosity, and potential career ambition on their behalf—never to put words into their mouth or make decisions for them, but to ask questions which elicit their highest sense of purpose, meaning and possibility.  Life is often substantially defined by career, and career courses are frequently determined in job interviews.  Whether we ever work together or not, an interview gives me the opportunity to speak into a person’s life when they are on the cusp of choosing a new path.  That is an honor which I hope to meet with optimism, gravity, faith, friendship, and enthusiasm.


To close the meeting, I want to confirm agreement on next steps.  Mindful that we are finishing out the “pilot episode” of our prospective future working relationship, I will also add a reference to any significant big-picture factors not yet covered.


Most importantly, upon departure I want to leave a sense of genuine certainty that I care more about them as a person than I do the business prospect.  Life is more than where we work or live, and people are worth infinitely more than what they can do for me.


David Maddox, JD
Hi-5 ABA, Inc. (an ABC Behavior affiliate)

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