Top 25 Youth Specialist Interview Questions and Answers in 2022

It is never easy, especially when you work with children with behavioral or emotional issues. The same can be challenging and rewarding. Youth specialists assist these children in learning how to deal with problems and develop healthy life skills. Job interview for a youth specialist role may be in your near future if you are looking to pursue a promising career in this field to make a real difference in the lives of children.

To help you prepare for the same, we have compiled a list of the top 25 interview questions and answers you may be asked in a youth specialist interview. Remember, the most important thing is to be yourself and show enthusiasm for helping children.

1. Tell Us About Yourself.

My name is Aziel, and I am from Canada’s Quebec state. After enrolling in my community 101 courses in college, I discovered a passion for assisting kids. During my first position, I worked as a Content Marketing Intern at XYZ Company, where I honed my writing skills. After graduating, they offered me a full-time position as a Content Marketing Manager. I was also fortunate enough to be mentored by their Head of SEO at the time.

My friends then told me about the Youth specialist courses, and I fell in love with this field. It made me feel like I was born to do this. I started working in the area and have the same experience today.

2. Are You Comfortable Working With This Role? 

I have been in this field for several years and am confident that I can continue to do so. My first role after college was as a case manager for a nonprofit organization that assists homeless youth in finding housing and employment. One of my clients was a 17-year-old boy who had been homeless since he was 14. He was adamantly opposed to our program, but I persuaded him that we could provide him with the necessary resources to get his life back on track.

3. What Are Some Strategies You Use To Build Rapport With Young People?

I believe getting to know each child I work with personally is necessary. When I started working as a youth specialist, I noticed that many of my coworkers started walking to my office and talking to kids without first getting to know them. I realized that by spending time getting to know each child, I could better understand what they liked and how to communicate with them. I now try to spend at least five minutes talking to each new youth I meet.

4. How Can You Handle A Situation Where A Young Person Refuses To Participate In a Program You Planned For Them?

First, I might figure out why the young person refuses to participate. If it’s because of a disagreement with another youth or a staff member, I’d talk to them about their concerns and see what I could do to help. If the refusal is due to something else, such as transportation problems, I will look for solutions so they can still benefit from the program.

5. What Is Your Experience Working With Youth Who Have Special Needs?

Throughout my teaching career, I have had several students with special needs. Because one of the students I worked with was blind, I ensured he always had access to Braille materials. Another student had ADHD, so I devised a strategy for him to take his medication during school hours. Both of these students could thrive in my classroom thanks to these strategies.

6. Provide An Example Of A Time You Successfully Mediated A Conflict Between Two Young People.

I had a group of five students who were all friends at my previous job. One of them was making fun of someone else for being too scared to do anything one day. The boy he was teasing became upset and began crying. He told me he didn’t want to return to school because everyone would mock him for being upset.

I spoke with the young man who had teased his friend. I explained that it is critical to treat others with respect even when they are not present. Then I spoke with the other boy and explained why his friend was making fun of him. He felt better after our conversation and returned to school.

7. If A Young Person Is Struggling Academically, What Strategies Would You Use To Help Them Improve?

I once helped a student who was having difficulty in math class. I met with his parents to discuss what they were doing at home to help him learn, and then I designed an individualized study plan for him that included extra practice problems and tutoring sessions. Within two months of implementing these strategies, he improved his grade by one letter.

8. What Would You Do If A Young Person Was Misbehaving During One Of Your Programs?

In my previous position as a youth specialist, I worked with a group of troublemaking teenagers during programs. Once I noticed that one of the students started throwing food at another. I abruptly paused the show and asked everyone to gather around me so they could hear what I had to say. I told them we would have to end the program early if anyone else misbehaved. They all got it after that and behaved well.

9. How Well Do You Know The Local Community?

I grew up in my hometown and am very familiar with the surroundings. There are numerous excellent places to eat, shop, and enjoy entertainment in this area. A new brewery I am very excited about is opening soon. I believe it will be a fun place to visit with friends. The city has also been working to revitalize some downtown areas. I hope that these developments continue.

10. Do You Have Any Experience Fundraising?

I have never done formal fundraising, but I once assisted my youth group in selling candy bars. In just two weeks, we sold over 1,000 boxes of candy bars. It was a challenge, but we finished everything on time and had some extra candy bars left. That meant we could donate them to a food bank nearby.

11. When Working With Young People, Do You Prefer To Use More Structured Activities Or More Free-Form Activities?

When working with young people, I believe that free-form and structured activities have their place. During group discussions or team meetings, I prefer to use more free-form activities because they allow me to understand my students’ personalities and interests better. However, I like to include structured activities in these sessions so we can all learn new skills simultaneously. For example, I might teach a lesson on public speaking while drawing key points on a whiteboard.

12. We Want To Expand Our Community Outreach To At-Risk Youth. Describe a Strategy For Raising Awareness Of Our Youth Programs.

I believe that social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to raise awareness of our youth outreach programs. I’ve used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to promote events and campaigns hosted by my previous employer. These digital channels are excellent for reaching large audiences with interesting content. I would devise a strategy for disseminating information about your organization’s youth programs through these channels.

13. Mention About Your Experience Working With Youth Who Have Mental Health Issues.

I worked at a residential facility for teens with mental health issues. One of my main responsibilities was helping our patients transition back into society after completing their program. I had one patient in particular who struggled with anxiety. She was very nervous about returning home because her parents didn’t understand her feelings.

We talked about the possible solutions she could cope with her anxiety before leaving the facility. We also discussed strategies she could use to communicate with her parents so they understand her better. After six months of therapy, she was ready to go home. Her parents told me later that she was doing much better.

14. What Makes You Stand Out From For This Role?

I am passionate about working with youth because I see the difference it can make in their lives. In my previous role as a youth mentor, I witnessed firsthand how much support and encouragement can improve a young person’s life. I am dedicated to assisting every child in reaching their full potential and developing self-confidence.

15. Which Age Groups Do You Enjoy Working With?

I enjoy working with children in elementary school. They are at a great age where they learn new things while still being excited about their day. I also enjoy watching them grow and learn throughout the year. Teenagers are another age group I enjoy because they are becoming more independent and self-assured. It is a great experience to watch them grow into young adults.

16. What, In Your Opinion, Can Be The Most Important Skill For Youth Specialists To Have?

I would name the skill empathy, especially for youth specialists. I have worked with several children who were victims of trauma, abuse, or neglect, and an empathetic approach can make all the difference in how they feel about their time at our facility. It’s also important to me that youth specialists can effectively communicate with both children and parents. This confirms that everyone is on the same page and feels supported.

17. How Often Do You Think Youth Specialists Should Meet With Young People They’Re Working With?

Youth specialists, in my opinion, should meet with their clients at least once a week. This lets me know them better and ensure they’re on track to meet their objectives. If I notice someone struggling or needing additional support, I may increase our meetings to twice a week until we find a solution. However, if I believe someone isn’t making enough progress after two weeks, I suggest finding another specialist who can help.

18. There Are Some New Trends Of Young People Engaging In Dangerous Behaviors. How Would You Address This Issue With Your Students?

I witnessed this problem firsthand while working with a group of students engaging in risky behaviors. As a teacher’s aide, I assisted in developing a program that addressed these issues head-on. We developed a curriculum that educated our students about the risks of risky behavior and provided resources for assistance. We incorporated the program into the school’s curriculum because it was so successful.

19. We Conduct Complete Background Checks. So, Do You Think You Can Pass A Criminal, Education, Drug Check, And A Physical?

Yes, I am capable of passing all of the required tests. Alternatively, I can pass your education and drug tests and any physical exams you require. Although it is no longer on my record, I did have a criminal record as a child for two counts of petty theft. Of course, my record has been spotless for the past two decades.

20. Do You Prefer Working In A Team Or Individually?

I’ve learned to work well in both groups and on my own, and I enjoy each situation for different reasons. Working on my own gives me time to process my tasks and any difficult situations that may arise. Working in a team allows me to foster growth and learning by creating a supportive environment. When working with at-risk youth, each approach has its advantages. Although doing paperwork and writing case reports may appear tedious, I have always viewed it as a time of reflection in which I can sit down and collect my thoughts about a client and their situation. This independent report writing allows me to create action plans for clients and collect and overcome any reservations I may or may not have as I work with a client. Working as a team and brainstorming plans or developing ways to improve what we do, on the other hand, is an exciting way to feel supported and a part of something bigger than me. We rely on the people we work with in the youth work industry. As frontline workers, we put ourselves in vulnerable positions every day, and we must depend on the ones around us to have our backs. At the same time, we must learn to trust our independent reasoning.

21. Do You Have Formal Training Or Any Experience Leading And Mentoring At-Risk Youth?

Yes, I have leadership and mentoring experience as a youth specialist. I have a leadership diploma with a primary focus on youth work. I also have a Counseling diploma, focusing on Child and Youth Development and Grief. I am certified in group therapy, suicide intervention, addiction treatment, and emergency response. My experience began over 20 years ago when I volunteered at a drop-in center with at-risk youth. I’ve seen and experienced how far this industry has come in combating issues affecting at-risk youth over the years. I am a part of changing how we view and treat at-risk youth, and I am encouraged to witness the progress being made in centers and organizations like yours, where an open mind and nonjudgmental approach is essential. We no longer shame these children into seeking help; instead, we meet them where they are and offer support based on relationship building rather than telling them that they are wrong for their choices. Today’s world has changed dramatically in the 20 years since I began this career, and I am delighted to see all of the positive changes. I am eager to further my education and experience with your prestigious organization.

22. Which Age-Appropriate Activities Have You Led In The Past?

My first field job was with a small town community center. My job included collaborating with the team to plan all of the summer activities for the youth participants. In April, we visited a local high school and spoke with a group of students ranging from middle school to high school. We wished to include them in the conversation because they were our target age group. We discussed their hobbies, insecurities, and fears. We talked to them and inquired if we could do something to prepare for the next grade level over the summer. We devised a strategy based on these discussions. We formed a book club to discuss coming-of-age novels. We would discuss the book and feelings and answer questions at each week’s end.

We offered yoga classes and organized fun day trips. We even got local shops and restaurants to donate money and products to help fund these immersive programs. One of the successful events included 24 hours of summer vacation, which began at 7 PM on a Friday and ended at 7 PM the next day  (community-wide). I arranged with the local movie theater for us to come between 1 AM and 3 AM on Friday so they could play video games on the big screens. Every Saturday, we had daytime games in the park, and various local restaurants delivered food and beverages throughout the day. Then we went on a citywide scavenger hunt. A different leader led each group of kids, and they had to complete fun tasks that took them all over town. Some businesses set up an obstacle course, while others provided participants with clues and snacks along the way. We wrapped up the day with a barbecue for all of the kids, parents, and volunteers, followed by traditional camp-style games in the park. This experience provided an excellent foundation for learning how to plan engaging and age-appropriate activities, and I eagerly anticipate doing the same with your organization.

23. If Hired, How Would You Begin To Assess The Needs Of The Youth In Our Program?

First, I would evaluate program requirements in light of your organization’s policies and guidelines. As per my job training, I would also consider your preferred approach. I’ve done intake before, which means that every time I take on a new client, I assess their circumstances, individual needs, and unique goals. Based on those factors, I developed an action plan for the client. When it comes to youth, I employ several assessment methods. I observe who they associate with, what their body language tells me, and how they choose to present themselves to the world. I also look for malnutrition or poor grooming to self-harm. I observe their concentration level, whether they are making eye contact, and whether their eyes are clear. I can make better recommendations about the program type or approach that best suits them if I diligently look for numerous clues.

24. What Ideas Would You Give To Improve Our Youth Programs?

Before I offer suggestions for improving a program or organization, I like to spend some time there and become a valuable team asset. This method allows me to see what works and where my experience or education can be most useful. I used to jump right and throw my ideas out there when I was new to this field. I thought I was helpful, but it turned out to be annoying, and I came across as arrogant. I have grown up and realized that, while I have a lot of great ideas, there is a right time and place to present them. I like to build trust with my colleagues as I do with my clients before I feel comfortable suggesting changes. I have a lot of great ideas and enjoy organizing activities such as group outings, games, art therapy, and sports to boost confidence.

25. How Would You De-Escalate A Situation That Is Getting Out Of Control? Mention Any Example Of A Time When You Successfully Did So.

In my volunteer and work experiences, as well as in my daily life, I have had to de-escalate numerous situations. One instance occurred when I was in a grocery store’s parking lot (shortly after management lifted a few restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic). I was walking back to my car with my cart when I noticed three men shouting and cursing. They were squabbling over a parking spot in the curbside pickup zone. These men were obstructing traffic and causing a commotion, and a fistfight appeared on the way. Close by was a young boy who pushed carts for the store. I told him to go into the store and get help because he looked scared.

Next, I instinctively raised my hands and shouted STOP several times. I got their attention and asked them to calm down and tell me what was happening. I told them about how the pandemic had affected all of us and demonstrated that I understood the stress that isolation had caused. I reminded them that we live in one of the best places in the world and how fortunate we are to have amenities like curbside pickup and our vehicles! I reminded them that we needed to stick together for the greater good. I requested that they shake hands and laugh it off.

I had all of them loading my groceries into my car and apologizing for their behavior when help arrived from inside the store. I mocked them, saying it was my day off, and they still forced me to work as a mediator. When it comes to de-escalating these techniques, I prefer to remain calm while remaining firm, listen carefully, be nonjudgmental, and use humor when appropriate. Typically, everyone leaves the situation satisfied and feeling heard.

Conclusion

This content presents the top 25 interview questions and answers which might help you in a youth specialist interview. You can get enough help from them, and surely, you will succeed if you go through them. All of them might not be asked, but as they are the most frequently asked ones, you surely will excel in the interview.