1. Tell us how do/did you like law school?

People ask this question because it's simple to ask, and it's an easy weeder question. If I'm interviewing someone who tells me with vehemence how much they hated law school, I'm probably not going to hire them for a legal job. The only appropriate answer to this question is some variant of, “In general, I enjoyed it and found it challenging. Of course, it was tough at times, but I learned enough to make it worthwhile.” Don't be a Pollyanna (no one will believe that you loved every second of law school), but try to be generally upbeat about the experience.

2. Explain me why are you leaving your current job as Community Advocate?

If you have a job now, be prepared to explain why you're leaving it. “I hate my boss,” is not a good answer. Be tactful, and focus on the growth opportunities the new role you're interviewing for will permit (or focus on some other practical issue, such as the need to move to a new location). For example, “I enjoy the work I'm doing now, but I'd like to spend more time in court. That's why this position handling contested child custody battles are perfect for me.”

3. Tell me does Advocacy have a budget?

This is a more important question than you would think as it shows organizational commitment. Managing without a budget slows you down and makes it hard to plan. Thankfully, we are responsible for our budget.

4. Tell me when do you consider an outside school placement?

The short answer is when a public school cannot meet the student's needs with in-house support services, that is the time to think about outside placements. However, because outside placements remove a student from their home school and are therefore more “restrictive” placements (as opposed to the “least restrictive environment” which is the school district's obligation to provide), as well as being costly, these decisions are approached with great care by school districts. Consultation with and testing (as well as a school-based observation) by an independent evaluator is often necessary to obtain the information needed to determine whether an outside placement is required. Again because even intelligent people of good will can hold opposing views, these decisions are not made lightly or quickly.

5. Tell me how long has there been an Advocacy program and is this position a new one?

The answer will let you know if it is a start-up group or a new position that needs to prove and define itself. A new group and position will give you the opportunity to impact direction. Established ones will are easier to join and get up to speed. Be prepared to answer the counter-question, are you someone best suited for lots of change or do you prefer stability.

6. Explain me in your district what are people struggling with? How can you help?

The biggest issue we are facing is inequality. Our current political leaders are placing special interests, self interests, and party interests before the people of the state.
Illinois residents are struggling to afford a home. They struggle with the under-funding of public schools and the lack of investment in urban communities. They struggle with gentrification, with a divide between police and community, with wages, with lack of small business support, and with high crime in particular areas.
I believe the most important way I can help is by placing the people first. By fighting for policies and engaging in actions nationally and locally that address the root causes of issues and does not simply treat symptoms for my personal benefit. By investing in people and all communities, we will not only create change, but also hold other politicians accountable, no matter their party.

7. Explain me what are the key 2016 goals for the company and the advocacy team?

We have metrics to meet, and will discuss them at the end of H1.

☛ Company: One of the corporate KPI's is continuing to increase the company's NPS score which advocacy can have a direct impact on.
☛ Team: Advocacy's goals are to develop a community among users users, identify and energize advocates, and generate stories and use cases for marketing, sales and customer success to use in their work and for customers to share..
☛ Personal: You will have personal goals that we will develop together.

8. Tell us how can people help you in your campaign?

I always say that it takes a community to make a difference. This congressional run is not my run, it is our (the constituents) run. It is going to take a powerful grassroots effort to topple the political machine and establishment that is currently entrenched.

If anyone wants to help, I need them to share their stories and ideas with me. My only special interest are my constituents. I need people to spread the message, I need people to donate their time/energy, and I need people to donate. I will take $0 dollars from any special interest group.

My campaign is people powered and 100% grassroots funded as I recognize the importance of removing money from politics.

9. Tell me what options does a child have?

Districts are required to provide all students with a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Students on IEPs are entitled to FAPE as well as whatever services they require to make “meaningful educational progress.”

This does not mean that people of good faith and intelligence always agree about whether an individual child is receiving an appropriate education or making meaningful progress. The essential protection of special education law, however, is the entitlement to a dialogue. School districts cannot decline communicate with parents and parents are entitled to participate in the decision-making process. However, all parties are free to disagree and to have their concerns heard in increasing formal forums offered by the state.

10. Explain me in what way are you a community person?

This question allows the interviewee to tell you about what communities they participate in on a daily basis and why they see themselves being a good fit for your role. This question will also draw clear lines between community folks and interviewees who are simply good on the twitters, can manage a support box like a pro, or can throw a fun party. It's not that these skills are not important or relevant to being a community manager, but what's more important is that there are true community skills supporting these efforts.

Download Interview PDF

11. Tell me why is this job a good fit for you?

It's unlikely you'll be asked this question directly, but it's likely to be asked obliquely. (“Why Organization X?”) This is where you get to showcase the research you did on the organization and job description. You want to show that a) you know what the job description requires and b) that you're a good fit. For example, “I'm really excited about the mix of work in this position. I enjoy client interaction, so I'd like to help out with the weekly legal information booth. But I'd also like to improve my courtroom skills, and expand on the work I did in the family law clinic in law school, so the opportunity to handle regular motion hearings is appealing.”

12. Do you know what is the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP?

A 504 Plan is a plan of accommodations provided to students under the Americans with Disabilities Act. An IEP is provided under IDEA for students whose needs cannot be met by accommodations alone and who require specialized instruction or related services. An IEP is substantially more protection for an individual student because under an IEP, the school district cannot unilaterally terminate services without notice or parental consent. In addition, under federal law pertaining to IEPs, if there is a dispute about the services in the IEP, the student “stays put” in the last agreed upon program and placement during the pendency of the dispute. These are invaluable protections which cannot be underestimated and which 504 Accommodation Plans do not carry.

13. Tell us what is your background and how did you get into school advocacy?

Because this is not a credentialed profession, we all come to advocacy from idiosyncratic backgrounds. My path to advocacy was a bit circuitous. I put myself through college (which took ten years) as a family law paralegal, so I have been comfortable thinking about things through the legal lens since I was 18. I studied English in college and got a teaching certificate so my path into education was pretty straightforward. I taught secondary school English for about 3 years in various schools getting laid off from each one at the end of the year because of budget cuts related to the passing of Proposition 2 1/2 in 1980.
I spent a about a year as a Victim Witness Advocate in the Framingham District Court and subsequently worked for the now defunct state agency Office for Children as the Child Advocate/Coordinator covering the South Shore for the duration of the 1980's. When OFC was being dismantled, I was laid off yet again, and went to work at Westwood as the After-Care Coordinator for the child and adolescent population (effectively the in house Child Advocate) for most of the 1990's.
My work at Westwood was an invaluable “graduate degree” in clinical assessment and discharge planning including a window into the world of negotiations with insurance companies. When managed care kicked in, I was laid off again and went into private advocacy around 1998. Hence, the focus of my practice in advocacy for children and adolescents with psychiatric disabilities and histories of hospitalizations (or risk of hospitalization).

14. Tell me what opportunities are there for advancement?

Crimson, like so many other tech companies has a young work force. As we are growing, it is a high priority to identify career tracks so we can invest in and keep you. We already had someone from support join advocacy and the expectation is that after a year you could become a customer success manager, join the professional services team as an analyst, go into support, or move to another department. Advocacy is also growing and you can stay with the team, become really good at it, and make the leap to become a manager or go to another company.

On a personal note, mentoring is the most enjoyable part of my work. This is an important decision for you. I know we will ask for references, and as this is an entry level position don't be afraid to ask if you could speak to a person who used to work for me or any hiring manager.

15. Tell me what legal rights and protections does a child have in the educational setting?

Every student is entitled to a free appropriate public education. All states are governed by the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) which establishes a baseline of procedures and protections. If a state's laws and regulations are more stringent, the state regulations prevail. This is the case in Massachusetts. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website provides information for parents about the special education process, regulations, and policies with which school districts must comply. The Federation for Children with Special Needs and the Special Needs Advocacy Network offer information and training for parents and advocates alike.

16. Tell us does a child need to have neuro psych testing in order to have an IEP?

School districts are required to conduct educational testing but not neuropsychological testing. Parents who wish to have more detailed assessments therefore seek independent assessments. For students with social/emotional disabilities, I believe that neuro-pspychological testing with projectives is a valuable means of connecting all the dots between a students neurology (brain wiring), psychology (emotions), and functionality (socially, emotionally and behaviorally as well as academically and cognitively in school and in the community).

Independent evaluations are not legally binding on school districts, but must be considered. Parents are well advised to select an evaluator who can participate as an expert witness should any dispute rise to the level of formal appeals. If the evaluator also available to attend Team meetings on the student's behalf and observe the student in school, they become an active and ongoing member of the Team, engaged and available to answer questions and offer informed opinions, which can meaningfully impact the outcome of discussions and potentially resolve disputes without need for formal appeals.

17. Tell us on the other hand, how are you able to reach out to right wing voters? What policies do you believe appeal to all voters?

Brand New Congress is a post partisan movement. When people are placed before party, the ability to reach across the aisle and appeal to all voters is strengthened.

Our current political leaders follow individuals and support policies that they know are detrimental to society, but they do so in the names of party, self interest, and special interests. There are policies that are universal, that no matter party affiliation, all Americans care about. Economic policies, defense policies, education policies, and criminal justice policies are all policies that cross partisanship.

As constituents and leaders, we do not have to agree on everything, but I recognize the importance of not labeling each other because of those disagreements. When individuals are labeled, we often become defensive and shut down, eliminating the ability to compromise or grow. We have to remember that the majority of Americans both Democratic and Republican are working class and do not belong to the top 1%!

18. Tell me are there recent changes that have been made that would be important for parents to know about (or possible changes to come?)

There are developments in case law which impact the implementation of special education regulations with each decision of a judge or a hearing officer. For information about pending legislation or legal trends, the websites of Massachusetts Advocates for Children or the Federation for Children with Special Needs are great resources.

19. Tell us what are some tips to facilitate a collaborative spirit between the parents and schools when negotiating accommodations for a child?

A sense of mutual respect and collaboration are essential when negotiating with school districts on behalf of vulnerable children. First and foremost, it is important to approach any disputes with civility and calm. Recommendations from outpatient clinicians and evaluators should be thoughtfully written and all documentation should be provided to the school district in advance of any meetings. Surprises should be avoided at Team meetings; agendas should be clarified in advance; conversations and meetings should be followed up with notes of appreciation. This is typically impossible for parents to accomplish alone because every conversation about the suffering of one's own child is painful and stressful, compromising any parent's ability to think clearly or objectively about what to say, how to say it, when to say something and when to remain silent. These are the instincts that a skilled advocate can bring to the process.

20. Top 30 Community Advocate Job Interview Questions:

☛ Patient care requires a strong amount of compassion. Do you consider yourself a compassionate person?
☛ At Advocate Health Care we seek to hire individuals who display a keen interest in the healthcare arena. Would you consider yourself dedicated to a career in healthcare services?
☛ In the healthcare services industry there are many emotions in a day. Have your emotions ever been in the way of your productivity?
☛ Tell me about your healthcare related education and training.
☛ At Advocate Health Care we take pride in our great relationships with clients, vendors, coworkers, and patients. Do you consider yourself to be a strong relationship builder?
☛ What is your patient care philosophy?
☛ In order to work for Advocate Health Care, you must be able to pass a full criminal background check. Do you consent to a full background check?
☛ Healthcare service companies require strong organizational skills and attention to detail. How do you ensure that your work is properly organized, and highly accurate?
☛ If you could expand your knowledge and expertise in any area of healthcare services, which would you choose?
☛ It is often said that a career in healthcare is a 'thankless job'. How can we keep you motivated and engaged, even on the days when you feel your work goes unnoticed?
☛ Have you ever been involved in ordering medical supplies, maintaining inventory, or other types of health care related administrative duties?
☛ At Advocate Health Care we seek to hire individuals who have ambitions of growing their career. Where do you see yourself in 3-5 years?
☛ Advocate Health Care seeks to hire those with strong problem solving skills. When were you able to successfully resolve a problem in the workplace?
☛ When have you shown a willingness to learn a new method or new approach to solving a problem?
☛ How would you describe your personality?
☛ Advocate Health Care has a diverse workforce. When have you worked amongst a diverse group of people?
☛ Do you prefer to work in a team based position or individually?
☛ Advocate Health Care supports a healthy work/life balance for all employees. How do you balance life and work?
☛ Tell me about yourself.
☛ What part of your healthcare career brings you the most stress?
☛ If you could expand your knowledge and expertise in any healthcare service area, which would you choose?
☛ If Advocate Health Care hired you today, what would you accomplish first?
☛ Think about a difficult boss, professor or coworker. What made him or her difficult? How did you successfully interact with this person?
☛ With the ongoing changes in the healthcare services industry, how do you keep your knowledge current?
☛ What type of work environment do you dislike working in?
☛ In your opinion, what makes you a great problem solver?
☛ Rate your problem solving skills from 1-10. How do you justify your rating?
☛ What is your greatest weakness?
☛ Why do you think you will be successful in this role with Advocate Health Care?
☛ Do you think it is possible to be a good team member, yet disagree with the leader?
☛ Advocate Health Care was initially looking for someone with 5 years' experience in a similar role. Considering you have just 2 years' experience, would you be willing to accept this position at a lower salary?

21. Explain me about your Note/Moot Court competition brief?

Remember that anything on your resume is fair game for discussion! If you list a Law Review Note or even an undergraduate thesis project, be prepared to talk about it in detail. If it's been years since you looked at your Note (or thought about the argument in your Moot Court competition), spend a few minutes getting back up to speed in case it comes up.

22. Tell us when do you call an attorney?

Attorneys specialize in preparing cases for formal appeal proceedings before a hearing officer. This is a process which can be exceedingly costly, acrimonious, and time consuming. It is not something that either parents or attorneys enter without very careful consideration of alternative means of dispute resolution. It can useful to consult with an attorney whenever it appears that a dispute is unresolvable. A wise and careful attorney will help a parent assess all the strengths and weakness of their case and may suggest strategies for resolving disputes with an advocate's assistance.Of the thousands of IEP rejections received by the state annually, barely 50 cases end up in formal appeals. The odds for settlement are good when parents have expert assistance.

23. Tell me how does advocacy re: emotional problems differ from advocacy re: learning problems?

In evaluating a student's special needs, a school district first assesses a student's academic skills including the ability to read, write and compute. These are areas in which the district has primary expertise and can legitimately diagnose a disability. Schools are not, however, able to diagnose mental illness. This is the express responsibility of clinicians with specialized training and credentials, experience and expertise. This makes advocacy for students with emotional problems considerably easier because the diagnosis of the problem and the expertise regarding interventions begins outside the school district's purview. It is rare that a school district disputes a psychiatrist's diagnosis. School districts are prohibited from opining regarding a student's medications.

24. Do you know what exactly does a school advocate do?

Every advocate approaches the work differently and has their own area of specialization, based on their background and areas of expertise. Some advocates are also lawyers; some advocates are also evaluators; some are parents of children with special needs and others are former educators or administrators.
I see my role as building bridges of communication on behalf of students who struggle with severe psychological distress, a category of disability which is not a school district's area of expertise. I help parents engage in productive dialogue with school staff (as well as other agencies) using the documentation and experts involved in their child's treatment as a “launching pad.” My familiarity with the clinical, educational, and regulatory worlds which informs these negotiations enables me to help parents make informed decisions about getting their children the services they need.
I strive to make this a speedy and stress-free process for parent's already worried sick about their child, but it is rarely either. If nothing else, I can help parents pick and choose their battles, process their options, and share their anxiety so that discussions with school and agency personnel is more predictable and productive.

25. Tell me does what the company do resonate with you?

The last and probably most important question, is the one you have to ask of yourself. Although I am not a data analyst, I love looking at data in order to determine customer utilization patterns and related trends. Is working for a social media data analytics and insight platform a fit for your work DNA?

Looking forward to hiring and working with the new person.

Download Interview PDF

26. Tell me how do you define a community?

“Community” as a term is something tossed around in conversation frequently, but few folks have thought to consider what it actually means. Good community talent will have their own opinions and theories and will be able to provide a succinct definition off hand. Red flag answers will include vague references to social media and content - and community management is not the same as social media.

27. Explain me what type of law are you interested in?

If you're interviewing for an entry-level position in a firm, or with a judge or certain internships, you might not be expected to have a strong interest in exactly the subject matter of the job on offer. However, you still need an answer prepared to explain what type of law you eventually see yourself practicing. “I'm not sure,” is not a good answer! If you have to, make something up. But have a reasonable answer ready to go.

28. Do you know how often do IEPs get updated? Do they transfer from one school to another?

School districts are required to review and update IEPs annually. They are required to evaluate a student's special education needs at least every three years. The IEP program and placement is portable within the state. If a student moves from one town to another, their IEP moves with them “as is.” It remains fully in effect until a subsequent IEP is proposed and accepted by the parents.

29. Tell us what are the warning signs that your child might need a special education plan?

My rule of thumb is that if a parent is worried about their child, they should consult with their child's doctor and teachers to determine whether a more thorough evaluation would be helpful. If a parent requests a special education evaluation, the school district is required to provide them with a Consent to Evaluate form. Once the consent form is signed, the district has 30 school days to conduct the evaluations in any and all areas of suspected need and to convene a Team meeting to determine eligibility. Within 45 school days of the signing of the consent form, the Team has to provide the parent either with an IEP or a Notice of Refusal to Act (i.e. denial of eligibility). Parents can then accept or reject (in whole or in part) the IEP as proposed. They can also reject the denial of eligibility. Upon receipt of a rejection of any sort, the district is required to notify the state within five days and parents can avail themselves of the Bureau of Special Education Appeals dispute resolution options and resources.

30. Explain me what is your strategy for bringing progressives together? What is your vision for the left?

We take progressive opposition that attempts to divide us up by creating divisive narratives that focus on our differences, and we flip it on its head. We must strategically utilize empathy and intersectionality to transform our diversity into a strength. When we dedicate our energy to identifying commonalities while respecting our differences, we can galvanize our base. To accomplish this, we need leaders that not only communicate the importance of common ground, but model it as well.

Intersectionality means that, as progressives, we must recognize that once we better acknowledge the differences among us, the better we will understand how to empower the diverse subgroups within our movement. Once this occurs, our opposition cannot marginalize our efforts, because each and every fight includes a diverse base bringing with them the multiple perspectives and skills needed to create systemic change. Once we fight just as hard for each other as we do for our singular issues, all issues progressives are fighting for will be addressed and changed.

31. Explain me does Customer Advocacy live in marketing or in the customer care organization?

My guess is 90% of advocacy teams live in marketing. That's because marketing has the budget and if the top priority is to generate leads that's where advocacy probably belongs. At Crimson, advocacy lives in the client services organization alongside support, coaching, professional services and most important the Customer Success team.

I have had the opportunity to manage advocacy programs that lived in marketing and client services and have to say that client services is the place to be. For a new program, it is especially important for advocacy to be close to the people working directly with customers.

32. I see you like baking…what type of things do you like to bake?

As I've argued elsewhere, the most important information on your resume actually has nothing to do with law at all - it's your hobbies and interests. If well selected, these can fill a good chunk of time in an interview and allow you to make a more human connection with the interviewer. However…you have to actually do these things! I once asked a candidate what kind of cooking he enjoyed, and he looked at me blankly until I showed him the Interests section of his resume, which listed “cooking” as an interest. Turns out he didn't cook at all, which was somewhat confusing (and made me wonder who wrote his resume!).

33. Tell me what were your favorite law school classes?

Again, an easy question to ask that can be a minefield for the unprepared. It doesn't really matter how you respond to this, as long as the courses you offer have a reasonable relationship to the job you're interviewing for. If you're interviewing at a small law firm that only does civil cases, it's suspicious if all of your favorite courses are criminal law and procedure. Perhaps you're just interviewing here because you can't get the job you really want? (Which may be true, but isn't the best impression to convey!) Before the interview, look over your transcript and think about what classes are most related to the work you'd be doing in the role you're interviewing for. Easy - those are your favorite classes!

34. Tell me how do you find an advocate?

Because advocacy is not a credentialed profession, parents are often faced with confusion when deciding who to hire. It is usually helpful to start by asking for recommendations from specialists (independent evaluators or clinicians) who know their child's needs. As in selecting an independent evaluator, it is wise to choose an advocate who is experienced in helping families whose children struggle with similar disabilities. It can be helpful to speak with two or three advocates to compare. I believe it is critical to choose someone with whom a parent feels “simpatico”, someone you feel you can trust to give you honest, compassionate and thoughtful advice, even if its advice you'd rather not have to hear. Other resources for advocacy are the Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPAN) and the Federation for Children with Special Needs.

35. Explain me are these the same for public and private schools? If not, how do they differ?

Schools which accept public funding are bound by the IDEA requirements. This includes Charter Schools, Vocational-Technical Schools, and special education schools which accept special education students for placements funded by their public school districts. It does not apply to private schools which generally do not accept publicly-funded students.

36. Tell me who has endorsed you?

As a Brand New Congress candidate, I am also currently endorsed by Justice Democrats.

37. Tell me what policies or issues are most important to you in your campaign?

I truly believe in fighting for the liberty and justice of all people. Our political leaders must listen when constituents are yelling.

38. Please explain me about a time that you had to advocate on behalf of someone else?

A major part of the community manager role is advocating on behalf of users, so this question should be a no brainer for anyone you intend to hire. This is also a good question to ask folks who might be transitioning in from another field, as there should be many transferable situations at top of mind ranging from defending younger siblings from bullies to helping a teammate get a promotion. Pay particularly close attention to how they describe the way that they went about pursuing a good outcome - this can be very telling, particularly in its absence.