People with disabilities should not end up confined in a bed, or in the house of their parents for a lifetime. Whenever possible, we should try to integrate them into the working process. Having a job means giving our days a certain meaning, doing something for the society or the local community, feeling useful and having some dignity.
Such a feeling is priceless for people who often struggle with doubts, and ask themselves whether it is even worth living…
But they won’t succeed on this journey alone. They need a qualified professional, a job coach, someone who will help them to integrate into the working environment, and overcome their fears and doubts. They need a helping hand. Can it be you?
Let’s have a look at questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting position.
Why do you want to work as a Job Coach?
You should refer to two things in your answer: the meaningful purpose you see in this work, and your skills and abilities that make from you a good candidate for the job.
Referring to the first one, you can point out the ever-growing prevalence of both mental and physical disabilities in our society. You are concerned, you know that job coaches play, and will continue to play, an integral role in our society.
You do not want to see all disabled people confined to their homes (or to nursing homes), speeding their days hanging around and smoking cigarettes, doing nothing useful, living from the money of the tax payers. It’s not good for anyone. You see how you can change the situation as a job coach, at least in the local community. That’s motivated you to pursue this career.
Then comes the second point–your skills and abilities. You are a great listener, you have compassion and understanding for the world of the disabled, you have patience, and great planning and organizational skills. You believe to have what it takes to be an excellent mentor, and that’s why you decided to pursue this particular career path.
What would you like to accomplish with your clients?
The most important thing is to show realistic expectations, and individual approach to each client. Position of a job coach isn’t about a 100% success rate. Not alone 50%… You will succeed with some clients, and they will find jobs and retain them for a long time.
But with most clients you will fail, simply because that’s how it works on the employment market, and some fears and obstacles the clients carry within them aren’t easy to overcome. You should be fine with that, and clearly demonstrate that you won’t be discouraged by setbacks in this job.
Talking about an individual approach, you should ensure your interviewers that you want to design an individual plan for each client, in accordance with their wishes, needs, diagnosis, and other things. And the same is true about achievements. For some clients, even the fact that they find courage to talk to you, or to interview for some jobs, will be a great achievement.
As long as you help them to overcome their fears and mental blocks, you already achieved something important with them. Whether they eventually get the job and retain it isn’t the most important thing…
Ensure the hiring managers that you will try your best with every client. At the same time, however, you understand that effort counts more than final results in this job. That’s exactly the way in which you will approach your work.
Explain how you will lead the first meeting with the client.
In the first meeting, everything is about listening, and understanding the client. What do they expect from the cooperation with you? Do they have a particular position or occupation on their mind? What are their limitations, and how can you help them overcome these limitations? What steps do you need to take together, in order to help them get ready for the job?
Asking targeted questions, and listening to the client, you will try to find the answers to these questions. What’s more, you should also focus on trust building during the first meeting with the client. Explaining them your role, how exactly you can help them, showing some compassion for their situation, and perhaps also sharing with them something from your personal life, you will try to gain their trust, because it would be very hard to progress if they did not trust you…
How would you identify a fitting position for your client?
You have several ways of doing this. The most common one is trying to identify their strengths and weaknesses, and, judging their mental and physical capacities, as well as their expectations and needs, trying to find a good match.
But you can also say that you do not want to be limited by some prejudice. You are a coach, and you should help your clients devise new skills, and overcome their fears and mental blocks. Hence there aren’t really any limits. As long as they meet the job requirements in terms of education, you will help them to pursue their dream, unless it is something completely unrealistic.
You can talk also about personality tests and career choice questionnaires, and other tools that can help you find the right match for the client–especially if they aren’t sure what they can, and want to do in life…
In your opinion, how important it is to prepare the clients for social interactions they will have in the workplace?
Say that it is a vital part of your work. At the end of the day, employees interact with each other, or with clients, in almost all jobs. And many of your clients may have spent the last years (or their entire life up to this point) in a relative isolation.
They may struggle with ordinary conversations in the workplace, and hence you want to do many role plays with them, preparing them for different situations they may encounter in the workplace (normal conversation, misunderstanding, conflict with a colleague, etc).
You understand that communication is the most important thing in the workplace, and you want to devote a significant part of your work to preparing clients for social interactions with their new colleagues.
* Special Tip: You can also download the full list of questions in a one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later:
How would you motivate your clients to try harder, either in their job search, or directly at work?
People who haven’t worked for a long time will often find it hard to put in the necessary effort, either into their job search, or directly into their work.
Idleness and laziness go hand in hand, and one of the challenges you will face as a job coach is to help your clients find motivation and try hard, so they can get a job at first place, and retain it down the road.
You can suggest different ways of motivating your clients, but you should emphasize that motivation from outside never really works, at least not in a long run. Hence you will opt for another ways:
- Ensuring that the client applies for a job they want to do, and will enjoy doing (at least to some extend).
- Helping the clients to see all the positives of having a job (better income, social interactions, meaningful days, etc).
- Encouraging clients to overcome obstacles, and helping them to deal with the challenges of having a regular job.
- Helping the clients to see the connection of their personal goals (living in an own apartment, starting a family, buying something nice) and the goals they have in work.
In your opinion, what role does reporting and monitoring play in a work of a job coach?
You should give it some importance, though it is not the core of the job. But you may work with a variety of clients, and it can be difficult to watch their progress unless you report on it regularly. What’s more, some of your clients may change their coach over time, and it is nice to have some documentation you can give to your successor. Just to make their job a bit easier.
You can say that you plan to make a short structured report after each meeting with the client, monitoring on the progress you made, and setting goals until the next meeting. Having an internal file with such reports about each client, you can easily look into it anytime, and see where you stand, and whether you shouldn’t reevaluate the overall employment plan with the client…
Some other questions you may get in your interview for a position of a Job Coach
- What role do employers play in your work? In your opinion, should a job coach try to build relationships with some employers who can employ their clients?
- You may fail to find employment for the majority of your clients. How do plan to deal with such a disappointment?
- What accomplishments are you most proud of?
- What is your knowledge of regulations and standards that apply to the work with disabled people?
- Is there any type of clients you’d prefer not to work with?
- What do you consider the toughest aspect of this job?
- Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership in your work.
- How long do you want to have this job?
Conclusion, next steps
Job coach is a wonderful position for compassionate people who want to have a positive impact on life of disabled men and women. This isn’t a difficult interview.
If you manage to convince the hiring managers of your excellent listening and organizational skills, and the right attitude to various situations that may happen in your work with the disabled people (lack of motivation, setbacks, struggling to find a good match, etc), they will typically give you a chance in the job.
Try to prepare a short answer to each question from this article, and do not forget to check also the following posts:
- Vocational rehabilitation counselor interview questions.
- Job Coaching tips and suggestions.
- Social work interview questions – General questions for social work interviews, you may face some of them while trying to get a position of a job coach.