Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation

Applications & Interviews

What might I be thinking about when considering the application and interview process?

Who can help me with online applications?

Any vocational professional can help you with online applications.  You may also have a peer, a friend, or family member who is good at working with online applications.  Try to include as many “keywords” as possible in your application – words that you see in the job description, and qualifications you know they are looking for.

Be aware that if you are working with a vocational professional (Employment Specialist, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor etc.) they may have working relationships and agreements with a number of employers that may help you connect with employers in different ways. Always check with your professional, because they may help negotiate with employers who may, for example, agree to paper applications or prefer to interview the candidate prior to the application.

What if I don’t have any references?

You may have people who will be a reference for you that you’re not thinking of.  We tend to think only of past employers, but you may be able to ask other people to be references for you.  References are meant to give the employer more information about whether you would be a match for the job and for the organization.

Professional references should include professional contacts such as employers, supervisors, or Human Resources professionals who have worked with you and who know what a good worker you are.  Professional references speak to the kind of work you do. If you do not have a paid work history, consider volunteer work history or ask your vocational professional.

References may also include personal references, people in your life such as clergy, instructors, or neighbors who will vouch for you based on their personal experience with you. It is especially helpful if your reference is employed in a responsible position and you name the company and position. For Example:

Mr. Robert Haywood, Owner/ Instructor, Soo Bahk Do Karate Academy, 200 Bay Road, Brooklyn, N.Y.   555-555-5555  (instructor 5 years)

What if a job application asks if I have a disability?

Job seekers are often concerned about potential questions about disability that may be intrusive and contribute to possible discrimination. You have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA. Under the ADA related to employment, employers must take steps to ensure that people with disabilities have a fair shake and are not discriminated against in employment and other settings.

Employers may include a form asking about disability as part of an effort to be inclusive of people with disabilities in federal contractor jobs.  You do not need to say that you have a disability at all if you do not need to or want to, but you can tell your employer about a disability, especially if you need reasonable accommodations in order to do the job.

I applied for a job. Now what?

Wait. In many ways, the ball is now in the employer’s court. However, if you don’t hear anything, you may contact the employer to make sure they have received your application and express your sincere interest in the position. Avoid multiple calls to the employer, and instead focus on positivity and keep plugging away at your plan for getting a job.

Expect to apply to many different jobs before getting an interview somewhere, and to have multiple interviews before you get a job offer. Continue to submit applications and do not be discouraged.  Each “no” is one step closer to “yes”.

How should I prepare for an interview?

Preparing for an interview is a matter of anticipating questions that the employer will ask, and preparing both answers to those questions and questions of your own for the employer.

Anticipating interview questions is thinking through, and practicing answers to commonly asked interview questions.  The employer wants to know if you will fit in to their company culture as well as whether you can do the job, so do your homework and research what the company does and what is important to them.

You may also want to think about questions that the employer may have about you in particular.  Anticipate questions about any employment gaps in your resume, interesting jobs you may have had, and any unique qualifications or experiences you have to offer.  Be thoughtful, earnest, and positive in your answers.  Remember that the employer is always asking trying to find out if you are right for the job, no matter what question is being asked.

It is a good practice to role play your interview with a vocational professional or someone who knows you well.  They will not ask the exact questions the employer will ask, but it will help you practice not only answers to potential questions but also you can practice greeting the employer, your handshake, and closing the interview in advance.  Pay special attention to questions you are most concerned about such as gaps in employment, issues about disability etc. The links below may give you some ideas about preparing for interviews.

How do I cope with interview anxiety?

3 Tips to Overcome Job Interview Anxiety:  The tips featured in this video can help with overcoming nerves both before & during the interview.

What if the interviewer asks about my disability?

Employers are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended (see links below).  This does not, however, prevent an employer in actuality from asking questions about disability so it is best to be prepared.   If you are referred to an employer through an employment program or Employment Specialist, there is an automatic disclosure that you have a disability but not necessarily what the disability is.  Rehearsing the answers is vitally important.

Return to the main "Getting Work" page.

Where am I in my employment journey?