Recruitment

Recruitment

Find strategies for finding qualified staff, interviewing potential hires, sample questions, and long term plans for staff development. 

 
Find a personnel preparation program Learn more about Vision Rehabilitation Professionals
Business team meeting. A man wearing sunglasses sits at the front of the table

Create a strategy to fill current openings and plan for continued recruitment of staff.  

Start the process by reviewing existing job descriptions to ensure that any new position descriptions will meet the needs of the team.  You might find that longtime employees’ job duties have changed significantly over time and will need to be updated to accurately reflect the work that they do. 

     

    Create a job description for posting to job boards and recruitment sites. 

    • Compare duties to professional scopes of practice, even if you are not requiring certification, to ensure certification is not disincentivized. 
    • As much as possible, use industry standard titles such as “Orientation & Mobility Specialist” rather than “mobility teacher” to help professionals engaged in job searches find the position once posted. 

      Post to job boards commonly frequented by blindness professionals: 

      Post to job search sites that are well known: 

        Connect with organizations comprised of vision rehabilitation professions.

          These organizations communicate with their members through listservs and newsletters and may assist in sharing the job posting.

        • Association of Vision Rehabilitation Therapists (AVRT) www.avrt.org
        • Orientation and Mobility Specialists Association (OMSA) www.usomsa.org

        Learn how some programs are creatively addressing recruitment

        Explore Strategies to Recruit into the Vision Rehab Professions

        There is a national shortage of qualified professionals for services for the blind.  Recruiting efforts are essential to fill this need now and in the future.  Think long term and strive to interest new people in working in the field of blind rehabilitation rather than for one specific position. 

        Encourage interaction and connection through offering 

        • Volunteer opportunities
        • Internship observation hours or internships as is feasible for other professions

        Consider connecting with local colleges and universities to interest students in continuing their education and joining the field.   

         

        There are many related fields such as social work, education/teaching, counseling and other human services who may wish to volunteer with the OIB program or do some observational hours for as part of their undergraduate program.  These individuals may consider changing their career paths to become blindness rehabilitation professionals.  Help them connect with personnel preparation programs to explore their options.

        Programs to Become a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist

        Where Can you to study to become a VRT?

        Are you interested in becoming a vision rehabilitation therapist? Below is a list of  university programs that are approved by the AER University Review Committee. Many programs have grant funding to address a national and regional shortage of service professionals with specialized knowledge in visual impairments. Students meeting admission and grant scholarship requirements may be eligible for tuition support!

        Graduate Programming links:

        Northern Illinois
        https://www.cedu.niu.edu/seed/graduate-programs/masters-visual-disabilities.shtml

        UMass Boston
        https://globalinclusion.umb.edu/academics/graduate-programs/vision-studies-med

        Western Michigan
        https://wmich.edu/visionstudies

        Salus University
        https://www.salus.edu/Colleges/Education-Rehabilitation/Low-Vision-Rehabilitation-Programs.aspx

        University of Montreal
        https://admission.umontreal.ca/en/programs/masters-in-vision-science-option-visual-impairment-and-rehabilitation-english/

        Hunter College
        https://education.hunter.cuny.edu/admissions/graduate-programs/special-education/blind-and-visually-impaired/

        Orientation and Mobility Programs

        These programs are accredited through AER

        North Carolina Central University
        Northern Illinois University
        Portland State University
        Salus University
        San Francisco State University
        Stephen F. Austin State University 
        Texas Tech University
        University of Arkansas at Little Rock
        University of Montreal - English
        University of Massachusetts at Boston
        University of Pittsburgh
        University of Northern Colorado
        Western Michigan University

        Low Vision and Assistive Technology

        Low Vision

        Salus University
        University of Montreal - English

        Assistive Technology

        Western Michigan University 

        Northern Illinois University

        Structured Discovery Programs

        Louisiana Tech offers online education in Visual Impairment and Blindness studies.

        For more information on how to become certified as a Structured Discovery instructor, visit 

        the National Blindness Professional Certification Board

         

         

        Interviewing for Direct Service Positions

        Effective interviewing practices can make a difference when searching for the professional whose education and experience, personality, and work ethic match the open position on your OIB team.

        Suggestions for Interviewing Practices from OIB Program Managers

        • Include a staff member or board member who has vision impairment on the interview panel and observe how the candidate interacts.  
        • Prior to conducting interviews, convene the interviewing panel to discuss what ideal responses to the questions would be.
        • Rank candidate answers to interview questions on a point system.  Tally the points and see if the candidate fits the position requirements, mostly fits, or does not fit.  A rubric will keep candidate evaluation systematic and fair.
        • The interview questions should correlate with the job description.  Categorize the questions to fit identified competencies such as: Professionalism, Communication, Continuous Learning, Planning and Organization, Teamwork, Knowledge of Blindness Skill, etc.
        • Rate answers “A - Strong skill and/or potential in this area”, “B - Some skill and/or potential in this area” or “C- Limited or no skill or potential in this area”.  Count the number of A’s, B’s, and C’s to compare how candidates may meet the requirements of the position.  Average out the scores of everyone on the interviewing or use for discussion points when decision-making.
        • Require the candidate to perform a writing task such as creating a lesson plan, writing a case note, or answering questions over email to evaluate how they express themselves when writing.
        • Using a staff member to stand in for a consumer, ask the candidate to prepare a lesson plan and teach a portion of it to demonstrate their teaching abilities.
        • If extensive travel is part of the position, show the candidate a map of the state.  Given a scenario, observe their rationale for scheduling their travel route and making use of time away from the office.
        • Explain the agency’s expectations for staff in detail. Be explicit especially regarding overnight (solo) travel and community outreach, or public speaking duties.
        • Conduct more than one interview.  Leave time for the candidate to get to know the agency and create opportunities for the current team to meet them.  Seek feedback from current staff on their impressions of the candidate.
           

        Sample Interview Questions by Category

        Personality and Professionalism

        Who is the candidate is as a person and as a professional on your team?

        • Are they truthful and dependable?  Do they accept responsibility for their actions? Will they maintain confidentiality?
        • Will consumers like them? Are they respectful?
        • Are they collaborative and able to get along with other staff? 
        • Do they take initiative?
        • To what extent do they understand the requirements of the job?
        • Can they manage their time and keep up with paperwork (without being reminded)?
        • Do they care if reports are detailed and accurate or if they present themselves professionally?
        • Can they multi-task?  What tools do they use to stay on task?  Can they give examples?
        • Do they have a passion for working with older adults or the blind community?
        • Will they demonstrate commitment to the organization?

        Sample Interview Questions

        •    What do you think is the most important characteristic a person in this position should possess and what qualities that you have would make you a good candidate for the position?
        •    What interests you most about this position/this agency? Why do you feel you are the ideal candidate?  
        •    Tell us about your organizational abilities. What are current tools that you use in your work to help you stay organized?  
        •    This position requires a lot of independent work with some latitude for decision making. How would you stay on task and ensure your customer’s needs were being met?   
        •    This is a very autonomous position. Could you please talk about what qualities you think are necessary to work in such a way?
        •    What is your definition of “quality customer service”?
        •    You are scheduled to meet with a customer in their home to complete an application for OIB services. When you get there, the home is cluttered with multiple cats and dogs in the home, with an unpleasant smell coming from the home before you enter. How do you handle the situation?  
        •    Describe a time when you have had to defend an organization’s decision to others who did not agree with the decision, even when you did not agree with the decision either. SN (Only ask bulleted questions if needed.)  What was the specific situation? Why did you defend the decision? What did you say/do that was particularly effective? In hindsight, what would you have done differently?
        •    Scenario:  You have completed services and closed the case of a consumer who has a degenerative eye disease. You spent 6 months working very intensively with him and your rapport was beyond excellent due to common interests.  However, given the nature of his eye disease, you suspect in another few years, he will require additional services.  Then today he calls up and asks to take you out to lunch to thank you and says he would like it if you could be friends.  How would you handle his request?
         

        Other Demands of the Job

        Direct service positions often require more than just the ability to work with client.  Consider what other qualities or attributes the position will demand of a successful applicant.

        Does the applicant have access to a reliable vehicle?

        Do they have experience with the stresses of constant “windshield time” in all kinds of weather conditions?  

        Can they manage travel and case management duties, and communication with the agency/team?

        Can they use technology as required by the agency?

        Sample Questions
        •    This job requires extensive travel. Tell me about your transportation and ability to travel up to 500 miles per week?  
        •    IL/OIB counselors prepare case documentation and maintain records using a case management system. Describe your experience(s) maintaining consumer records and/or using a data based case management system.
        •    This position requires regular weekly travel to meet with consumers in their homes, referral sources, attend meetings along with completing office and case management duties. Describe a time when you've used time management methods to prioritize tasks so that appointments were kept, and deadlines were met.
        •    This position requires local/regional travel and requires visiting consumers where they live whether it be a private home, apartment or senior living institution. Please talk about how would feel about daily travel and your perceptions of what it would be like to serve people in their diverse home environments.
        •    Please describe your personal computer skills. What specific software systems and programs are you proficient in using?
         

        Teaching Experience

        OIB Program consumers deserve quality instruction.  What questions will uncover the candidate's ability to assess, plan for instruction, implement training, and evaluate outcomes.

        • Are they able to communicate clearly?
        • Can they break a client goal down into manageable steps?
        • How are they at evaluating progress and planning for the next instructional session?
        • Do they apply adult learning theory in all they do?

        Sample Questions
        •    Tell me about your experience teaching those with blindness, visual impairments, or those with other disabilities in completing activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning, reading, or other daily activities.  
        •    A fundamental job task of an Independent Living Counselor is providing instruction in the use of adaptive skills and methods for performing daily living activities. Please tell us about a time(s) you provided instruction to an individual and/ or groups of people.
        •    Describe an instance when planned work with a consumer went slower than anticipated causing you not to be finished at the expected time. How did you decide if you should stay later than planned and finish up or reschedule for another day?
        •    What special considerations or adaptations might you make when working with a senior? 
        •    Describe clients you have worked with who have multiple disabilities.  In what ways did you adapt to their specific needs?

        •    In this role you’re likely to be interacting with clients who have diverse backgrounds. Tell us about a time that you adapted your style in order to work effectively with those who were different from you?
        •    Do you have a teaching philosophy?
        •    Give an example of how you would work with a family member that does not support their loved one gaining independent skills.  
        •    Are you familiar with adult learning principles and if so, describe using one or more. 
        •    Please evaluate and list your teaching skill strengths.  
        •    Describe your comfort level in using technology. Have you taught technology to people with visual impairments or blindness? If so what kinds of technology.  
        •    Describe a lesson you taught where you felt particularly effective.  What techniques or strategies did you implement to make it a success for the consumer?
        •    Scenario:  A leader of a low vision support group for seniors calls and requests a 1 hour presentation on “Home Safety”.  
        o    What information might you want to gather from the leader before planning the presentation?
        o    What 3 points do you anticipate would be the most important and relevant to present to the group?
         

        Knowledge of Blindness Skills and Adjustment to Vision Loss

        Effective direct service professionals have a sound understanding of the impact of vision loss and what skills and strategies consumers will benefit from learning.

        • Will consumers learn the skills they need?
        • How will they read a situation and respond to consumer situations?
        • Does the candidate  show an understanding the emotions that occur when a consumer is adjusting to new vision loss? 
        • Is the candidate able to confidently articulate several strategies to motivate the consumer towards better engagement?

        Sample Questions
        •    Please describe your understanding of rehabilitation and include elements you think would be specific to working with older people.
        •    Describe a situation when you realized you lacked a skill that you needed to do a task. How did you know you needed to improve? 
        •    This job requires interpretation of medical reports, case documents, and other information to determine eligibility and complete assessments for consumers. Describe your experience interpreting information used to make choices regarding consumer services. 
        (The response may also include details about the candidate's ability to stay organized, complete documentation, and manage their time.)
        •    One of the services seniors can take advantage of in this program is called “A to B: Adjustment to Blindness” group training. This is an intensive, multiple week class where seniors learn alternative techniques to do their daily tasks, read, cook, use a white cane, pay bills, take medications, etc. Do you believe it’s feasible for seniors to learn a whole new skill set? Why or why not?
        •    Most adults acquire vision loss after a long life with good vision. With the loss of vision, older adults nearly always experience grief. Please describe what your approach would be in working with seniors who are dealing with grief. How do you motivate them towards adjusting to their loss?
        •    Scenario: You have a consumer who has returned for services a number of times. Each time, they have voiced a commitment to follow through on a plan for their rehabilitation. Each of the past interactions have ended with the consumer not following through on the plan. How would you try to change this dynamic?
        •    Scenario: You are with a consumer and they tell you, “my daughter made me see you, but I’m blind and I really think I would be better off just moving to a nursing home.” What would you do?
        •    One of the most effective ways to cope with vision loss and many other disabilities is to rely on what is called assistive technology. Please describe what you know about assistive technology.
        •    Scenario: You get a call from a senior who tells you that their neighbor recently saw you and received an expensive piece of adaptive equipment called a “reading machine”. The potential consumer tells you that they expect to get one as well and is very demanding about it. How would you handle that?
        •    What sorts of technology such as iphone apps or other electronic devices do you incorporate with your training?
        •    (For O&M candidates) Scenario:  You are just about to start your outdoor travel lesson with a client when she says in a very upset voice “My husband just doesn’t understand what it’s like to be blind!! He never puts things back in the right place after I ask him a million times”! What do you?
        •    Do you recommend a particular screen reader? Why or why not?
        •    How would instruct a student who had the use of the right hand, partial use of the left hand and mild hearing loss?
        •    What adaptive technology would you recommend for a student who is 45 yrs. old, a single parent, and who is losing vision due to Diabetic Retinopathy?
         

        Experience Working with Older Adults

        Older adults often have complex needs and may require a specialized instructional approach. 

        Will the candidate 

        • use language that indicates they are flexible and patient?  
        • prioritize communication and a client-centered approach?
        • have knowledge of relevant community resources such as Meals on Wheels, Area Agency on Aging etc.?

        Sample Questions
        •    Describe your experience in working with aging older adults. What might be important to consider with this population?
        •    Describe your knowledge of resources that are available to people who are aging.   
        •    Describe a situation where you had to ask questions and probe to clarify unexpressed or poorly communicated information from someone you’re working with.  (Only ask bulleted questions if needed.) What methods/types of communication skill did you use in this situation?  How do you build trust with a person who has difficulty expressing themselves? 
        •    Describe a time when you had to help a customer who was angry and upset. What types of communication methods do you prefer?  
        •    Tell us about an instance when during a meeting with a consumer, someone else such as a family member continued to speak up and answer questions and/or make statements for the consumer. What was your approach to handling this situation? (Red flag responses may be answers that are too harsh or not firm enough.)
        •    Being that this position is focused specifically on helping seniors adapt and adjust to vision loss, we do not provide services like housing supports, transportation or other kinds of senior assistance. Could you please describe what your understanding is of the other services that are available to seniors in this area?
        •    Scenario: You receive a referral from another senior services program. That provider seems to have inadvertently promised something to the customer that the Senior Services Unit doesn’t actually provide. How would you handle this?
        •    Vision loss is very frightening and as such consumers can sometimes be very demanding when seeking an initial appointment. How would you handle a consumer who is demanding an immediate visit from you even though you are scheduled three weeks out?
        •    What would you do if you encountered a client in a situation that you believed to be an unsafe living situation? How would you address possible elder abuse?
         

        Professional Judgement

        Scenario questions can help you discover how the candidate might react in complex situations.  

        • Does the candidate react with emotion or focus on positive actions and stay centered on client needs?
        • What did they notice would need further investigation?
        • What questions did they ask the consumer?
        • What did they indicate were the next steps to keep the case progressing?
        • What was their thought process?  What is their rationale?

        Sample Questions
        •    You are scheduled to meet with a customer in their home to complete an application for OIB services. When you get there, the home is cluttered with multiple cats and dogs in the home, with an unpleasant smell coming from the home before you enter. How do you handle the situation?  

        •    You receive a referral on a 65-year-old woman who lives alone.  She has age related macular degeneration.  She has been losing vision over the last five years and recently learned she can no longer drive.  She has some hearing loss and some balance problems which she has had for several years.  She has a cousin five years younger than herself living in the neighborhood and an adult son in the area.  She has adult daughters who live about 100 miles away.  She thought she was doing okay in her last apartment, but the rent went up, so she moved to a cheaper place.  Now she is having problems finding her mailbox as it is on a panel of similarly colored doors.  She cannot see to regulate the knobs on the stove, and since someone dropped her old microwave during the move, she had to get a new one and cannot see the buttons on the control panel.  In addition, she told you she used to love to read but cannot see to do that anymore. 
        o    Which of these problems would you address first?     Why?
        o    Which of these problems seems the most problematic for her to maintain her goal of long-term independence?   Why?
        o    How might tactile markings be used to help her identify her mailbox, stove temperatures, and microwave panel buttons?
        •    Scenario: You're making a home visit and notice that the consumer has a large amount of stuff “hoarded” in their home including items that would make the living situation dangerous to the health of the customer. What should you do?
         

        Community Outreach

        Raising awareness is a necessary aspect of OIB programs.

        Is the candidate able to articulate a number of strategies for outreaching to seniors and shows an enthusiasm for spreading the word about OIB services?

        •    Describe a time when you were able to use your contacts with other agencies in order to enhance the goals of the larger organization. What did you do to build your network of referral sources? What did you need to do in return?
        •    In order to ensure that seniors are aware of the services, we require our field staff to engage in outreach activities. Could you please talk about some outreach strategies you would use in this territory to ensure seniors are aware of these resources?
        •    Speaking to groups and presenting at local conferences is part of the position and important to the agency.  As a speaker, what sort of strategies do you use to attract and maintain a group’s attention?
         

        Case Managment

        Sample Questions

        •    As a client’s case manager, what subjects/areas would you include in their primary assessment report? 
        •    How would your supervisor rate your professional writing skills? How often do you believe case documentation should be done?
        •    You go to see a new customer that has been referred to you. You are meeting her at her home. Her name is Barbara Peters, and she says she was born on April 25, 1955. She reports she is retired and used to be a teacher. In talking with Barbara, she tells you she can no longer see the newspaper when she tries to read it, and has difficulty cooking, cleaning and is always worried about falling in her home. As you are talking, there is a knock at the glass front door. Barbara did not seem to know who was standing at the door until she heard the voice and then said, “That’s my neighbor Mary”. The neighbor asked her if she needed anything and Barbara said, “maybe later you can take me to my mailbox”. You noticed earlier that the mailbox is at the end of her sidewalk from the front door about 30 feet from her home.  Barbara tells you “I am scared to go out on my own anymore because I fell a couple of times off the sidewalk”. You ask Barbara how she has her lost vision, and she reports she doesn’t know. But she tells you that she has an appointment with Dr. Wong next week on Wednesday. In talking with Barbara, she tells you “I want to be able to read the newspaper and walk to get my mail”. Barbara also states that she does not know how to see what money she has, determine what color her clothes are, and she would like to be able to read books again. The meeting ends as you have to go see another customer that lives across town.  
        o    Please write a case note about your experience, services that Barbara may need and issues noted during the appointment, along with follow-up you need to do after meeting with Barbara.
         

        Leadership and Teamwork

        Sample Questions

        •    Give me an example of a policy or rule you disagreed with. What did you do? What would happen if the policy remained in place?  
        •    What happens to your work when you begin feeling pressured? How do you know stress is affecting your work and how do you resolve it? 
        •    What do you need from an organization to feel motivated? 
        •    When has your morale been the highest at work? Why? 
        •    What keeps you engaged with your work? 
        •    Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years? 
        •    Give an example of how you incorporated feedback into your job performance and how that helped you improve. 
        •    Describe the best supervisor you’ve ever had.  
        •    Describe a time when you experienced a conflict with a colleague.  How did you resolve the issue?  Would you do anything differently if a similar situation occurred in the future? 
        •    Describe a time when you were faced with an ethical dilemma in the workplace. For example, you discovered wrong-doing, or someone asked you to conceal something important. How did you deal with the situation and what would you do differently?
         

        For Candidates with a Complementary Background to Vision Rehabilitation

        With a national shortage of vision rehabilitation professionals, sometimes programs must interview candidates with the closest skillset or background.

        Sample Questions

        •    Describe your experience(s) working with people who have vision impairments or blindness. (This may include experiences from their personal lives, with former coworkers, family members or self).
        •    What are your career goals?  Describe the role of a Rehab Teacher.  Use this time to sell the applicant on the virtues of the agency based on what you learned about the applicant and ask:  How would this job fit in with these goals?  
        •    Tell me about your experiences with traveling outside of your office area to meet with people and provide services?   
        •    What types of things do you enjoy doing the most at work?       What things are least enjoyable to you at work?  
        •    Tell me about your experiences with traveling outside of your office area to meet with people and provide services?   How did (would) you prepare for the travel?   If you arrived only to discover they couldn’t meet – what activities would you do to make the time efficient and good use of the trip?
        •    Describe your experience in managing a caseload.  What strategies did you use?  How did those make you more effective in your past or current job?  How do you manage numerous responsibilities at one time?   
        •    What is your knowledge or experience working with people with disabilities? What knowledge or experience do you have with vision loss and blindness?  
         

        Orientation and Mobility Instructor

        • Scenario Question:  You have been working with a client for 2 months.  This client has been diagnosed with glaucoma and nystagmus along with Bipolar Disorder as an additional disability.  The client also reports low muscle tone in his arms and legs. However, you have never seen the client experience fatigue out on a lesson, even when walking and using a white cane for 6+ blocks.  Often, the client uses a wheelchair to ride public transportation, but does not ever take the wheelchair out on O&M lessons.  When asked about the wheelchair, the client gets extremely frustrated.  He reports that he acquired it on his own and that it was not recommended by a doctor.  He reports using it so that he doesn't get hurt when riding the bus, which he describes as frequently stopping, going and jerking around passengers.  How would you address the wheelchair use with the client?  What recommendations would you make to the client?
        • Please describe your experience in using GPS devices and navigational apps as part of your instruction.  Please describe your VoiceOver experience in using navigational apps as well.
        • A client you are working with who is blind is veering a lot during lessons.  What might be causing the veer?  What would be your teaching points to address it?
        • Situational Question: You are finishing with a client who has been successful in training and getting a job. You have enjoyed working with them and also have a lot in common. As training is now complete, and their case with DVR is closing successfully, the client wishes to stay in touch and get together from time to time because they consider you a friend as well as a teacher.  How would you go about the next phase of your relationship with this person?
        • “Describe a simple picture or object to a partner (under blindfold) and have them draw it.” You will have approximately 8 minutes to complete this exercise.
        • What techniques do you use when dealing with a challenging client (i.e. one that is demanding or does not want to follow your recommendations and/or one that is not using/practicing the skills you are teaching)?
        • What are two causes of vision loss associated with a person who has low vision? What are specific concerns and modifications that need to be addressed when teaching individuals with these conditions?
        • Scenario Question: You have a client who refuses to use a white cane, although she needs one for safe travel. What are some strategies you would use in this situation?