​​​Getting Hired​

The Lime Network​

Acing the Interview

The traditional face-to-face interview can be particularly stressful when you have a disability, especially a visible disability. Hiring managers and employers may have had little prior experience with persons with disabilities and may react with discomfort or even shock to the appearance of a wheelchair, cane or an unusual physical trait. When this happens, the interviewer is often so uncomfortable that he or she just wants to “get it over with” and conducts the interview in a hurried manner. But this scenario robs you of the opportunity to present your credentials and could prevent the employer from identifying a suitable, qualified candidate for employment.

It is essential that you understand that interviewing is not a passive process where the interviewer asks all the questions and you simply provide the answers. You, even more than app​licants without disabilities, must be skilled in handling each interview in order to put the employer representative at ease. You must also be able to demonstrate your ability to manage your disability and be prepared to provide relevant information about your skills, experiences, and educational background. You may have to inform the employer of the equipment, tools and resources needed to perform the job.

To Disclose or Not to Disclose

To disclose or not to disclose, and when and how to disclose, are decisions that persons with disabilities must make for

themselves during the job search process.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you are not legally obligated to disclose your disability unless it is likely to directly affect your job performance. On the other hand, if your disability is visible, it will be evident at the time of your interview so it may be more prudent to acknowledge your disability during the application process to avoid catching the employer representative off guard.

Reasons for Disclosing

You take a risk when you decide to disclose your disability. Some employers may reject your application based on negative, preconceived ideas about persons with disabilities. In addition, you may feel that the issue is too personal to be publicized among strangers. On the other hand, if you provide false answers about your health or disability on an application and the truth is uncovered later, you risk losing your job. You may even be held legally responsible if you failed to inform your employer and an accident occurs that is related to your disability.

Timing the Disclosure

The employer’s first contact with you will typically be through your cover letter and résumé, especially if you initially contacted the organization. There are many differing opinions on whether one should mention the disability on the résumé or in the cover letter. If you are comfortable revealing your disability early in the process, then give careful consideration to where the information is placed and how it is

stated. The cover letter and résumé should primarily outline relevant skills, experiences and education for the position for which you are applying. The reader should have a clear understanding of your suitability for the position. Therefore, if you choose to disclose your disability, the disclosure should be brief and placed near the end of the cover letter and résumé. It should never be the first piece of information that the employer sees. The information should also reveal your ability to manage your disability while performing required job functions.

​When You Get the Interview

As stated earlier, it may not be wise to hide the disability (especially a visible disability) until the time of the interview. The employer representative may be surprised, uncomfortable, or assume that you intentionally hid critical information. As a result, more time may be spent asking irrelevant and trivial questions because of nervousness, rather than focusing on your suitability for the position. Get assistance from contacts in human resources and/or your career center about the different ways to prepare the interviewer for your arrival. Take the time to rehearse what you will say before making the initial contact. If oral communication is difficult for you, have a career services professional place the call for you and explain how you plan to handle the interview. If you require support for your interview, contact human resources in advance to arrange for this assistance. Advance preparation shows that you can manage your affairs.

Source: “Students with Disabilities” by Rosita Smith ​