The Accessible Workplace: How to Discuss Your Disability in an Interview
By: AJE Recruiting Specialist
Interview preparation is a necessary and sometimes difficult task for many job applicants. Whether you are participating in your first or twenty-fist interview, preparation is a core essential of the job search process. For those with accessibility issues in particular, along with prepping for the standard interview questions, you should also understand how – or if at all – to discuss your disability in an interview, and what a prospective employer can or cannot address.
While every employer may broach the subject of disabilities differently, all employers must adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The foundation of the ADA makes it unlawful for any employer to discriminate against a qualified job applicant with a disability – baring that the applicant meets the employer's requirements for the job including education, training, experiences, skills or licenses (if necessary).
You should also be aware of what the ADA defines as disability. This includes:1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits you, 2) having any record or history of a substantially limiting impairment, or 3) an impairment the employer regards as substantially limiting to job performance.
If you do have a disability that falls within these categories; however, you are not required to disclose it verbally or in writing. And you do not need to outline any disability in your cover letter or on your resume. In fact, it’s best to determine during the interview process itself whether or not to broach the topic of your disability at all.
For instance, questions about medications you take or other therapies you participate in should not be broached – by you and or any employer. Conversely, not disclosing a disability that may limit your ability in meeting the job requirements being outlined, or may impact the safety of co-workers is not recommended. If you are hired and your disability impedes your ability to perform your job – or may cause harm to yourself or others, this will impact you in the long run.
The best approach is to discuss all the requirements of the job during the interview, and at that point determine if your disability impedes in any way your ability to perform the job. The employer has the right to address any questions pertaining to your ability to perform tasks, and should your disability be addressed, any adjustments that may need to be made – including costs. And you have the right to request accommodations at this time as well.
Every employer and every situation is unique, and your willingness or need to disclose your disability will need to be made on a case–by–case basis. The best approach is to be aware of ADA regulations, prepared to discuss your disability – if necessary, and be confident in positioning yourself as a viable candidate if you meet the education and skills requirement of the job.