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How to Discuss Disability in an Interview

By: Recruiting Specialist

How to Discuss Disability in an Interview

Interview preparation is a necessary and sometimes difficult task not only for job applicants, but also for many employers. Whether you are participating in your first or twenty-fist interview, preparation is a core essential of the hiring process. As a potential employer, discussing disability in an interview, especially with candidates with special accessibility requirements, should be well understood and prepared for along with what you can or cannot address. More importantly, it is essential that you, as a potential employer, not fall for myths and keep an open mind when interviewing candidates.

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 – barring 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 the applicant has a disability that falls within these categories, they are not required to disclose it verbally or in writing. They do not need to outline any disability in their cover letter or on your resume. In fact, it’s best to determine during the interview process itself, by the applicant, whether or not to broach the topic of the disability at all.

For instance, questions about medications taken or other therapies participated in should not be broached – by you and or any applicant. Conversely, not disclosing a disability that may limit the applicant’s ability in meeting the job requirements being outlined, or may impact the safety of co–workers is not recommended. If the applicant is hired and their disability impedes their ability to perform the job – or may cause harm to themselves or others, it will impact them in the long run.

The best approach is to discuss all the requirements of the job during the interview, and at that point for the applicant to determine if their disability impedes in any way their ability to perform the job. You, as an employer, have the right to address any questions pertaining to their ability to perform tasks, and should their disability be addressed, any adjustments that may need to be made – including costs. The applicant has the right to request accommodations at this time as well.

Every employer and every situation is unique, and the applicant’s willingness or need to disclose their disability will need to be made on a case–by–case basis. The best approach is to be aware of ADA regulations, be prepared to discuss a disability – if necessary, and be confident in positioning yourself as a viable employer if the applicant meets the education and skills requirement of the job.

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