Hiring People with Disabilities: The Interview Part I

  • You’ve decided to recruit people with disabilities and have gone through the process of preparing your staff, committing to company values that uphold diversity and inclusion, you’ve created a job ad and successfully recruited a number of candidates.  Now it is time to start the interview process.

    It’s important that those interviewing the candidates are well prepared to make sure they’re comfortable with disability issues.  You can contact agencies like EmployAbilities and other companies who frequently hire persons with disabilities to see if your interviewers can participate in mock interviews.  Not only will this help them, it will help other people with disabilities the opportunity to practise their interview skills with a real employer.

    You can also ask EmployAbilities to come talk to your employees about the sensitivity of disability issues.  We would be happy to help prepare your staff and expose any myths or assumptions they might have about hiring people with a disability.

    Things to remember when meeting your candidate:

    A person with a disability is a person first.  Focus on their unique qualities and skills and do not refer to their disability unless it is relevant to the conversation.

    Remember that a person with a disability is not looking for your sympathy.  They’re just living a regular life like anyone else and see the open position as a job, not a gift.

    Do not make assumptions on what your candidate can or cannot do and don’t try to come to conclusions on how you would do it if you had the disability.

    When you meet them, don’t fumble over yourself to offer them help.  If they need help with something because of their disability they will ask for it.  When they do ask for it, let them tell you specific how they need your help.

    Treat every candidate as an individual.  No all deaf people know sign language, not all blind people read Braille and not every physically disabled person needs a wheelchair.  Two people with the same disability might require different accommodations and you’ll have to respond to each person according to their needs.

    Remember to give people with disabilities the same respect, dignity and courtesy you would anyone else.  Remember that adults are adults so make sure you don’t patronize them by speaking to them as children, patting them on the head or any other impolite gesture.

    Stay tuned for the next blog where we’ll review the appropriate interview questions.  What to ask and more importantly, what NOT to ask!

    For more information about hiring a person with disabilities, contact EmployAbilities at  (780) 423-4106 or email
    employ@employabilities.ab.ca