Interviewing Appropriately: A Business’ Guide to Prospecting People with Disabilities
If you’ve decided to begin taking advantage of a hugely untapped workforce and interview people with disabilities for your open positions, good for you! The important thing to remember, though, is that the interview process should really be no different than any other prospecting interview.
Keep the following in mind when interviewing a person with a disability.
Make eye contact
This is a critical component of the interview process. Just as you would with any interviewee, maintain eye contact. This includes interviews with candidates who may have a visible physical disability. Your focus should be on the person, not on the disability. This also applies in cases of someone utilizing a wheelchair. Make sure that you’re seated at an equal level to maximize your interaction.
Direct conversation to the interviewee
Particularly in cases in which an interpreter or support staff is being used, this one might be easy to forget. But no matter who else is in the room, make sure to direct your conversation to the interviewee, rather than anyone else. This is the candidate you’re interviewing, so make your first communication a positive, engaging one.
Maintain personal space
When a person with a disability utilizes equipment or a service animal, make sure that you maintain a level of awareness of personal space. Don’t lean on or touch the candidate’s wheelchair or other devices or equipment – even if your intent is to provide assistance – unless asked to do so. Same goes for service animals, who are trained specifically to assist the owner – don’t pet, interact with or pay any noticeable attention to the animal, as it could be seen as disrespectful.
Speaking of respect, remember that regardless of the person’s disability, this job prospect deserves to be spoken to in a professional manner that you use with all of your candidates for employment. Don’t raise your voice or slow down your cadence of speaking unless requested by the interviewee, and make sure to listen attentively without interrupting to acknowledge that the conversation is two-way, when applicable.
The key point is this – everyone deserves an equally respectful, professional interview, so don’t modify your approach on this individual basis. Treat every candidate equally to show you are truly an inclusive employer. Questions? Let us help you prospect!
Sources: U.S. Department of Labor