Getting hired as a person with a disability might be easier than it has ever been before. The reason why? COVID-19. With so many businesses seeking employees, employers everywhere are finally opening up to the possibility of tapping into the disability workforce.
Your employment future is up to you. Where do you want to work? What do you really want to do? Job options are more varied and flexible than they’ve even been before. It’s time to dream big. Imagine a career that sets you free financially. Once you’ve decided on the job you want, job interviews are next.
As a person with a SCI/disability, going into a job interview can be nerve-wracking. You never know how the person conducting the interview will react to your disability. To help you nail the interview, here are some interview tips that are sure to help.
Make Sure the Interview Location is Accessible
If you’re showing up to the interview in-person, you must make sure the location is acceptable. Despite the ADA, there are many older buildings throughout the country that are grandfathered in due to their age, and are therefore not accessible. If you’re worried about disclosing your disability, you can find out if the building is accessible by showing up the location a day earlier to see if there is a ramp or elevator.
Research the Position and Company
Some of the most important advice we can give you is to research the company or business you are interviewing for, as well as the position thoroughly. You want to sound as knowledgeable as possible about the business and position throughout the interview. A good way to catch yourself up to speed on the business is to read everything on their website and social media.
As for the position, when the interview is taking place they are going to ask you several questions about how you will conduct various tasks that the position requires. You’ll want to make sure you are prepared for these questions, especially if you need to discuss if you will be doing them differently to suit your abilities.
Prepare to Discuss Work History
This may be a standard interview tip, but being able to competently discuss your entire work history without having to “think on it” is a must if any viable candidate for a position. So before going into the interview, look over your resume to remind yourself of past positions, including tasks and years when you held the position.
Never Associate Your Disability with Your Weakness
There may be times throughout the interview where the interviewer will ask you if you have any weaknesses that you would like to improve on. If you are asked this question, never mention your disability as one of your weaknesses. Not only is this the truth, you do not want to shed a negative light on your disability, as this will not enhance your chances of getting the job.
When you have a disability and you’re going into a job interview, you need to be as confident as possible. You never know the mindset of the interviewer, whether they are comfortable around people with disabilities or not, or if they’ve never known anyone with a disability personally or not, so you never know what position you are working from. This is why it is not only important to be confident, but to be upbeat and positive as well.
Disclose (Or Don’t)
First and foremost, you are under no obligation to disclose your disability. One of the most important rights under the ADA is that an employer cannot ask you if you have a disability during an interview. It is completely up to you to disclose whether or not you have a disability. They are sometimes where disclosing your disability may be an advantage, and of course there are times where it may be a disadvantage.
We invite you to gauge the situation and to disclose at your behest. The good news is that having a disability is looked at as a positive trait than ever before, especially by larger corporations looking to create a more diverse workforce. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with not disclosing, and simply showing up to the interview with your wheelchair in full effect. Many people have done this and have still gotten the job
Prepare to Discuss Your Disability
If you decide to disclose your disability, you’ll need to be prepared to discuss it with the interviewer. It is a good idea to practice what you will say before the interview, including how you’ll describe your disability and anything more you would like to say about it. We recommend not talking about how it limits you, but instead focusing on the positive; for example how it has made you a fighter or a person who thinks out-of-the-box.
Provide Letter of Recommendation
Not only should you bring your resume into the interview and a positive attitude, you should also bring a letter of recommendation from someone from your employment or educational past, or even someone impressive from your personal past. A letter of recommendation that takes notice of the interviewer and truly impresses them will really work to your advantage in getting the job.
Practice Makes Perfect
We’ve already mentioned this above, but practicing before the interview with someone in-person will put you at a great advantage for your actual interview. Recruit a friend, family member or significant other, and give them a list of questions you think you will likely get from the interviewer and have them ask you the questions. They may not be able to thoroughly say how you did, but it will at least prepare your mind for what you will say for the interview.
After the interview, make sure to email the interviewer and thank them for the interview and considering you for the position. You want to appear as professional and polite as possible so you can give one of the best impressions they’ve ever had during a job interview. Unfortunately, sometimes having a disability will put you at a disadvantage, and doing everything, like the follow-up after the interview, will help.
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