How to Talk About Your Disability During a Job Interview
The above picture is a collage of disability signs.
How to Talk About Your Disability During a Job Interview
61 million adults in the United States live with some kind of disability. This means that 61 million adults in the United States are entitled to disability accommodations as stated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, it's evident that fewer people in the United States actually apply for and get approved for these accommodations.
The truth is that people in the United States are scared to talk about their disabilities in job interviews. They may think that they'll get rejected or be treated poorly.
Whatever the reasoning, it's preventing people from getting the accommodations they deserve.
If you have a disability and you're trying to figure out how to bring it up in your upcoming job interview, keep reading.
It's Your Choice
Before you walk into your job interview, you need to think about whether or not you truly want to bring up your disability in your job interview. It is completely your choice.
In fact, because of the American with Disabilities Act, it's illegal for employers to ask about your disability. They cannot ask any questions that would even lead you to tell them about a disability. If you find that an employer is doing this, you should report them to the Equal Employment Opportunity Office.
That being said, bringing up your disability may be valuable in some positions.
Put a Positive Spin on Things
If you feel that revealing your disability could improve your chances of getting the position, it may be worth it to talk about some of the more positive aspects of disabilities. This means that you should focus on the things that having a disability gives you rather than takes from you.
There are several skills that having a disability can teach you. All of these skills are transferrable to your role as an employee:
- Adapting to change
- Time management
- The ability to handle being under pressure
- Communication skills
- Diversity awareness
Sit down and think about all of the lessons and values that having a disability has brought you. Bring these up as strengths in your interview. This won't even give the interviewer room to think about the negatives.
Make Your Disability Part of Your Story
Frame your disability as an antagonist in your story rather than a hinderance in your entire life. When you're talking about struggles and triumphs, talk about how your disability gave you both.
You're standing (or sitting) strong today because you got through every single thing that was thrown at you. Don't undersell your disability. Show it as an obstacle that you overcome every single day (even on the bad days).
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are eligible for accommodations in the workplace, given that they are reasonable. Accommodations may be the exact reason that you want to bring your disability up in the interview.
If you've already decided to bring your disability up in an interview, your employer may ask about what reasonable accommodations you may request. These could include screen-reading software, magnifaction, a standing desk, bathroom breaks as needed, or something else.
Be sure to review the Department of Labor's accommodation policies and suggestions. You might find accommodations that you didn't know you were entitled to as an employee in the United States.
Support Them as They Support You
As you're doing your research on reasonable accommodations, you should look into how you can support your workplace right back. How can you make the transition easy for them just like they're doing for you, assuming that you get hired?
Do your research. See if you can find government grants for accommodations. Help your employer and coworkers understand your disability more, especially if it's not a well-known one.
Talk about and thank them for how well they're supporting you.
On the other hand, speak up if you're not being supported well. Could they be doing something better?
If you have a concern, don't be afraid to bring it up. You could be helping someone else in the workplace with a disability, too. You could also be helping the workplace accommodate to individuals like you in the future.
Overall, remember that this is a learning experience for both sides. Take things in strides and don't feel like you're alone.
Whenever you're feeling lost, talk to a member of the HR staff or have a conversation with a higher-up.
Focus on Your Skills
Your disability should not take over the entire interview. While you should use your disability as a learning experience and a potential inspiration for your line of work, you should not talk about it the entire interview.
Show that you have a life beyond being swept away by a chronic illness. Allow the interviewer to ask you about your educational experiences and personal interests.
Just as anyone else would do, you should round yourself out as a person. Show off everything that you've done, learned, and enjoyed over the years. Don't focus on one aspect of yourself.
If you aren't comfortable talking about something, don't. If the interviewer asks a question that you don't want to answer, don't.
You should never share too much than you're comfortable with. Never let the interviewer make you feel like you have to answer a question.
Politely decline, change the topic, or give a surface-level answer that doesn't invade the privacy that you want to keep.
You are the gatekeeper to your information. You have the right to share some things while concealing other things.
Go Job Hunting
Now that you have all of the information that you need to go into your job interview with confidence, it's time to go job hunting. If you're feeling a little lost on where to look, feel free to check out our list of jobs here.
Our team is dedicated to helping people like you get the jobs they want as well as the jobs they deserve. With our services, you can find a fair salary and find a position that suits you well.
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