Making the Right Impression: Interview Etiquette Tips for People with Disabilities

The above picture is of a man dressed in a black suit with his hand extended and ready to shake another person's hand.

Making the Right Impression: Interview Etiquette Tips for PWDs

Congratulations, you landed the interview! The unemployment rate of People with Disabilities is higher than the national average. You’ve beaten the first obstacle and by getting your foot in the door.

But, what now? How can you prepare for the interview?

Interview etiquette is a very important skill for any applicant. The way you look, speak, and act matters. If you can master a professional and friendly interview persona, you’re golden.

Luckily, it’s a lot easier than you think. Keep reading for the most important interview etiquette tips.

1. Come Prepared

The first step to interview etiquette is being prepared. Bringing everything you’ll need shows you’re organized and on the ball.

Bring a copy of your resume. Even if you sent one online, bring another copy. You should also have a list of your references.

Consider bringing a notepad and pen to take notes. Not only does this help you remember key information, but it also looks professional. Taking notes shows you’re interested and organized.

Always turn your phone to silent before the interview. Don’t wait until you’re sitting down with the interviewer to do this. Be prepared and do it before you walk in.

2. Dress the Part

The position you’re applying for might have a dress code or a uniform. Either way, come to the interview looking clean and put-together.

Pick out a clean and ironed pair of pants and a collared shirt. Or, a simple pencil skirt and blazer. The key is to make your outfit professional, but not show-stealing.

Your clothes shouldn’t distract from your personality. They should complement it by showing you have good hygiene and know how to present yourself.

Even if the role you’re applying for is in the trades or a factory, look professional. Not necessarily formal and definitely not casual. A happy middle ground usually makes the best interview outfit.

3. The Right Introduction

When you’re waiting in the lobby for your interview, review your introduction. You want to present yourself with confidence and approachability.

One way of doing this is to stand up whenever a new person approaches, like the interviewer, and shake their hand. There’s a lot of information on what makes a good handshake. In summary, you want to be firm yet comfortable.

Perhaps more important than the handshake is eye contact. Many of us hesitate to make eye contact with new people. But, doing so shows you’re confident, approachable, and friendly.

If you’re sitting down when the interviewer comes in, stand up. Make eye contact, shake their hand, and introduce yourself.

4. Interview Body Language

Did you know that communication is 55 percent body language? The way you sit, fidget, and your facial expression says a lot. Even if your words are perfect, your body language could be screaming unsure and anxious.

Practice sitting comfortably in your chair. Feet flat down, posture straight. Relax your hands on your lap or the table.

Don’t be afraid to smile. Interviewers are looking for people that will do the job, but also be a pleasure to work with. Smiles denote confidence and warmth.

One of the worst things you can do during an interview is slouch down in your seat. Looking unengaged tells the interviewer that you’re not serious about the job. 

5. Patience in Silence

Many of us have the habit of running the conversation. When awkward silences happen, we feel the pressure to fill it. In your interview, don’t.

Practice patience for your interview. Silences happen, they might be writing down a note or thinking. You can even take a few moments to think about how you want to answer a question.

Avoid filling the silence with babbling and rants. Let the interviewer lead the conversation.

Another habit many of us are guilty of is interrupting. Sometimes, you get so excited by the topic that you want to jump in before your turn. Practice allowing whoever you’re speaking with to finish, and then respond.

6. Ask Questions

There comes a time in every interview when they ask if you have questions. If you want this job, you should prepare a couple of questions.

This is a chance to display your interest in the position and learn more. Consider asking what a typical day for someone in this role is like. What’s the company culture like?

What is the career path the person in this role usually takes?

Consider reading up on the recent news of the company. If they’ve achieved something great lately, ask about it. Keep your questions positive, engaged, and genuine.

7. Follow Up

Interview etiquette doesn’t end when the interview does. It continues the next day when you follow-up.

This company could potentially have hundreds of applicants for the role you want. You need to stand out among the others. One way to do that is to follow up with your gratitude and a reminder of who you are.

You can do this in a few different ways. You could send a note through the mail, call them, or send an email. Whichever you choose, start with gratitude.

Express how you appreciate the opportunity to interview for this position. Remind them of how this job aligns with your experience and/or interests.

Restate anything the interviewer said that resonated with you. Perhaps it made you realize how perfect you are for the position. Or you feel you align with the values of the company.

Sign off with your contact information. Keep it concise, polite, and professional.

Interested in Learning More Interview Etiquette Tips?

Interviews can be a nerve-racking event, but they’re necessary to gain employment. Simply getting an interview is a huge feat to celebrate.

Make sure you practice your interview etiquette before the big day. Rehearse what you want to say and choose what you’ll wear.

People with Disabilities represent a large part of unemployment statistics. If you’re struggling to find a job, check out The Premier National Job Board for People with Disabilities. Your new career is only an application and an interview away.