Accessible Interviewing Practices for Candidates with Disabilities

Job interviews are a crucial step in the selection process which helps organizations identify the right candidate. Unfortunately, common interviewing strategies are often not aligned with best practices and can create systemic barriers for otherwise highly qualified candidates. 

People with disabilities report many accessibility and inclusivity challenges within interviews. As organizations make the move towards more inclusive interviewing practices, it becomes increasingly important to reflect, and act on making interviews more accessible for candidates with disabilities.

Laws and regulations, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Accessible Canada Act, provide guidelines for organizations to ensure an accessible and equitable hiring process is upheld. By definition, a disability is any impairment (cognitive, physical, sensory, mental, intellectual, learning, communication) or functional limitation, which in interaction with barriers, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society. 22-26% of the North American population has one or more disabilities. 

Many people with disabilities are striving and eager to work. To engage with this highly overlooked talent pool, organizations and hiring managers are encouraged to focus on the technical and professional skills, as well as the knowledge and abilities of a successful candidate. 

This strategy will result in more accurate, job-relevant and fair results rather than relying on first impressions, stereotypes and our own understanding of what the ideal candidate ‘looks like.’ 

As hiring managers or HR professionals, there is a lot you can do to ensure that all candidates can participate in the interview process on an equal basis. The following tips will help you make your interviews more accessible for candidates with disabilities.

Tips to make your interviews more accessible for candidates with disabilities: 

1. Prepare for the interview. 

The pre-interview stage is when you can set your candidates up for success. This can include selecting an interview location which is easily accessible, quiet and free of distractions. You can also consider conducting virtual interviews as they are often preferred by candidates with disabilities. Next, you should be providing information about the interview’s location, what to do when they arrive, the interview process and any other relevant details ahead of time.

Although organizations cannot ask candidates to disclose any disabilities, you can support your candidates by including a statement like: “We at [XXX] are committed to providing access for all candidates. Persons with disabilities who anticipate needing accommodations for any part of the application/interview process may contact [XXX] for support.” 

2. Prioritize reasonable accommodations and adjustments. 

You should be prepared to address any reasonable accommodation requests you receive from candidates. For example, you may need to provide an ASL interpreter for a deaf candidate or ensure a quiet interview space for a candidate with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Further, candidate availability might depend on personal care workers, Paratransit, and medications so ensure flexibility in interview scheduling. 

Check out the American Psychological Association’s suggestions and the University of Oxford’s tips for interviewing candidates with different disabilities. 

3. Focus on job-relevance. 

The interview process is highly susceptible to bias. BSo, by preparing a standardized interview process with prepared questions, you are on track to creating fair interviews. Use structured behavioral and situational questions during the interview for a valid assessment. When interviewing any candidate, consider how their professional experiences and skills are related to explicit job requirements. Check out Hireguide’s resources to help you evaluate candidates effectively. 

4. Don’t assume ability. 

Your candidate is the expert on their disability. They have adjusted to a life and society which was not systematically designed for them. This means that they are likely able to perform job tasks in ways which you would not anticipate. So, don’t assume their ability to perform a task. Instead, just ask the candidate how they would go about doing the task. 

5. Offer breaks. 

If an interview process is long, many candidates may require a break. It is good practice to offer breaks or suggest that candidates can ask for a break when they need.

6. Address your biases and adjust your expectations.

We are all biased in one way or another. When it comes to disability, it is important to confront any biases, stereotypes and misinformation you might hold. Recognizing your bias will help you override it with facts and job-relevant information. 

We also have certain expectations for job interviews like firm handshakes and maintaining eye contact. These ‘people skills’ may not be available for all candidates and that’s okay. Not every position requires such skills and by considering the job’s essential requirement and not your personal social preferences, you are making the hiring process more inclusive. 

Interested in built-in accessible interviewing best practices?

Hireguide’s evidence-based questions, templates, answer guides and overall interview flow can easily help you create an accessible interview experience for all candidates. Schedule a free demo today to start making better, fairer, data-driven decisions! 

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