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Interview Advice

Disability? To Discuss or Not to Discuss in an Interview

Most people in New York have enough to be concerned about when preparing for the interview for the job of their dreams. If you have a disability, this task becomes even more complicated as you attempt to discern if you should bring up your disability and if so, how to do so.

If your disability is something that will affect your job in any way, you need to address it. It is particularly important to address it if you will need “reasonable accommodations” in any way or any area of the job. So how do you approach this need in the interview process, especially if your disability is not obvious?

As you ponder this as part of your interview preparation, it is important to understand what your interviewer legally can and cannot discuss in an interview. Every employer has to abide by the regulations of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  In following these laws and regulations, the employer is not allowed to discriminate against “a qualified job applicant with a disability” if that person meets the job requirements including experience, education, training, skills and any required certifications or licenses.

However the Americans with Disabilities Act actually defines what a disability is and yours must meet these standards to provide you with the protection of this law. The ADA defines a disability as: “A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits you; a record or history of a substantially limiting impairment or impairment the employer regards as substantially limiting to job performance.”

The law also states that you do not have to disclose this disability to the prospective employer. It is really up to you to decide while in the interview whether to bring it up or not.

What to Share/What not to Share

So what is reasonable to share during the interview and what isn’t?

Do Not Share: Medications you are taking even if you think they might impact the company’s drug screening policy. You should share that with the drug screener at the test, not with the hiring manager in the interview.

Therapies you are undertaking to help with pain or functionality also should not be shared in the interview process as you will need to arrange for those therapies to be after work hours. A reasonable accommodation might be possible, but you would discuss it at after you have been hired.

Do Share: Anything associated with your disability that could impede your ability to do the job without causing harm to yourself or anyone else.

The right way to go is to listen closely in the interview and discuss in depth with the interviewer all the requirements of the job and the physical requirements that go along with them. As you are doing this you can decide whether or not your disability is in anyway impacted by these requirements.

This is when you can disclose your disability and allow the interviewer to ask questions in order to determine your ability to meet these requirements and perform the job duties with or without any reasonable accommodation.

Keep in mind that you have the right to ask for those reasonable accommodations.