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Planning the Interview Day

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Planning the Interview Day: Guidance for Candidates with Disabilities

APPLICANTS WITH DISABILITIES

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the University to provide reasonable accommodation to qualified individuals with disabilities who are employees or applicants for employment, except when such accommodation would cause an undue hardship.

The ADA also establishes rules about "disability-related inquiries," which consist of a question or series of questions that are likely to solicit information about a disability. The ADA limits an employer's ability to make disability-related inquiries at three stages. First, the ADA prohibits all disability-related inquiries before an offer of employment, even if they are related to the job. Next, after an applicant is given a conditional job offer, but before he/she starts work, an employer may make disability-related inquiries and conduct medical examinations, regardless of whether they are related to the job, as long as it does so for all entering employees in the same job category. Finally, after employment begins, an employer may make disability-related inquiries and require medical examinations only if they are job-related and consistent with business necessity.

For assistance arranging a reasonable accommodation for an applicant or employee, please contact either the assistant director for compliance and disability services in the Office of Institutional Equity by calling 47253 or the employee relations administrator in Human Resources by calling 40269. The Office of Institutional Equity is also available to provide education on the ADA.

TIPS ON INTERVIEWING APPLICANTS WITH DISABILITIES

In light of the ADA, an individual may wonder what questions may and may not be asked when interviewing an applicant with a disability. In addition, committees are often unsure of "disability etiquette" when interacting with individuals with disabilities. These guidelines are provided to help committees in the interviewing process and to enhance communication skills of committees when interacting with prospective employees with disabilities.

…WHEN INTERVIEWING AN APPLICANT WITH ANY DISABILITY

First, ensure that interviews, presentations, lodging and dining arrangements are mobility accessible. Use the term “accessible parking?rather than “handicapped parking.

Before an offer of employment is made, do not ask an applicant questions regarding:

  • the existence of a disability;
  • the nature of a disability;
  • the severity of a disability;
  • the condition causing the disability;
  • any prognosis or expectation regarding the condition or disability; or
  • whether the individual will need treatment or special leave because of the disability.

…WHEN INTERACTING WITH AN APPLICANT WITH A DISABILITY

  • Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
  • If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
  • Do not refer to an individual by his or her disability, i.e. “that deaf guy?or “the one legged woman.?A person is not a condition. Instead, you may want to say “he has a hearing impairment,?or “he is deaf,?or “she has a mobility impairment.
  • Do not emphasize disability over other characteristics when describing a person with a disability. It is okay to say that a person uses a wheelchair. Especially when dealing with questions of parking and making accommodations. Just don’t make it the major emphasis of what the person has to offer when dealing with people individually.
  • Be considerate of the extra time that it may take a person with a disability to perform a major life activity.
  • Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish.
  • Never pretend to understand; instead repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.
  • Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. If you make a mistake and offend someone, apologize.
  • Relax. People with disabilities are people first.

…WHEN INTERVIEWING AN APPLICANT WHO USES A WHEELCHAIR

  • Do not lean on the wheelchair.
  • Do not be embarrassed to use such phrases as "Let's walk over to the auditorium."
  • Do not push the wheelchair unless asked to do so.
  • Make sure you get on the same eye level with the applicant if the conversation lasts more than a couple of minutes.
  • Keep accessibility in mind. (Is that chair in the middle of your office a barrier to a wheelchair user? If so, move it aside.)

…WHEN INTERVIEWING AN APPLICANT WHO HAS A VISUAL IMPAIRMENT

  • Do not be embarrassed to use such phrases as "Do you see what I mean?"
  • Do not shout.
  • Do not touch an applicant's cane. Do not touch a guide dog when it is in harness. In fact, resist the temptation to pet a guide dog.
  • Identify yourself and others present immediately; cue a handshake verbally or physically.
  • When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking.
  • Use verbal cues; be descriptive in giving directions. ("The table is about five steps to your left.")
  • Verbalize chair location or place the person's hand on the back of the chair, but do not place the person in the chair.
  • Keep doors either opened or closed; a half-opened door is a serious hazard.
  • Offer assistance in travel; let the applicant grasp your left arm, usually just above the elbow.

…WHEN INTERVIEWING AN APPLICANT WHO IS DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING

  • Do not shout.
  • In order to get the attention of a person with a hearing impairment, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand.
  • Enunciate clearly. If the applicant is lip reading, keep your mouth clear of obstructions and place yourself where there is ample lighting. Keep in mind that an accomplished lip reader will be able to clearly understand 30 to 35 percent of what you are saying.
  • Keep in mind an applicant may also relay somewhat on facial expressions or other body language to help in understanding.
  • If you do not understand what the applicant is telling you, do not pretend you did. Ask the candidate to repeat the sentence(s).
  • Consider using written notes if you are having difficulty communicating.
  • If requested, use a sign language interpreter. Keep in mind that the interpreter's job is to translate, not to get involved in the interview in any other way. Therefore, always speak directly to the applicant.
  • Plan well in advance, beginning when the applicant's campus visit is confirmed, for an interpreter or real time captioner.

Even though an applicant discloses the need for an accommodation, before an offer of employment, an employer still may not inquire as to:

  • the nature of a disability;
  • the severity of a disability;
  • the condition causing the disability;
  • any prognosis or expectation regarding the condition or disability or
  • whether the individual will need treatment or special leave because of the disability.

For further assistance in the area of disabilities, contact either the assistant director for compliance and disability services in the Office of Institutional Equity by calling 47253 or the employee relations administrator in Human Resources by calling 40269.