alt=a well-dressed man sits nervously in a motorized wheelchair, looking at his phone and thinking.

Interviewing for a Job When You Have a Disability

Interviewing for a job can be a daunting task for anyone regardless of how physically or mentally capable you are. But when it comes to having a disability, this process can feel even more stressful.

In this article, I’m going to share my process for identifying as a person with a disability to a hopeful employer, when to do it, and the most productive way to go about identifying.

When to identify as a person with a disability

Let’s assume you have applied for a job and already received a request for a first-round interview. Congrats! That in itself is an accomplishment, although it might not feel like much.

But, I know, your brain instantly switched to panic mode, wondering if this potential opportunity could easily be taken away once the company discovers your disability.

Wait for the in-person interview to happen

If your first interview is over the phone or via video chat, I recommend holding off identifying yourself since these types of interviews are mostly designed as another way to get to know the applicant and further discuss your resume and credentials. Enjoy bragging about yourself, disability aside.

But now you’ve moved on to the in-person round and suddenly the possibility of landing this job feels eminently farther away. Obviously, SMA is not a very easy disability to hide.

However, don’t let that stop you from actually identifying before an in-person interview. Unfortunately, although obviously, this shouldn’t be the case.

Why it's helpful to mention a disability in advance

A physical disability can be rather shocking to a person who isn’t used to this situation, and the person interviewing you will focus most of their attention wondering what accommodations you’ll need or if you can even handle the job responsibilities. You don’t want this!

When you receive an invitation for an in-person interview, take that as your queue to tell your contact just how awesome you REALLY are... I mean, even more awesome than they probably already think.

How to disclose your disability

Whether it’s an invitation over the phone to come in for an interview or by email, take this as an opportunity to identify your disability.

Of course, you don’t need to get into specifics or even tell your contact about SMA. Below is an example of what I have said in the past.

Thank you for allowing me to move on in the application process. I am very excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to meet everyone. Before coming in, I did want to say that I have a disability and use a powered wheelchair. For the interview, I will be bringing an aide to assist me throughout the day. Also, could you please let me know what the in-person interview entails in case I need to bring any adaptive technology with me?

See, pretty easy and allows you and the company to prepare without scurrying around last minute. This would also be a good time to confirm the office is wheelchair accessible.

Disclosing in advance sets you up for success

So, to conclude, always identify before an in-person interview and disclose your needs so you and your interviewer can have a successful day.

Look out for my next article where I’ll share tips on how to ask for accommodations once you’ve landed your dream job.

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