Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Students with disabilities who are beginning the job search process would be advised to read the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at https://www.ada.gov/. The ADA states “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives federal civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.” In addition, “the ADA prohibits discrimination by employers with 15 or more employees.” [https://www.ada.gov/hiv/ada_q&a_hiv.htm].
It is important that students with disabilities become familiar with ADA guidelines in order to understand which interview questions are considered illegal for employers to ask job applicants. Essentially, the ADA permits employers to ask job applicants about their abilities to perform the job duties, but not about their disabilities. If job applicants have visible disabilities, they may benefit by providing the employer with explanations of how they will be able to perform assigned job duties. Job interviews are challenging for all job candidates, but students with disabilities may feel more vulnerable and challenged by certain interview questions. There may be work performance questions that students with disabilities feel uncomfortable answering during their initial interview for fear of being disqualified from the applicant pool.
For a job interview guide on disability rights, check out the federal Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (FAQ).
The following job interview preparation tips may provide new insights, as well as diverse resources to explore. To read additional job interview preparation tips from the resources referenced below, please visit the links provided.
‘Job Interview Tips for People with Disabilities’ by Ralph Heibutzkii
“Knowing your rights protects you from answering questions that are illegal or discriminatory. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 bars employers from asking questions that might reveal a disability or mental health issue, according to a Volunteer State Health Plan Inc. pamphlet. You don’t have to reveal a disability until you need accommodation for it. Employers can ask about these issues only once they make a job offer. Even then, an employer can withdraw offers only for reasons that are job-related or in keeping with business needs.” –Houston Chronicle at https://work.chron.com/job-interview-tips-people-disabilities-6998.html.
“Prepare, prepare, prepare! Learn as much as you can about the job you are applying for. Make sure you understand what the company does and what the job requires. Be ready to answer the question “Why do you want to work here?” Also be ready to talk about your skills and strengths. Practice answering these questions with someone you know.”
‘Students with Disabilities: Acing the Interview’
Timing the Disclosure “The employer’s first contact with you will typically be through your cover letter and resume. There are many differing opinions on whether one should mention the disability on the resume or in the cover letter. If you are comfortable revealing your disability early in the process, then give careful consideration to where the information is placed and how it is stated. The cover letter and resume should primarily outline relevant skills, experiences, and education for the position for which you are applying. Therefore, if you choose to disclose your disability, the disclosure should be brief and placed near the end of the cover letter and resume. It should never be the first piece of information that the employer sees about you. The information should also reveal your ability to manage your disability while performing required job functions.” –Oregon State University Career Services at https://career.oregonstate.edu/sites/career.oregonstate.edu/files/students_with_disabilities_acing_the_interview.pdf
University of Connecticut Center for Career Development
The UConn Center for Career Development provides students with numerous interview resources/tools at https://career.uconn.edu/resources/?ctag%5B%5D=interview-preparation including the Interview Preparation Guide, the big Interview (an interactive tool where students can practice interviewing skills 24/7), Career On Demand videos, Husky Mentor Network (group of UConn alumni will provide practice interviews with students) and many more.
If you are a University of Connecticut student and would like more information about career services and programs, please visit the website at https://career.uconn.edu/channels/students-with-disabilities/. To schedule career appointments at the Center for Career Development, please go to https://uconn.joinhandshake.com/login
In addition, please contact the UConn Center for Students with Disabilities for more information about disability support and accommodations at https://csd.uconn.edu/.
by Robin Shefts
Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash