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Office of Human Resources

Equal Opportunity & Compliance


Interviewing Tips

For Applicants with Specific Disabilities

When Interviewing an Applicant Who Uses a Wheelchair

  • Don't lean on the wheelchair.
  • Get on the same eye level with the applicant if the conversation lasts more than a minute or so.
  • Don't push the wheelchair unless you are asked to do so.
  • Keep accessibility in mind. Is that chair in the middle of your office a barrier to a wheelchair user? If so, move it aside.
  • Don't be embarrassed to use such phrases as "Let's walk over."

When Interviewing an Applicant Who has an Intellectual or Cognitive Disability

  • Use simple, concrete language, but don't use baby talk.
  • When giving instructions or directions, proceed slowly.
  • Be patient, and repeat directions if necessary.
  • Ask the applicant to summarize the information you have given to make sure it was understood.
  • Give positive feedback whenever possible and appropriate.

When Interviewing an Applicant Who is Blind

  • Immediately identify yourself and others present; cue a handshake verbally or physically.
  • Use verbal cues; be descriptive in giving directions. (The table is about five steps to your left.)
  • Verbalize chair location, or place the persons hand on the back of the chair, but do not place the person in the chair.
  • Don't be embarrassed to use such phrases as "Do you see what I mean."
  • Don't shout.
  • Keep doors either open or closed; a half-open door is a serious hazard.
  • Offer assistance with mobility; let the applicant grasp your left arm, usually just above the elbow. Again, ask first, and do not be surprised if assistance is refused.
  • Do not touch an applicant's cane. Do not touch a guide dog when in a harness. In fact, resist the temptation to pet a guide dog.

When Interviewing an Applicant Who is Deaf

  • You may need to use a physical signal to get the applicants attention.
  • If the applicant is lip reading, enunciate clearly, 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 only 30-35% of what you are saying.
  • The best method to communicate is to use a combination of gestures and facial expressions. You may also want to learn how to fingerspell, or, if you are more ambitious, take a course in American Sign Language.
  • Don't shout.
  • If you don't understand what the applicant is telling you, don't pretend you did. Ask the candidate to repeat the sentence(s).
  • If necessary, use a sign language interpreter. But keep in mind that the interpreter's job is to translate, not to get involved in any other way. Therefore, always face and speak directly to the applicant, not the interpreter. Don't say to the interpreter, "Tell her..."

***The above information and more can be found at: http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/focus.htm.