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Those Awkward Moments - Applying for a Job as a Disabled Person.
Michael Broderick is one of Scope’s new Online Community Interns. In the role, he is helping to monitor and grow the online community. He has worked in a variety of fields throughout his career including voice-over, local government, disability services, and education.
As a new member of the Scope team, I recently had the pleasure to interview for my position as an Online Community Intern. I say pleasure, because I enjoy talking to people generally, and it was nice to meet the members of the team that I’d be working with should my interview prove successful.
But it was also a pleasure as it was the first time I’d ever done a remote interview for a job via Skype.
Although it was a little strange not being able to shake hands and meet the interviewers face-to-face, it was a comfortable experience to sit in my own home, in my own office, and talk about the role, and the skills and experience I could bring to it.
It was only later that I realised how many disability-related hassles interviewing remotely had solved for me.
It saved me the considerable time and expense of arranging accessible transport to and from London and a more than 2-hour commute each way. That in turn gave me more time to get dressed, which is something I find is taking me longer and longer these days as I’m getting older.
Although I did get dressed up to put across my professionalism, I didn’t have the added worry of getting “suited and booted” while rushing to be on time for a taxi, and trying to slurp down a coffee or grabbing something quick to eat on my way out the door.
It left me more relaxed and more able to focus on the task at hand. (I suppose that, in the back of my mind, I was also able to relax a bit more as well, from knowing that Scope is a Pan-Disability organisation that’s well-versed in disability matters.)
I also didn’t have to wonder whether the building was accessible, whether there was disabled parking, whether the lobby floor was slippery and I might fall on my crutches, whether I could sit down and get up from the chairs in the lobby (or, for that matter, from the chairs in the interview room), whether I could reach the registration desk to sign in, or even how far a walk it was going to be from the lobby to the interview room.
And there wasn’t that awkward moment that’s typical of when I usually arrive in the interview room – generally all sweaty and out-of-breath, trying to introduce myself and shake hands, while pulling out the chair, and getting my backpack off. That moment when interviewers tend to have a look on their faces that’s a mix of: “Oh, I hope he doesn’t fall,” “Should I help him?” and “He’s really struggling”.
So, interviewing remotely was a nice luxury – a bit of a rarity (in keeping with the fact that the role of Online Community Intern can be done remotely). But it got me thinking about all the added issues and stress that come with applying for and interviewing for jobs when you’re disabled. It also got me pondering all of the questions this raises for disabled applicants, such as:
- Is the application itself accessible? Do I need to request it in accessible formats?
- Do I tick the “disabled” box? (You know the one, where available, that helps guarantee you an interview.)
- Do I tell the interviewer(s) about my disability, and if so, when?
- Can I get to the interview location?
- Can I get around the interview location and the interview room?
- Do I need reasonable adjustments for the interview itself?
- Do I need reasonable adjustments to perform the job, and when do I request them?
These are just some of the issues you may grapple with when applying for jobs, and they beg the question of how employers can help improve the job application and interview process for disabled people.
Please tell us about your own experiences and give us your advice.
What specific disability-related difficulties have you had in applying for and interviewing for jobs?
What steps should employers take to improve the job application and interview process for you and other disabled applicants?