Job Interviews

Tips for People with Disabilities

At some point in your job search, you will be invited to a job interview. Before you go into a job interview, it’s important to be prepared. First, know your skills and abilities. You probably have many skills that you aren’t even aware of. Ask a friend what she thinks your good qualities are. Some of these qualities can translate into job skills. Write them down and memorize them. Second, learn as much as you can about the business where you will interview. Employers are impressed when a person comes into the interview and knows about their business. Finally, practice. Pair up with a friend. Think about some questions that an employer might ask and write them down. Have your friend play the part of the employer and practice the interview.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Know your rights under The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA is civil rights law that forbid discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, state and local government activities, public accommodations, public transportation and public services. The ADA protects people with mental illness (psychiatric disabilities) if they meet certain guidelines.

The ADA has guidelines for the interview and hiring process. You can learn more by going to the links below:

http://www.adainformation.org –The Rocky Mountain ADA Center provides information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to people living in Colorado, Utah, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.
 
http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu - Job Accommodation Network – a useful site that has information on the ADA. You can also ask questions directly (via e-mail) about ADA related issues.
In general, the ADA protects people with disabilities who are looking for work in the following ways:

  • There are limits to the questions that can be asked in an interview. During the interview, before an actual job offer is made, an employer cannot ask you questions that might reveal information about a disability, including a mental illness. For example, in an interview, an employer cannot ask, "Do you have a mental illness?" or "Have you ever been in counseling?" The same applies to questions on a written job application.

  • You don’t have to disclose the fact that you have a disability. Hiring decisions should be based on a person’s qualifications to do the job. You are not required to disclose your disability at the time you apply for a job, even if you need a workplace accommodation at a later time (more about accommodations later). In fact, you can wait until you actually need an accommodation, which may be months later, before you disclose your disability.

  • After an employer has offered you a job, he does have the right to ask you about any medical conditions or disabilities, as long as the information is kept confidential and all employees who are being hired for similar jobs are asked the same questions. If an employer uses any of the information you reveal about your disability to withdraw the job offer, he must prove that his reasons are "job related and consistent with business necessity."