ANNEX C.3b: Interviews with impaired users (guidelines)

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Following on from the Manpower Working with Disabilities Report, we are proud to provide you with the Manpower Interview and Recruitment Guidelines aimed at the employment of people with disabilities.

As with the Working with Disabilities Report, the Interview and Recruitment Guidelines are primarily aimed at employers, as an informative and above all practical guide to interviewing and recruiting people with disabilities.

We hope this second publication will help employers to define their own procedures regarding the interviewing and recruitment of people with disabilities, which will in turn result in the integration of more and more people from this disadvantaged group into mainstream employment. The benefits to people with disabilities are obvious; the benefits to employers as they diversify their workforces, equally so; but it will be business itself that reaps the benefits to be gained from access to a huge pool of skilled, motivated and loyal candidates…

Recruitment Advertising

Consider advertising in disability-related publications and through disability support groups and charities.

Consider job design carefully and do not require qualifications that cannot be justified by the job in question.

Ensure that details of location are included as these may impact on whether or not certain candidates with disabilities apply for a job.

Indicate the availability of flexible working conditions, if these are to be offered.

Do not require any more of a person with a disability than would be required of anyone else.

Include credentials as equal opportunities employer, if applicable.

Setting up Interviews

Expect the same measure of punctuality from applicants with disabilities as from applicants without disabilities.

When setting up an interview time, consider the distance, weather conditions and physical obstacles that the interviewee may be presented with, and ensure that the interviewee is aware of how much time may be needed to arrive at the interview location.

Be aware that an interviewee may need to arrange to be picked up after the interview has concluded - provide a good estimate of how long the interview will last.

Visual disabilities: when giving directions, use very clear specifics including estimated distances where possible, for example, “turn right coming out of the lift and it’s about five metres to the office door.”

Familiarise the interviewee in advance with the names of all people that will be met during the visit.

Location: the proposed interview site should be reviewed to ensure it is accessible and appropriate for interviewing a person with a disability. Some important things to consider are:

- availability of disabled parking spaces

- ready access to public transport systems

- ramp or step-free entrance

- accessible toilets

- accessible lifts, where relevant

- clear signage on outside identifying the premises

- layout of interview room – does it interfere in any way with the mobility of the interviewee?

If any of these are inadequate and alterations cannot readily be made, inform the interviewee of them prior to the interview and offer to arrange an alternative interview site.

Meeting and Greeting at Interviews

Use a normal tone of voice when extending a welcome.

Shake hands, even when a person may have limited hand use or an artificial limb. A left-hand shake is acceptable. If the person cannot shake hands, touch the person on the shoulder or arm to welcome.

Look and speak directly to the interviewee rather than to any companion, helper or interpreter that may be present and maintain eye contact with the interviewee.

Offer assistance with dignity and respect and be prepared to accept instructions.

Allow a person with a visual impairment to take your arm (at or around the elbow), allowing you to guide rather than force.

Offer to hold or carry packages in a respectful manner.

Do not offer to handle a cane or crutches unless requested and do not lean on a wheelchair.

Do not patronise wheelchair users by patting them on the shoulder.

Conducting the Interview

Do not ask questions that would not be asked of a person without a disability in similar circumstances, for example:

- do not ask how the disability was acquired

- avoid focusing on the disability unless it is the only way to find out what adjustments are required.

Eliminate any medical questions that are not strictly justified by the inherent requirements of the job … and do not impose medical checks on interviewees with disabilities that would not be applied to interviewees without disabilities.

Ask what requirements may be needed to enable the person to do the job comfortably and be prepared to discuss how to cater for any difficulties that might be envisaged.

Treat the person with the same respect you would treat any applicant.

Assume the interviewee is of normal intelligence.

Always look and speak directly to the interviewee.

Do not be embarrassed if a common expression which relates to the interviewee’s disability is used, for example, “see you later” with a visually impaired person.

Be willing to repeat questions and if not understood a second time, ask in another way.

Show patience when speaking and listening.

Do not pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so - do not be embarrassed to ask for clarification.

Do not touch the person in overly familiar ways, unless you are familiar with them.

Common mistakes: openly admiring the applicant’s courage, expressing sympathy, staring or avoiding eye contact, avoiding essential questions, assuming help is needed, asking about “your handicaps”.

Refer to “non-disabled people” or “people without disabilities” rather than “normal” people.

Ask about any special equipment or reasonable adjustments that may be required should the person be successful in getting this job.

MOBILITY IMPAIRMENTS

Keep crutches, canes or wheelchairs within reach of the interviewee.

Some wheelchair users may prefer to sit in an office chair for the interview.

When speaking to a person in a wheelchair or on crutches for more than a few moments, sit down to be at that person’s eye level.

SPEECH IMPAIRMENTS

Give the interviewee complete attention.

Be encouraging rather than correcting; do not adopt a concerned expression.

Ask questions that require short answers or a nod of the head.

Resist the temptation to speak for a person who is having difficulty expressing themselves; do not raise your voice.

VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

Identify yourself and introduce anyone else present.

If the interviewee does not extend a hand shake, express a verbal welcome.

When offering seating, place the interviewee’s hand on the back or arm of the chair and provide a verbal indication.

Indicate in advance before moving from one place to another.

Let the interviewee know when the conversation has ended.

If interviewing in a group situation, provide a verbal indication by announcing the name of the person being addressed.

Do not feed, pat or distract a guide dog.

HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

Find out before the interview if the interviewee will rely on lip reading and be sure to face the person during the interview and when guiding around the interview site.

Ensure that the interview room is quiet and that outside disturbances, such as traffic noise, are minimal.

Be prepared to write a message if being understood becomes difficult.

Work Environment

Consider whether any physical feature of the workplace puts disabled people at a substantial disadvantage and, if so, make the necessary reasonable adjustments.

Remember that access for wheelchair users is not the beginning and end of the story.

Examples of how to improve accessibility include:

- removing clutter from common areas

- painting doors a contrasting colour to walls for visually impaired workers

- lowering light switches for wheelchair-users

- considering modifications to equipment, for example, visible as well as audible fire alarms for deaf workers.

Consider what assistive devices could be introduced, for example, a computer with speech output and provide training in their use.

In managing work schedules, consider whether it is reasonable for adjustments to be made to accommodate disabled employees, for example, flexibility in leave arrangements for workers whose disability requires periodic treatment.

Be prepared to reallocate minor duties to another employee.

Make instructions and manuals accessible, for example, a Braille version for the visually impaired.

Prepare non-disabled employees on any adjustments needed for working with disabled colleagues.

In General

Put the person first and disability second.

Do not make assumptions about the disabled worker’s needs.

Remember that some disabilities are hidden.

Talk to each disabled person about individual needs.

Look into what help is available.

Introduce disability issues specifically into equal opportunities policies and monitor effectiveness.

Consider whether you need expert help to assess the needs of the individual and to find out about the range of adjustments that can be made.

Consult other employees to win buy-in for any changes proposed, but seek the permission of the disabled employee before consulting others about anything specific to that individual.

Consider disabled workers in plans for career progression and training.

Allow absences during working hours for rehabilitation, assessment or treatment.

Position disabled employees’ work stations in places that offer the best accessibility.

Plan ahead. Think now about what can be done cost effectively to anticipate future legislative requirements.