Job interviews are nerve-wracking for most of us. If you have a disability, the anxiety will often climb to another level.

Currently one in six Australians live with disability. That works out to be 4.4 million people.

Only 53% of people with disability of working age are in paid work, compared to 82% of their non-disabled peers.

If you have a disability, you may have found it hard to decide if, when, and how to raise it with a potential employer.

Many people prefer not to disclose a disability before or during an interview if they don’t have to. Yet, non-disclosure might not always be possible depending on your disability.

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A man in a wheel chair, sitting in front of three people at a job interview.

Before the interview

It’s probably easier to talk about your disability when calling to confirm an interview. You don’t need to share this information in your cover letter or resume because it’s not relevant to the role itself.

Depending on your disability you might need to ask for adjustments to help you attend your interview. Adjustments could include an Auslan interpreter or a ground floor interview room where there are no stairs.

You should contact the appropriate person and give them as much notice as possible. This is so they have time to organise any adjustments and have it ready for interview day.

For example: Chris is going to an interview. There will be a written test. He has a vision impairment and needs to ask for the text of the test to be size 20 font. Chris arranges this with the Human Resources Officer well before the interview.

If you have a mobility issue you might want to ask about elevators in the building. If there aren't any you’ll need to make sure a ground floor interview room or alternative (and accessible) location can be arranged.

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A man with hearing aids is sitting in an interview.

At the interview

It might be easier and feel more natural to talk about your disability at the interview. If you have a visible disability, it may be useful to have something prepared to say.

For example: You would have noticed that I use a walking aid; this is due to congenital scoliosis. The only workplace support I need is to have a standard, ergonomically correct office chair.

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A image of a employment form with a pen laying on top of it.

Making the decision

Disclosing your disability is a personal decision. It’s often influenced by personal values, workplace situations and possible consequences.

Factors to consider include:

  • the safety of you or your co-workers
  • you require adjustments to the application process or workplace
  • you have a disability that will be obvious at interview
  • you want to explain your disability and be clear about your needs
  • you need to explain gaps in your employment due to rehabilitation

Reasons not to disclose can include:

  • your disability wouldn't impact your ability to do the job
  • you aren't comfortable discussing your disability with a stranger
  • you worry the employer may a have negative idea about disability

Some jobs have a medical questionnaire that may ask about disability. If the medical form is compulsory you will have to answer honestly especially as the questions may relate to occupational health and safety issues.

You’ve got this!

Although people with disabilities are as gifted, skilled, and qualified as anyone else, a potential employer may not always recognise that this is the case, making the prospect of entering a job interview with your disability even more daunting.

The good news is, with preparation and practice, you can get interviewers to notice you for your skills and experience, and not your disability!

If you want more information, resources or support, check out the JobAccess website

Images: iStock

Author: Abby @ jobactive