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How to Discuss a Disability or Injury in Your Interview

Disabled workers illustrated by handicap sign

As a job seeker, it is imperative that you say the right things during your interview, as you are trying to make the best possible impression on a potential employer. If you are dealing with a disability or a recent injury, it is often better to be honest and let your employer know about it. I say ‘often better’ because it is not necessary for you to tell a potential employer everything about your disability.

If your disability is visible and it comes up during the interview, there is little you can do to hide it. However, what if your disability is not immediately noticeable? Should you still disclose its presence to the employer?

Here are a few job interview tips that will help you out if you are trying to decide whether you should disclose details about your disability or injury:

Learn About the Job Requirements

In every organization, there are numerous roles and positions that need to be carried out. Many jobs require some form of manual labor, and having certain disabilities can make it difficult, if not impossible, to perform these tasks.

So, before you approach the employer for an interview, dig a little deeper and try to figure out what the potential job entails. You can even ask your interviewer more detailed questions about the job description.

If you feel that you will not be able to perform the job due to your disability, don’t waste your time with the interview; there are hundreds of jobs out there which are more suited to your abilities.

You Can Keep Secrets

When you are talking to an interviewer, be mindful about the information you provide. There is absolutely no need to say anything that isn’t related to the job you are applying for. Of course, it would be forthright to keep your employer informed about any disabilities you may have, but do so only if necessary or you feel it would hamper your performance in any way.

If the job can be performed without any accommodations, there is no need to disclose an injury or disability. However, if the job requires something that would be difficult for you to perform without help or accommodations, there are ways of letting your employer know.

Relate Everything to the Job

Instead of mentioning your medical condition openly to an employer, take a look at the job description and ask for accommodations that would directly relate to the job.

For example, your job may require you to lift heavy boxes and place them in shelves. But due to a car accident, it is painful for you to raise your arms above your head. In such a case, you could request your employer for a step ladder, claiming that it is difficult for you to raise your hands above a certain level. There is no need to mention the car accident or any other details about the injury.

Understand the ADA

Based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers are forbidden from discriminating against job seekers with disabilities. The law mandates that they provide reasonable accommodations to people who require them.

However, if a position requires specific skills that cannot be performed by a disabled employee, an employer is allowed to turn down their application. Reasonable accommodation only pertains to jobs where accommodation is possible and its cost is low.

So, when you are preparing for your interview, read about the ADA and be ready to suggest any accommodations you may need for the job.

Be mindful of what you say during the interview, there is no need to provide too many details about your injury or disability. Handle the interview professionally and simply ask the employer for what you need from them. They will understand, and if possible, can provide the accommodations to help you succeed in the workplace..