National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Tips For Preparing For An Interview
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign in October aimed at raising awareness surrounding employment issues for people with disabilities and celebrates the many contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. NDEAM’s began in 1945 when Congress passed the law stating that the first week in October each year would be National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month
“When you focus on someone’s disability you’ll overlook their abilities, beauty, and uniqueness. Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.”
– Yvonne Pierre
Interviewing for a job can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but for people with disabilities, the process can be even more challenging. People with disabilities need to figure out how they are going to navigate things such as accessibility needs as well as educating others about what qualities you bring to the table as a good candidate for the position that you are interviewing for. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the interview.
1. Have A Mental Checklist Of Your Needs
Have a checklist of certain things you need in order to be successful in the workplace. This will depend on your disability, but above all, will you be able to successfully complete the tasks of the position with reasonable accommodations. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. A reasonable accommodation is a modification to the workplace environment that will allow an employee to perform the tasks of his or her position effectively. An example of this would be getting a taller or wider desk.
2. Ask Questions
Going into an interview prepared with questions shows that you are interested in the position that you are applying for. It is also a way for you to show the person who is interviewing you that you are a good fit for the job, or to set yourself apart from other applicants. Always include questions that show that you have researched them and that you are interested in opening a dialogue in order to learn more.
3. Be Prepared To Talk About Your Resume
Make sure to bring two copies of your resume to the interview. One for you to refer to and one for the interviewer as you discuss your past and relevant experience. When the person interviewing you asks about specific things on your resume, having a copy in front of you will help you to remember certain points that you do not want to leave out.
4. Confidence Is Essential
Interviews can be stressful, but there are ways to increase your confidence. First of all, know that even if everything goes wrong, it is not the end of the world. Focus on what you will bring the table. Next, be aware that the adrenaline in your system will help you remember things and be on top of your me. Positive self-talk is helpful to train your mind by saying to yourself “I’m excited, I’m excited” as opposed to “I’m stressed out” before the interview. Listening to powerful music shortly before, writing a letter about a time when you felt powerful, and striking power poses before the interview are all good too. Just try not to overdo it and come across as rehearsed.
5. Discussing Your Disability With An Employer
By law, you are not required to answer anything about your disability that makes you feel uncomfortable, but answering appropriate questions may help a potential employer make reasonable adjustments or to assure them that you are able to fulfill the job requirements. If you have a hidden disability and need accommodations, it may be best to bring this up at the interview stage. However during the interview, focus on how great a candidate you are, and all the things you can do.
6. Prepare Answers For Interview Questions
More often than not companies ask very similar interview questions. You are even able to purchase books on interview questions. Taking some time to think about your responses will help you to be more confident and ease your nerves. It will also help you to come across as a more prepared candidate, but try not to sound as if it is something that you rehearsed- be genuine with your responses.
7. Bring A Portfolio Of Work
If it pertains to the position that you are applying for, bring along a selection of your work such as writing, photography, or art. You can refer to examples from the portfolio in your answers. If you at the beginning of your career, you can create mock pieces to showcase your capabilities.
8. Provide A Letter Of Recommendation
If you have volunteered with an organization or had a good experience with an employer, ask them for a letter of recommendation that you can bring with you to the interview to leave with them. This will increase your credibility, and it is a way to help ensure that the interviewer remembers you in a positive light.
“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with.”
– Stephen Hawking