By their very nature, video interviews are tough. You might not know where to look (do you glance at your camera, the computer screen, or both?), what to say, how long (or short) your answers should be, and so on. But for people with disabilities, video interviews can be even more challenging. Dr. Kathryn Bingham, CEO of LEADistics, a leadership development and executive coaching company, offers her expert advice on how to handle video interviews when you have a disability—and win over a potential employer!
Present yourself in the best possible light.
Before your video interview, it’s important to see how the device you’ll be using (such as a computer, tablet, or smartphone) will make you appear to others. “Candidates often seek to be evaluated on the knowledge, skills, and potential contributions they bring to the table without introducing bias or faulty assumptions,” says Dr. Bingham. “One way to assure this is to manage the technical element of video display as part of the interview preparation.” You can opt for Skyping or FaceTiming with a friend or family member to get a glimpse of how you look, and see where you might need to make some corrections, if any. And while you might not necessarily be hiding your wheelchair, cane, or service dog, for example, you might not want to present that first and foremost, either.
Know your rights.
It’s illegal for an employer to ask you about your disability. If your disability is visible, though, an employer can ask if you might require certain accommodations, such as a standing desk or special equipment to allow you to work successfully. It’s up to you to then to determine if you want to address your disability with your interviewer or not.
The good news: some employers might actually want to know about your disability, since they know the positive impact hiring you for the job would make not only in your life, but to their company as well. Plus, they might be eligible to earn certain tax credits, like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, which offers a monetary incentive for employers to hire individuals with disabilities, ranging from $1,200–$9,600.
Practice your answers.
It’s easy to get flustered during your job interview, but when you’re trying to hide a disability, it can make it even harder to focus. That’s why you should conduct mock interviews prior to the big day. You can rehearse why you’re a qualified candidate, and explain exactly what it is that makes you want to work for the company.
If you’re interviewing for a remote job, you should also mention the soft skills you’ve mastered that can make working remotely a cinch.
Focus on the positive.
Obviously, the fact that you were called for a job interview shows that an employer believes you have the skills, education, experience, and qualifications necessary in order to do the job.
So highlight those strengths during the job interview instead. After all, if you don’t make your disability the focus of the interview, neither will your interviewer.
Sure, it could be easy for a prospective employer to be distracted by your disability—but only if you allow it to happen. That’s why you need to take the spotlight off of what your perceived limitations might be and show what you can do instead. Explain that you might use certain equipment (like an enlarger to read text on a computer screen) to help you work, and cite examples in the past of how you’ve successfully worked with your disability.
That way, the focus will be on what you can offer the company, not your disability.