When you're looking for a new job, there are several things that you will want to be sure to cover during the job interview. However, if you have a disability or a previous injury, it can be hard to know how much information to give. If your condition is visible, you will most likely be asked about your limitations. However, if your injury isn't so easily noticed, it's tempting to not mention it at all, which can feel dishonest. So, how much should you say about your disability or injury?
Here are a few tips to help make the discussion as easy as possible:
Pay attention to the job description - Many times the job description will include specific physical requirements. If it doesn't, or you still need more clarification, feel free to ask about the physical abilities required for the job. The employer should be able to tell you exactly what they need. Use this information to get a feel for the job and what it will entail. If there is something in the description that you know you won't be able to do (for example, lifting boxes weighing 50lbs) don't waste your time or the interviewer's time. Simply let them know that you are no longer interested in the position. You don't have to give a reason or share any personal information.
You're not required to give details about your condition - You do not have to give an employer personal information about your injury or disability. Often, job seekers feel the need to justify their requests for reasonable accommodations. It's not necessary. For example, if you are applying for a job in a warehouse, but there is nothing in the job description that you can't do, there is no need to share any information. However, if you think that it might become an issue later, there are ways to talk about it.
Mention your limitations as they relate to the job - Instead of explaining your condition, mention your limitations only in terms of the job. For example, instead of saying "I was in a car accident last year and have some neck damage", simply say "I have trouble lifting things over my head. Is there a step ladder for employee use?". This allows you to mention your limitation and ask for specific accommodations, without making a bigger issue about it.
Know your rights - The American Disabilities Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for people who have a disability or physical limitations. However, if a job requires specific skills, the employer is allowed to not hire someone based on their inability to do the work. Keep in mind that although the law requires employers to provide accommodations, the employee doesn't always get to decide on the best ones for them. The employer has the final say. This is why it's better to plant the idea of the accommodations best suited to your condition during the interview.
When you're looking for a job and have a disability or an injury that limits your physical abilities, it's important to address the issue as a professional. Don't get caught up in a story that could possibly make you sound like a victim. Instead, talk about what you have to offer the company. Once you've established why you're the right person for the job, mention your limitations, along with ways to minimize the problem and maximize your productivity.
Have you had trouble finding a job due to a disability or previous injury? Please share your thoughts in the comments.