Interviews and Recruitment

Workbridge is the largest New Zealand-owned employment service for people with a disability or health condition.

When planning recruitment and advertising:

  • Ensure that job descriptions and advertisements reflect the core tasks of the job – list essential and desirable skills separately. This will help disabled people determine if they could do the core job before they apply.
  • Only ask for educational qualifications that are essential – this can be particularly important for people with learning difficulties or intellectual disabilities.
  • Avoid an over-emphasis on skills where they are not necessary. For example do not stress an outgoing personality unless it is absolutely required. This can be important for people with mental health issues and other disabilities which affect social skills or have affected a person’s confidence.
  • Ensure that job adverts are printed in at least 12 point font to ensure accessibility for people with visual impairments. Be ready to provide application forms in alternative formats, for example on an accessible website, on disk or in Braille.
  • Accept applications in alternative formats (e.g. tape). Be aware that in some cases support workers may assist with written applications.
  • Be aware that candidates who are over-qualified may apply for the job to regain confidence. Others may have gaps in their CV due to time out for rehabilitation and recovery or because they have had problems at a previous job where accommodations were not made. For example, do not assume that people with mental health issues cannot work in a high pressure environment – lack of challenge and opportunities for development can be just as damaging to mental health.
  • Remember that some conditions are hidden and some people may not be confident to disclose details to their employers. Give interviewees the opportunity to discuss their disability if they would like. Examples of hidden conditions include some mental health issues, diabetes, epilepsy and hearing impairments.
  • Don’t assume that the disability will be a relevant factor at work – it may or may not be. For example, many people with epilepsy rarely have seizures or only have them at night. Others with conditions such as HIV/AIDS, MS or mental health conditions may not have significant symptoms and discrimination may be the most important barrier they face.

During interviews focus on the tasks involved in the job and ensure every candidate has the opportunity to demonstrate how they could do the job. Do not make assumptions about what the candidate can or cannot do based on their disability.

Some examples of accommodations you can make during interview and assessment:

  • Ensure the interview is in an accessible place. For example make sure a person in a wheelchair can access the room. Ensure that someone is ready to meet a person with a vision impairment when they arrive for the interview and that interview rooms are uncluttered and have good lighting.
  • Consider an informal interview to put the candidate at their ease. This can be particularly helpful for someone with an intellectual disability. If the person’s support worker comes with them, talk to the candidate rather than the support worker.
  • If you have any doubts about a person’s capacity to do the job ask how they would complete the job. If possible offer the person the opportunity to see where they would work and demonstrate the job.
  • Focus on tasks and output rather than the way in which the tasks are completed. For example, many people with vision impairments may use alternative adaptive computer software such as magnifiers, screen readers and speech activated word processors.
  • If you are interviewing someone with Aspergers Syndrome, closed questions are easier for them to interpret than open or hypothetical questions. Asking about real experience and situations they have managed in the past is likely to give useful information. Be prepared to prompt candidates. This can also help people with intellectual disabilities.
  • Speech interpreters may be helpful for people with some types of speech impairments. In some cases it may be appropriate to conduct the interview by email or over the telephone via the NZ Relay service. Listen to the person and allow them to finish what they are saying. Avoid finishing their sentences. If you cannot understand the person, be patient. Tell them to take their time and repeat their point, perhaps using different phrasing. Be aware, that for some speech impairments, particularly stuttering, stress is a significant factor and communication during an interview may not be reflective of how they would communicate one-to-one or during normal work scenarios. Consider the person’s work history as well as the interview for evidence of communication skills.
  • People who are Deaf or hearing impaired may need a New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) interpreter, or they may lip read. Those who lip read may not make much eye contact. During the interview there are a few simple things you can do to make it easier to communicate:
    • speak clearly and avoid shouting
    • be aware that the candidate may need to see your mouth
    • ensure there is good lighting
    • if the candidate is lip reading, be patient – wait for the person to get used to your lip patterns and rephrase your question if they are finding it difficult to understand
    • if using an interpreter, speak to the candidate, not the interpreter.

    Workbridge provides access to video conferencing equipment for people with hearing impairments to use at an interview. Video calling allows for a qualified NZSL interpreter to interpret the interview for both the client and the interviewer. This technology isn’t intended to replace face-to-face interviews with an interpreter present in the room. However, for those times when an interpreter is not locally available, or if the client prefers, this technology provides an effective alternative.

  • If the selection process involves a test, be aware that the person’s ability to do the job may not be reflected in their testing ability. Discuss the test with them to identify any problems, allow extra time and ensure they understand the instructions.
  • Ensure that any assessments used are accessible – this is particularly important with the use of online tests, which can be inflexible. Discuss the format of the test with the applicant beforehand to identify any likely problems. Allow more time for candidates with dyslexia or those with vision impairments who are using magnification aids or screen reading software. For people with hearing impairments, provide written instructions and if you use group assessment you may need to provide a NZSL interpreter.