Recruiting disabled people

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

Workbridge has candidates nationwide. When planning your recruitment strategy consider including Workbridge alongside other recruitment channels.

Successful businesses are good at attracting people from a wide range of backgrounds and ensuring that they feel welcome and are able to contribute their best. In a tight labour market it is even more important that you are recruiting from the widest talent pool possible.

Many disabled people will not need you to do things differently, but some will. Your recruitment processes need to be accessible for disabled candidates. They should have the same opportunities to show they are the best person for the job as anyone else.

Your local Workbridge centre will be able to tell you if they have candidates who could be right for the position and will advise you on making it as easy as possible for disabled people to apply for vacancies.

We also assist employers to check whether their standard processes are accessible to everyone. If you are unsure whether one of your processes could cause problems for a disabled candidate, your employment consultant will be able to help. Contact your nearest Workbridge centre to get in touch with an employment consultant if you don’t have one.

Job advertisements, job descriptions and person specifications

When writing job advertisements, job descriptions and person specifications consider the way you communicate the job requirements, to avoid putting off talented candidates. Take time to consider what tasks and skills are really essential for the job.

Most importantly, concentrate on what needs to be done rather than how the work should be done. A disabled candidate may well be able to demonstrate that they can do the work if reasonable accommodations are made. Most disabled people do not need accommodations, just the opportunity to contribute.

Recruitment do’s and don’ts

Do… Don’t…
Be precise about what skills you need. Ask for an 80 word-per-minute typist when accuracy and familiarity with word processing is more important than speed.
Be open to different ways of performing a task. Assume a person needs a Drivers Licence to maintain business relationships. Other forms of travel may be available.

Selecting the best candidate for the job


  • formal qualifications or educational achievement may not be an accurate indicator of capability, as a person’s education may have been interrupted by the effects of their disability
  • gaps between jobs or courses could be disability-related, e.g. rehabilitation after an accident or a long period of illness from which they have now recovered
  • voluntary work and life experience can provide valuable, transferable skills, e.g. practical problem-solving and relationship skills.


Ask every candidate, not just those who have disclosed a disability, if they have any particular requirements for the interview. Be prepared to:

  • hold the interview in an accessible location, e.g. on the ground floor or in a room accessible by a lift
  • arrange a NZ Sign Language interpreter through your Workbridge employment consultant
  • allow the candidate to come with a support person or Workbridge employment consultant
  • consider alternatives to a standard interview, e.g. having only one interviewer or conducting the interview by telephone.

Interview do’s and don’ts

Do… Don’t…
If appropriate, tell the candidate that the job involves working under pressure to tight timeframes. Ask them to talk about a situation where they have been under pressure and how they have met deadlines. Ask how the pressure of a tight deadline will affect their disability.
Make sure that the candidate knows what tasks are involved in the job, and be sure that that they have the skills to do the job, or could acquire them. Describe the tasks involved in the job and ask the candidate what they won’t be able to do because of their disability.
Remember the candidate’s personal privacy. Ask the candidate what happened to them – how did they get their disability?

More guidance on recruiting and employing disabled people is available in Workbridge’s ‘Manager’s guide – A best practice approach to working with disabled employees’ which is available from your employment consultant.


Other Information

Manager’s guide

Manager's Guide cover

A Word.doc version of the Manager’s guide is also available. Click here to request a copy.


Employment New Zealand

Click here for information on employing disabled people