10 top tips for employers looking to engage employees with disability
As a young person with disability who recently secured her first job, I know all too well the struggles people face when walking out of a job interview.
Did it go well? Did they like me? Did they notice I have a disability? Will that affect their decision? All those thoughts go through your head in about three seconds and it can be very daunting and completely overwhelming.
However, one thing most people forget is that it can also be very daunting for the interviewer too. Interviewing, or even talking to a person with disability, may be very new territory for them.
Think about what goes through their head. What do I say? What don’t I say? Do I bring up their disability? Am I going to offend them? Do I let them know this is new to me to?
Once all these questions have been answered and everything is out in the open, it makes for a much smoother transition and a much better interview.
So here is my list of 10 things I want every employer to know when engaging with an employee with disability.
1.) Don’t freak out. We’re just like you and we can tell when you’re thinking “what the heck do I do/say”.
2.) Treat us like everyone else. We don’t like it when you make us feel like we’re getting special treatment or you’re just being nice because you’re uncomfortable.
3.) Don’t treat us like heroes because we turn up for an interview on our own. We can do things by ourselves.
4.) Don’t finish the interview the second you realise there’s an elephant in the room. We want a fair chance.
5.) Give us a chance to tell you about our strengths and how we overcome barriers. We’re just as determined as anyone else and don’t want anything getting in the way of us achieving goals.
6.) If we don’t get the job please give us constructive feedback as to why. Don’t not give a reason because you’re worried you might offend us. Doing that often offends us more.
7.) Don’t worry about how you’re going to look after us if we get the job. We’ve usually got that all under control!
8.) Please don’t compare, or try to pair us up with other people, just because you think we’ll get along because we’ve both got disability.
9.) Don’t tippy toe around us. We won’t combust if your foot accidentally hits our chair.
10.) If you have any concerns please talk to us about them. We’re reasonable and can understand you may have questions you would like answered so let’s talk about them so they don’t become an issue.