How can I ensure access to a job interview without being a ‘troublemaker’?

Are there general guidelines for interviewing Deaf people? 
Being Deaf, I asked my prospective employer if I could have a copy of the questions they would ask me at the interview. They said no, as it would be discriminating against hearing applicants and therefore not ‘equal opportunities’. What do you think?

Bridget, Belfast.

Dear Bridget,

That is total bollocks, but I’m afraid you might have a hard time proving this. Something very similar happened to me many years ago when I went for a headship. I asked if I could have an individual tour with the head before joining  the other applicants for the main tour. They told me exactly the same thing.
I did not challenge it there and then, as I knew it would label me as a ‘troublemaker’ (most assertive deaf people are considered ‘troublemakers’). But I have thought a lot about it since.
Of course, when I joined the main tour, I missed out on what was being said, so the hearing applicants gained more than I ever did.
Back to you. Could you explain firmly, but kindly, that you do not wish to put others at a disadvantage, but you are not asking for information in advance of the interview – you just need a copy of the questions upon you entering the room. (You may have to explain again – duh!). If any of the other applicants have a communication issue too, then tell the interviewer you would be happy for them to have their own copy of the questions, again as they come into the room.

3 responses to “How can I ensure access to a job interview without being a ‘troublemaker’?

  1. Having interviewed candidates for many years I am well aware of what the law is regarding Equality and to make sure it applies in all my interviews. In truth it is down to the Interviewer to contact you and ask if you need any additional support in relation to any disability issues that may crop up. In reality often it is the Disabled who have to ask the interviewer what they need!

    I would personally write to the Interviewer and their HR Department (keep a copy) and state what you need for your interview. Always give them a choice ie a list of questions, and or an interpreter/palantypist and request that the position of the interviewers must be such that the sun or daylight is not behind them and so on….

    If on arrival that nothing is provided or adapted. I would verbally request the above again showing them a copy of your letter. Be polite, firm and assertive.

    If they still refuse or are unable to offer a later interview date. This means that you have been discriminated against. Plain and simple. What you do next is up to you. Complain or sue…..

    The key thing to remember is that all interviews are a two way street about learning more about the company and whether you want to work for them?

    If they treat you badly like this at this early stage…My view would be that actually I would not want to work for them!!

    I know times are hard and it is not easy to get a job. However my personal view is that if you are reasonable and make reasonable demands chances are that you will make a good impression! The Company may learn something. and who knows. decide to take you on anyway! Why? Because they liked your attitude and the fact that you know about the Law and you handled it all in a correct but assertive manner! It could happen! So take the plunge and take the risk.

    Good luck and let us know how you got on?

  2. You did not say what kind of position you were applying for here. In my experience of applying for jobs I have always had to declare that I have a disability on the application form. There is usually an option at this stage to disclose whether special arrangements need to be made in the event of an interview being offered. This is the ideal opportunity to request your requirement about having access to the questions in advance and to explain that you feel it would help you to get a fairer assessment when you are compared with the other hearing candidates. If you do feel that you will have difficulty understanding the interviewer, you are also entitled to request that you take an interpreter to the interview with you. Good luck.

  3. Employers use interviews as a way of seeing how well interviewees can think on their feet. They will spring a question on you like, “Tell me about an achievement that you’re proud of”. This obviously won’t work if you see the questions in advance because you’ll have time to prepare your answers. I think the best approach is to make sure the employer provides communication support at the inteview – ie a signer, note-taker or lipspeaker. Ask your Job Centre Plus to put you in touch with their Disability Employment Advisor (DEA), who will give you more details and guidance.

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