The Australian Network on Disability, Beyond Recruitment guide states that, for many people, there may be no visible sign of disability. It is important to remember:
- Never assume anything about anyone. For example, regardless of how a person is walking ask, “Do you need the lift or stairs?”
- Ask all participants whether they require any adjustments.
- An individual’s illness, injury or disability is as unique as their finger print.
The interview is an opportunity for the employer to identify the most suitable candidate for the job. When contacting applicants to attend an interview, we recommend asking them about their access needs. For example, ask, “Do you have any requirements for the interview?”
Appropriate and reasonable adjustments may include:
- accessible interview location
- Auslan or other interpreter
- providing information in an alternative format.
Interviews may include assessment methods such as tests, case studies or presentations. It is important to notify all applicants of this at first contact prior to the interview.
Interview questions must be bias-free and relevant to the work related requirements. The panel must document the interview process and ensure it is transparent and capable of review.
The Disability Discrimination Act makes it illegal to ask questions directly about an applicant’s disability. Ask the same questions that you would of a person without disability and ensure that the questions are around the inherent requirements of the job, or job essentials.
The only questions you can ask about a disability or injury relate to:
- any adjustments required to ensure a fair and equitable interview/selection process
- if, or how, the disability may impact on some aspects of the inherent requirements of a job
- any adjustments that may be required to complete the inherent requirements of the job.
Any other questions about a person’s disability are inappropriate, including questions about:
- how the person acquired their disability
- specific details of the person’s disability that are not related to the specific requirements of the job.
- Inappropriate question: “I notice you have some difficulty walking and I wonder how you get around. Did you have an accident or is this a congenital condition?”
- Appropriate question: “This position will require the staff member to drive a vehicle on a regular basis. Do you meet this requirement?”
Behavioral interview questions that are framed around the job essentials allow applicants to demonstrate where they gained their skills and abilities, regardless of the context.
“Tell me about a time when you solved a problem for a difficult customer” instead of “Describe your call centre experience” will allow an applicant to demonstrate they have the skills required for a customer service role.
Alternatives to interviews
For some people with disability an interview may not be the best way to demonstrate their skills. If this is the case, there are alternatives to consider, including:
- offering work for a contractual period and then asking them to compete in a merit selection process
- a work skills test which is rated and then ranked as part of a merit selection process
provision of portfolio evidence
- technical skills assessment for the tasks related to the inherent requirements of the job.