Basic Tips on Inclusive Interviewing
The interview and selection process for participants is an area that has many legal do's and don’ts which can be intimidating for program staff. In most cases when errors are made, they are not because of an intent to discriminate, but because the interviewer wants to help, desires more information, or wants to clarify information. An inclusive interview and selection process focuses on what an individual can contribute to his or her community through service and what the program can bring to the individual. The existence of a disability is a secondary consideration.
Basic Tips for Interviewing
- Face person for interviewing
- Interview only in accessible locations
- Use the service description as a guide
- Create a list of questions to ask all applicants
Can I ask disability-related questions or request medical information as part of my interview and selection process?
No. You may not ask disability-related questions and you may not request medical information prior to offering the position to the applicant. There are very specific rules to protect persons with disabilities. These rules protect the rights of all persons and allow applicants to be assessed on merit alone. An inclusive manager focuses on an applicant's abilities to perform the essential functions and not on speculation about possible disabilities.
An interview is often a conversation, and conversations with different applicants will often cover topics in different ways. However, it is important to ask ALL applicants the SAME questions. This will help ensure that you do not inadvertently obtain information from one applicant that you do not obtain from all applicants.
During the interview, focus on questions regarding the ability of an applicant to perform the essential functions of the position with or without accommodations. Even if an applicant has a visible disability, do not make assumptions about his or her ability or the accommodations that he or she will need.
In rare instances, service programs will require medical examinations of applicants. In no instance may you require a medical exam prior to an offer of a position, but your offer may be contingent on the results of a medical exam. If you require a medical examination after a contingent offer is made, you must require it of every applicant offered similar positions. You may not require one only for persons with disabilities or persons you might think have disabilities. You will need to justify any disqualification based on the results of the medical examinations as job-related and consistent with business necessity.
This is a tricky area and caution is recommended. If you are unsure of any of this information, it is strongly recommended that you seek additional technical assistance.
What do I do if an applicant raises the issue of his/her disability or requests accommodations during the interview?
If accommodations are requested for the interview, you may make sufficient inquiries to enable you to provide the accommodations for the interview. Such accommodations are provided to enable equal opportunity to interview.
-American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter
-Materials in accessible formats, e.g. Braille and large prints
Accommodations that may be required to perform the essential functions of the service position should not be discussed at this point of the interview.
If an applicant has a visible disability or, during or prior to the interview, he or she discloses a disability or a need for accommodation to perform the essential functions of the position, it is not advisable to pursue the issue at this point and you cannot consider this in your selection decision. A response might be, "We are an inclusive project that encourages participation by all persons with the skills and abilities, and we provide reasonable accommodations."
Questions You Can Ask and Questions You Cannot Ask*
General Questions that you Can Ask:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- Tell me about your interests.
- What you see yourself doing in five years?
General Questions that you Cannot Ask:
- Tell me about your disability.
- Describe any physical or mental problems or disabilities you have.
- Have you ever received Worker’s Compensation, SSDI or SSI?
- Are you taking prescribed drugs?
- Have you ever been hospitalized?
- How many days were you absent from work for illness last year?
Questions about Performing Essential Functions that you Can Ask:
- Are you able to perform the essential functions of this position with or without reasonable accommodation?
(Note: This questions should be answered with a yes or a no response. The applicant is not required to disclose if an accommodation is needed.)
Questions about Performing Essential Functions that you Cannot Ask:
- Do you have any disabilities, impairments, or illnesses which may affect your performance in this position?
Questions about Specific Duties that you Can Ask:
- This position requires traveling from one local school to another. Can you do that?
- This position involved doing X and Y at Z speed. Can you do X and Y at this speed?
- This position involved taking information over the phone and entering it into a computer. Can you do that?
- This position requires moving construction materials weighing 15 pounds to various parts of a work site. Can you do that?
- This position requires reading to children. Can you do that?
Questions about Specific Duties that you Cannot Ask:
- How do you teach a class when you are Deaf?
- How can someone with your disability drive a truck?
- How can you manage playground duty when you can’t see?
- How can you clear trails, dig a ditch, pull weeds, or mow lawns with your physical limitations?
- What kinds of help will we have to give you so that you can do these tasks?
Some programs require a medical examination or drug testing before participants are allowed to serve. If you require such testing, all applicants must take the test. In other words, you cannot test some applicants and not others. We suggest that you contact National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) at 888.491.0326 (Voice/TTY) www.serviceandinclusion.org; or the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) at 800.526.7234 www.jan.wvu.edu for more guidance.