How to discuss your disability in a job interview

Wondering if, when, or how to disclose your disability in a job interview?

Bringing up a disability in a job interview requires thought and planning. You may feel uncertain about disclosing your disability at all. But ultimately, it’s up to you to decide the time, the setting, and the degree of information to share.

Are you required to tell an employer about your disability?

No. Disclosure of a disability is not required. But job candidates should be aware that once disclosure of a disability or an accommodation request is made, employers may ask the employee about the limitations related to the job and are permitted to make medical inquiries.

When is the best time to disclose a disability?

If you have a visible disability, you may want to anticipate the concerns of the employer. Consider taking charge during the first interview to talk about your disability and how you would handle any impact on the job. You may want to describe any accommodation you use, how it helps your performance, or demonstrate how you would perform difficult functions.

What should I say?

Many experts suggest disclosing before a job offer in order to communicate self-confidence and refocus the employer’s attention on your ability to do the job. Some people with non-visible disabilities may choose not to disclose their disability at all.

Share examples of the strategies you use to do your work. For example, a candidate with low vision might say: “In my previous work, I was responsible for maintaining our inventory. I created a labeling system with a good color contrast that I could see easily. It turns out that this was a benefit for others as well.”

Let the interviewer know that you would be glad to answer any questions they might have about how you would do your work and the accommodations you use. Being open and direct about your disability will help put the interviewer at ease, which is a critical factor in whether you receive a call for a second interview.

Get more ideas on disclosing a disability from the Job Accommodation Network, or see the 411 on disability disclosure workbook, developed by TransCen, Inc. for the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. It was written with young people in mind but is an excellent resource for all ages.

Want more tips and resources for navigating employment with a disability?

Visit CareerOneStop’s Resources for workers with disabilities.

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