Let’s shake up the hard, steadfast interview rules that HR professionals and job-seekers buy into and create a more inclusive interview environment so that all qualified candidates can be equally evaluated.
Commonplace job interview advice includes the typical rules such as: look an interviewer in the eye, give a firm handshake, speak clearly and be mindful of body language and movements. This advice does not take into account the hundreds of thousands of job-seekers with disabilities who may not be able to fulfill these “standard” requirements. Currently, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is double the national average. It’s time to challenge these traditional interview ideas so that employers have the ability to access the best talent out there, including those with disabilities who may not perform during an interview.
People on the autism spectrum often can’t look people in the eye; it’s a facet of their disability. This does not translate to a show of disrespect or an inherent unfitness for a job. Firm handshakes don’t always represent confidence and capability. Many people with disabilities may not have full mobility in their hands and employers may be unaware of countless hidden disabilities. A weak handshake is not necessarily equated with disinterest or a lack of confidence. Many with disabilities may not be able to speak clearly or may not be able to speak at all. Interviewers should feel comfortable asking a candidate to repeat himself or herself, instead of risk losing a potentially qualified person because of a communication issue. Some with disabilities may have involuntary motor movements that appear more acute in stressful situations such as an interview. As an interviewer, focus on the resume and the words.
By thinking outside the traditional interview box, HR professionals will have access to the entire labor pool including those with disabilities. Limiting beliefs about interview etiquette simply prevents companies from accessing the best available talent out there.