Talent Knows No Limits
Young man with visual impairment
Keep the conversation steered toward your abilities, not your disabilities.

Job Seeker's Toolkit



In this section:

Attention-Getting Resumes

Chronological and Functional Resumes

Cover Letters

Pre-Employment Testing

Interviewing Skills

Interview Accommodations


Interview Accommodations

Typical interview accommodations - Some of these are obvious. If a person uses a wheelchair, the interview location, including the rest room, must be accessible. If the job seeker has difficulty communicating due to a hearing or speech disorder, some alternative method of communication must be used, such as an interpreter. Having materials in accessible formats for someone who is blind or visually impaired is also typical.

Other interview accommodations - What if the person simply interviews poorly, possibly due to cognitive limitations? What if testing is a standard part of the interview process for the job, and the person tests poorly? Will typical hiring procedures allow the employer to fully evaluate whether the applicant can perform the essential functions of the position? If not, then possible accommodations could be:

The One-Stop staff or job seeker will have to advocate for this type of accommodation with the employer, requesting it as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. Such strategies should be used judiciously, and only in cases where the standard interviewing and hiring procedures put the individual at a disadvantage for equal consideration.

Explaining Interview Accommodations to the Employer

There are always pluses and minuses to using any type of accommodation for interviews. The decision of whether to request an interview accommodation should depend on how the accommodation will positively impact the chances of the individual getting the job versus the potential negative impact of using such an accommodation. If an interview accommodation is necessary, the job seeker should explain the accommodation to the employer. For example, if an interpreter is to be used, interpreter etiquette (such as directing questions at the individual and not the interpreter) should be discussed ahead of time. Remember that an employer may have never used such an accommodation before. It is important to emphasize how an accommodation will assist the employer in making an educated hiring decision, and to ensure that the employer is completely comfortable with the accommodation so that it does not become a distraction to the hiring process.

Non-Apparent Disabilities & Disclosure

When dealing with a non-apparent or "hidden" disability (i.e., a disability that is not readily apparent to most people), the issues are less clear. Is it a good idea to disclose? Not disclose? Such a complicated decision requires consideration of the following:

Dealing Openly with Disability

If disclosure is decided upon, it is crucial that the job seeker project an image of capability. An employer will be concerned with the individual’s ability to perform the necessary job functions. The job seeker must explain a disability so that

The manner in which a disability is explained and/or accommodations are requested, including the words used, can have an enormous impact on the employer’s perception of the person’s capabilities. Instead of using a "disability label", describe it in functional terms that explain the impact of the disability. Simply stating, "I have an anxiety disorder" could create significant questions. A better alternative would be to say, "I have a condition that causes me to become anxious at times. When it happens I may temporarily lose focus, but in past jobs, I’ve managed it fine by just having a quiet workspace. If you hire me, I’d work together with you to set up my workspace so it would work out for both of us".

Remember: Answer honestly, but keep your response short and to the point-- don’t invite a long discussion about the subject, giving it more attention than it merits. Keep the conversation steered toward your abilities, not your disabilities.

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This information was developed in partnership with the EmployABILITY program of the City of Los Angeles Community Development Department, created in collaboration with the Los Angeles City Workforce Investment Board, to create career empowerment for persons with disabilities.

Employability Partnership       Workforce Investment Board       Work Source California Building Business and Careers