The Employment Standard under the AODA states that employers must make the hiring process accessible to applicants and candidates with disabilities. This may leave people wondering how to make the hiring process accessible. Here we outline how employers can create accessible job postings and provide interview accommodations.
How to Make the Hiring Process Accessible
Accessible Job Postings
Many job-seekers with disabilities look for jobs online. You can make your online job postings accessible for people who use computers differently by ensuring that your business’s website complies with WCAG 2.0 web accessibility standards for layout and content. Companies that comply will ensure that more qualified candidates can find out about and apply for positions.
Distinguishing Essential and Non-Essential Responsibilities
When listing qualifications, you should list essential requirements separately from non-essential requirements. People can better determine whether a job is the right fit for them if they know which skills they must have and which skills might be helpful but are not necessary. For instance, many postings ask that candidates be “team players”, an essential skill for some jobs but not others. This requirement could prevent employers from hiring candidates who have all the core skills a posting asks for but have difficulty interpreting social cues.
Another example is postings that require each candidate to have a valid driver’s licence for jobs that involve travelling. This requirement means that employers miss the chance to interview candidates who do not drive but who are experienced at making alternative travel arrangements. Employers who recognize at this stage which job tasks are essential will also be better prepared to accommodate workers who need to trade non-essential tasks with colleagues, or workers who may need to perform only the essential elements of their jobs during periods of stress or illness. Clarity about which job skills are essential will bring you an applicant pool that is larger, more diverse, and more used to thinking outside the box.
Willingness to Accommodate and Contact Information
Your job posting should state that you welcome applications from people with disabilities. You should also explain who applicants should contact if they need accommodations during the application process. This person or department should be available through multiple communication methods, such as phone and email. This is an easy way of how to make the hiring process accessible.
Accommodations people may request before interviews include:
- An American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter
- A quiet location
- An interview scheduled during a time of day when the applicant is most focused or best able to communicate
- A location accessible for someone using a mobility device
- Advance copies of interview questions
- Good lighting
- Seating arrangements where the candidate can see interviewers clearly
Applicants who communicate differently will let you know how they will do so. Some communication styles and methods may include:
- ASL interpretation
- Using hearing aids or Assistive Listening Systems
- Understanding straightforward language instead of figures of speech
- Not making eye contact
- Using Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) devices
Some general tips to keep in mind:
- If you are wondering whether a candidate needs help at any stage of the interview process, ask. The candidate may need help and explain what kind or the candidate may not need help.
- Unless an applicant requests otherwise, speak at a normal pace and volume.
- Speak to the applicant directly, not to a support person.
- Do not touch a service animal or mobility device without its owner’s permission.
- If an applicant does not know how much information to offer in response to a question, let the applicant know when you have received enough information or when you need more.
Accessible Interview Formats
Some applicants may request an alternative interview format, such as a telephone interview rather than a face-to-face one, or an interview over Skype instead of the telephone. Applicants who have difficulty thinking and responding quickly may benefit from more time to formulate responses during the interview. Applicants who have trouble answering hypothetical questions or interacting socially might be best able to show their skills in other ways, such as written questionnaires, skills-based tests, or simulations of job tasks.
Disclosure of Disability during Interviews
Interviewers cannot request a medical diagnosis. They also cannot ask questions about an applicant’s disability unless a question relates to how an applicant would perform certain job tasks. Applicants who disclose their disabilities before or during an interview may offer information about disability and accommodations, while others may focus on other aspects of their backgrounds, such as previous work or educational experiences, that they feel are more relevant.
Employers who know how to make the hiring process accessible will have access to a greater pool of qualified and eager applicants. They will also be able to hold successful interviews with workers who choose not to disclose their disabilities, accommodate existing workers who develop disabilities and do more business with customers or clients with disabilities.