Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

How Do I Video Interview…Candidates with Disabilities?

Every candidate comes with their own set of unique interviewing challenges. That’s why we’re tackling how to video interview different types of candidates with this how-to series. Today, we’ll be talking about how to use video interviews to connect with candidates who have a disability. Before the interview, there are several things you need to know to make sure you stay compliant with best practice guidelines.

In the interview, you want to focus on a candidate’s skills and qualifications for the job. Whether or not a candidate has a disability, a good video interview will stay focused on key aspects of the job instead of outside attributes of the candidate. 

Some hiring managers can get nervous they will say the wrong thing or ask the wrong question to a candidate with disabilities. Before a video interview with any candidate, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re looking for in your ideal worker and you understand interviewing legalities.

In other words, it’s important to focus on abilities, not disabilities, in the interview process.

Here are some things you should know before you start up the webcam to conduct your video interview:

Preparation is Key
Before the video interview, prepare by looking up what’s legal and what’s illegal to ask in an interview setting. Browse both the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website and pay special attention to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If you do your homework and pay attention to the guidelines outlined in the ADA, you’ll go a long way toward asking good questions while avoiding questions that can be seen as discriminatory.

Use a Set Criteria For Everyone
One of the best ways to avoid discriminatory hiring practices is to develop a set hiring criteria. This way all candidates are judged based on the same rubric and no one gets an upper hand.

Before speaking to any candidates, gather your hiring team for an important brainstorming session. Look at the position you’re hiring for and decide the essential qualifications, skills, and personality of your ideal employee. Maybe you need someone who knows a certain computer program or someone who is an ace at customer service.

Once you’ve put together a workable set of standards and made your employee wish list, all candidates can be judged based on this static criteria. Candidates with disabilities will have the same chance to impress as any other candidate sitting on the other side of the webcam in a video interview.

Keep Questions Job-Related
The most important way to keep compliant with both the EEOC and the ADA is to make sure all questions are relevant and related specifically to the position and organizational fit.

If a candidate’s disability would have no bearing whatsoever on job functions and responsibilities, there’s no need to ask any questions related to it. If the disability has the potential to affect work performance, ask only about how a candidate would handle the specific job functions that could be impacted.

Once again, you want to focus on abilities instead of disabilities. When hiring a great candidate, you need to know what value the job seeker can bring to your organization. Preparation is again important when it comes to asking the right questions. 

Here are some examples of good and bad questions concerning a candidate’s disability:

  • Good Question: If the job has a requirement to lift a certain number of pounds, you can ask the candidate how they will meet this requirement. This is an already formed criteria to which all candidates who interview for the job are expected to adhere.
  • Bad Question: You can tell the candidate you’re speaking to in the video interview is in a wheelchair, so you ask how long they’ve been wheelchair-bound. This is a bad question for a variety of reasons, mostly because it’s a personal question with almost no impact on how the candidate would perform the job. It has no bearing on qualifications, work history, or organizational fit.

Interviewing candidates with disabilities isn’t a tricky proposition if you’re prepared, have set criteria, and ask good questions. If you keep compliant with regulations, you can find a great candidate who will become a great employee at your company.

What are some ways you make sure you stay compliant in your interviews? Share in the comments.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Fu Man Jew

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).