Hey, everybody, Don Georgevich here with Job Interview Tools. And today, I’m going to talk to you about a topic that I’ve never really covered before on my channel and it’s interviewing with a disability.
And I’m going to be the first one to tell you; I have no business advising you on how to interview with a disability because I don’t have one.
But what I’m hoping that I can do is to help you understand how an interviewer perceives someone with a disability and what they’re looking for. And I’m mainly creating this video for a client of mine, Paul, because Paul wrote in and I’m just going to read you what he said.
“Don, I have some of your materials, but I always have trouble being offered the job after the interview.”
“I’ve been blind since I was five years old. And this is something that’s confusing and difficult to get used to for lots of people who don’t understand what blindness is.”
“So, I wonder if employers are extra wary of hiring me because they’re uncomfortable with that nervous feeling that they have about what blindness means.”
He goes on to say;
“In a panel interview, it’s difficult for me to make eye contact with everybody.”
Because I’m always telling people to make eye contact with your interviewer. So, if you’re blind, I mean, how are you going to do that? That’s worthless advice.
So, he goes on to say,
“I always feel like I’m out in left field and that everybody around me is uncomfortable.”
And he says,
“When the interview was over, I always feel that everyone breathed a sigh of relief that we’re done and we can move on and get this guy out of here.”
He goes on to say,
“80 percent of people who are blind never have a job at all.”
And he goes,
“But what does that mean for me?”
And he says,
“You know, on the other hand, friends of mine who know me, they forget that I’m blind and they don’t even think of me as being blind because my degree of independence, intellect and breadth of knowledge and scope of understanding.”
And he says,
“I think employers would feel the same way if they actually got to know me the way that my friends know me.”
“And what would you do?”
You know, I got to say — I told them, I said;
“I’ve never been blind. I’ve never had a disability. So, this is really difficult for me to tell you what I would do and how you should act.”
But I picked up on a thread of his where he said that friends of his don’t even see him as being blind. So, what I suggested to him that he do is to take that to heart, knowing that he has the ability to communicate with people, his body language, his vocal tones, his tone of voice are compensating for his blindness.
I mean, if he’s talking to friends who don’t even realize he’s blind, that means his body is compensating for the visual disability.
And when I think about it, there are many times where I talk to people where I’m not looking at them; whether maybe I’m talking to them on the phone, maybe I’m driving my car and I’m not turning over and looking at him. I’m looking at the road, but I’m still talking to them. I’m still carrying on a conversation.
That’s the level that you need to be at or anyone who’s blind needs to be at when they’re in a job interview. I mean, what you need to do is make the people around you feel comfortable. That is your job is to make them feel comfortable.
And right now, with a visual blindness, they’re probably going to feel slightly uncomfortable. So, you need to show them that they can feel comfortable around you. And one way to do this is to call attention to your disability; whether it’s blindness or whatever it is.
First thing in the interview, let them know, “Hey, I’m blind, but I don’t want that to be a distraction for any of you.” And you need to say it in a way that commands attention.
You can’t just say, “I’m blind. And I know that might be a distraction for you guys, but I’m going to go on.” You need to take control. You need to command them. I mean, since you can’t see them, you need to step up, take control of the interview.
And you can do this with your body language. You can still move your shoulders. You can still move your body. You can still raise your voice. You can talk in a deep voice. I mean, maybe you don’t have to look at them, obviously, because you’re not going to see them. I mean, you can point your head in their direction. I believe that if you’re blind, you can still use your ears to target where their voice is coming from and you can give them the perception that you are looking at them that will help them visually.
And that’s really what you need to do, is you need to help them and guide them to focus on you and what you’re saying. They don’t necessarily need to make eye contact with you for you to get your point across. If they can hear you, if they can hear your voice and it’s directed directly at them and you’re telling them what they want to hear, you’re going to be able to communicate with them just as well, if not better, than someone who can see.
I mean, seeing can also be a distraction. There are other things in the room that distract us from what we’re trying to say. But when all of that is blocked out, that allows you to focus more on what is important to the employer.
And that is all they really care about. They’re not so concerned about your disability and that you can’t see. And maybe they feel uncomfortable. If you can target them as to what their needs are, what they’re looking for, what problems they have, and how you can be a solution to those, they’re going to be all ears. They’re going to hear everything that you have to say.
But this also comes with the responsibility of you stepping up and outside of your comfort zone and somewhat taking control of the interview and guiding them.
Don’t let them guide you through the interview. Because if that happens, if you just follow them through the entire interview process, you’re probably done before you even started. But if you can step in to their world and just take control of that interview, I don’t mean own it, but guide them and help them understand what you can do.
I’ll give you a little example here. A while ago (many years ago) I was actually speeding (if you can believe that). And I was pulled over by a police officer who wrote me a ticket and I had to go to court.
And when I went to court, I figured, I’ll just go in there and I’ll tell them that I’m really sorry I was speeding or maybe I’ll tell them that I really wasn’t speeding at all. It was a mistake. Whatever it was, I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.
But I was going to come up with just some lame excuse (like most people do, who try to contest their speeding tickets).
So, I went in front of the judge and I started to tell him my story. Well, the judge was actually blind; physically blind. Not like justice is blind and couldn’t see anything, but he was really blind.
And you know what? He saw right through me and he just cut me off at the knees. And so, he’s like, “So, basically, you were speeding, right?” I’m like, “Yeah.” “Okay, great. Well, the fine for that is $150. Case closed.”
I mean, it went on a little bit longer than that, but he took control of the situation; he owned it. He commanded it. He couldn’t see me, but that was probably a benefit because he couldn’t see what I look like, he couldn’t see that I had a sincere, apologetic facial expressions. All he could do is he could hear my voice and he could probably hear my voice crackling and hear that I was nervous.
So, his hearing compensated for his lack of eyesight. And to him, that was an advantage because he’s just listening to my lame excuse and everybody else’s a lame excuse and he’s not distracted by the visual presence. So, this allowed him to just cut through all the B.S. and say, “You’re guilty. Case closed.”
And if you think about it, if you go into a job interview, you need to be in the same position. You need to step up and listen to what that employer is saying; listen to what their needs are; listen to what they’re trying to do. And say, “You know what?” I can do that. Here’s how I would do that” and just cut right through and ask them questions back to show them that you understand what challenges they are facing.
That’s really one of the best ways to get closer to the job, is to ask the employer questions about what they’re trying to do, to show them that you understand what they’re facing.
And they don’t care if you have a disability. They don’t care if you’re blind. All they care about is can you do this job? Could you do it better than anyone else? And maybe you can and maybe you can’t. But that’s the whole point of the interview, is to go in there and to show them what you can do.
And if you can’t do this visually, you do this vocally. I would strongly encourage you to use your voice, use the rule of 7, 38, 55. You know what that is? That’s a communication rule. And what that means is 7 percent of the words you speak are just words, and that’s all people hear. So, if you just go into an interview, you just talk like this, they’re only hearing 7 percent. They’re only grasping 7 percent of what you’re trying to communicate.
When you bring in vocal tones; when you raise your voice, you lower your voice, you strengthen your voice, you tighten it up and you communicate through your voice, now 38 percent of your message is heard.
Now, you bring in body language; that’s another 55 percent; facial expressions, putting back your shoulders, anything to do with your body; using your hands to communicate.
So, just because you can’t see doesn’t mean you can’t use your hands, it doesn’t mean you can’t use facial expressions when you speak, it doesn’t mean you can’t raise your voice or lower your voice, it doesn’t mean that you can’t point your head in their direction and give them the perception that you are looking at them and speaking to them. This will help them overcome their level of discomfort that they have talking to someone who is blind.
And if you put all these things together, I’m not saying it’s going to help you get the job, because there’s just so many factors that are involved. But it’s going to help you communicate your message about what you can do and what you can deliver and how you can help them grow.
I mean, I have worked with people who were blind before. I’ve had coaching calls with people. And you know what? I don’t even realize that they’re blind because everything else about them, all of their other senses, their body language has compensated for the disability of blindness.
And as long as they can speak, as long as they can hear, that’s better than 90 percent of it right there. Sure, being blind is going to prevent you from doing a lot of different jobs, but there are a lot of jobs that it won’t prevent you. I mean, just for example, if you could be on the phone and talking to people all day long, helping them solve problems. You know, working in customer service. You could literally be on the phone and just helping people solve problems all day long with your voice, with your words, with your knowledge. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I mean, sure, there are jobs that you can’t do, but you already know that. You know what your limitations are. But I’m betting that you’re putting more restraints on what you think your limitations are than what you’re actually capable of.
So, that one, my friend, that goes out to Paul. And after I shared with Paul what I thought he should do, he really felt a renewed sense of energy and he was just ready to go out there in those interviews and just doing the very best that he can, knowing that, probably, maybe nine out of 10 of them aren’t going to work out. But you know what? There’s always that one.
So, on the topic of disabilities; I always get ask questions about, “Don, how do I interview with a disability?” And not just blindness, but I’ve had a lot of people write in and they’re like, “Don, I have a mental disability” or “I have a physical disability where I can’t lift a certain amount of weight. What should I do? Should I tell the employer that I have a disability or should I try to hide it? And every case is different.
Now, I’ve had, like I said, I’ve had a lot of people write in saying, “I have a mental disability, but I have gone to therapy and I don’t have this disability anymore. Should I bring it up?”
And my number one answer for all of the situations is only bring up a disability in a job interview if your disability is going to in any way impair you from doing the job. So, don’t lie about it. But I mean, if you have an issue with lifting, maybe you have a sore back, there is no reason to bring that up in the interview unless that job says, “We expect you to be able to do some light lifting.”
If that’s the case, don’t hide that you can’t lift. Bring it up in the interview and say, “You know what? I have a weak back and I won’t be able to do those 20 pounds or 30-pound lifts. Is that going to be an issue for you?”
Or with the mental disability, if it’s no longer an issue because you’ve had therapy, there’s no reason to bring it up because you have been healed.
Now, if you have a mental disability and it hasn’t healed yet, only bring that up if that disability is going to be a concern.
Now, there are so many different kinds of disabilities, mental disabilities, and I am not in any position prepared to talk about those. This is something that you have to know what you were capable of.
And if your disability is going to inhibit you from doing the job, then bring it up to the to the employer and share that with them and ask them if that’s going to be a concern, if there’s anything that we can do to sidestep that.
But if it’s not going to be a concern, if it’s not going to be an issue, there’s no reason to really bring it up.
I mean, you need to be fair to yourself as well. I mean, everybody has things about them that aren’t perfect. I mean, maybe they don’t have physical disabilities, but everybody has little things about them that aren’t perfect. Nobody is going to go into the interview and just dump everything that they’re not good at because it’s not relevant. If it’s not relevant to the job then don’t bring it up.
So, that, my friend, is all I have for you today. And I know I am in no position to tell you how to interview with a disability because I don’t have a physical disability, but I’m only trying to share with you what I think you should do and how interviewers are going to perceive you with a disability.
And like I said earlier, you have a harder job. You have to help your interviewers, help other people around you, to feel comfortable with your presence. And share with them that, “You know what? I have a disability, this is what it is”, and then you get down to business, which means you start focusing on what’s important to them.
I mean, they are not so much concerned that you have a disability as to whether that disability is going to prevent you from doing the job. That, my friend, really is all the employer cares about. I mean, otherwise, they wouldn’t have even brought you in for the interview. Seriously.
So, I hope this helps you get closer. I hope this helps you interview better. I hope this helps you connect better with employers and understand that they’re only going to feel uncomfortable around you if you make them feel uncomfortable.
And then you can get down to business. You can talk about the job because that’s what you’re there for. You’re not there to talk about your disability. You are there to talk about what you can do for them. And that’s really all they want.
So, again, I hope this video helps you. Let me know in the comments if I’m right or if I’m wrong on any of these things. But hopefully, this is just a lot of straight up common sense that’s going to help you align yourself a little bit better in a job interview and to kind of push that disability aside and present the best version of you in the interview.
All right, my friend, good luck on your next interview. And I will see you in the next video. Take care. Bye now.