Applying for jobs and performing well at interviews can be challenging and stressful, even more so for people with disability. People with disability experience a wide range of inherent barriers to looking for and keeping work. From discriminatory attitudes during recruitment to low levels of awareness of employment rights and poor physical or technological accessibility. JobAccess General Manager Daniel Valiente-Riedl answers commonly asked questions to help people with disability be more confident in their job search and get a step closer to the finish line.

Where do I start?

A good starting point is to identify employers who are disability confident. An easy way to do so is by reviewing their website and identifying diversity statements within their ‘careers’ or ‘about us’ pages.

You can also visit the JobAccess website to view a list of organisations we have partnered with in the past and who remain committed to workplace diversity. Another service which supports employers on disability confidence is the Australian Network on Disability, which also showcases a list of member organisations promoting disability employment.

You can then make a list of available jobs that interest you. Understand the tasks involved in these jobs and make sure you can safely perform all or most of these tasks.

How do I put together a good job application?

Don’t underestimate the importance of a well-written application—a good first impression can help you secure the job. Before you start writing the application, remember to research the employer and the position you are applying for. Identify your skills, knowledge, experience and qualifications that suit the advertised position.

When preparing the application, don’t provide too much information and only include your skills and experience that are relevant to the job. Make the application clear, to the point and easy to read by using standard fonts at around 12-point size and applying spaces between paragraphs.

I made it to the interview! What can I do to prepare?

Being prepared for your interview will go a long way to make you feel more confident about how you perform. Think about what skills and attributes the job requires and prepare answers to possible questions in advance. For example, during the interview, the employer may ask why they should choose you for the job or how do your abilities and qualities meet the job requirements?

You may also wish to ask a friend or family member to practise with you and get an idea of how you will answer these questions.

Should I discuss my disability with the potential employer?

According to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), there is no legal obligation for you to share information about your condition with the employer unless it affects your ability to do the job, impacts your safety and the safety of your co-workers.

Mentioning your disability can create trust and an open relationship with your potential employer and co-workers. It allows you to talk about how you will perform your tasks to the necessary standards and discuss any changes to the workplace to help you do your job.

Things to consider before the interview

If your disability could affect how you perform essential elements of the job, you may need to think about changes to your work area or working hours. Such changes are called ‘workplace adjustments’ and may enable you to be equally considered during the selection process. The employer may get help to cover the cost of making reasonable workplace adjustments through the Employment Assistance Fund (EAF). You can print an information sheet about the EAF and consider discussing it with the employer at the interview.

Are there any supports available to participate in the interview?

If you require support to attend and participate in an interview, you can discuss your access requirements with the potential employer. For example, if you have hearing loss, you may require a sign language interpreter to be present at the interview. If you have a vision impairment, you may need detailed instructions and extra time to find the location of the interview.

Employers are required to consider your access requirements and take appropriate steps to accommodate you at the interview.

Access Auslan interpreters for interviews

If you have hearing loss and require a sign language (Auslan) interpreter to be present at the interview, your Disability Employment Service (DES) provider can help you organise this. If you do not have a DES provider, you may be eligible to obtain funding for an Auslan interpreter through the Employment Assistance Fund. Get in touch with JobAccess for assistance with the EAF application process.

What can the employer ask about my disability during the interview?

If you choose to share information about your disability in your application or before the interview, an employer can only ask questions about how your disability relates to doing the job and working safely. The employer can ask how you think the workplace or working hours could be changed to help you perform better in the role. Or how to keep the workplace safe for you and everyone else.

Your employer or colleagues cannot ask personal questions about your lifestyle or general questions about your health and disability.

Why discussing your disability may help?

If you and your employer agree to make changes to the workplace, you can tell your employer about the EAF. This fund may provide financial assistance to help pay for the costs of modifying the workplace or purchasing special equipment.

If you have been upfront about your mental health condition and you become unwell, your employer is likely to be more understanding if you need time off. Your employer will probably also be more willing to make changes to accommodate your needs.

How can I promote my skills to the employer?

People with disability often have more to offer an employer than they realise. When looking for work, identify and list your strengths and weaknesses. Think about the skills, interests and abilities you can offer an employer. And be honest about any limitations you know you have.

When talking to employers, be confident about your skills and circumstances and keep discussions to the point. Use positive words such as “I can…” to highlight your skills, knowledge and experience to explain how you’ll get the job done; don’t focus too much on the disability.

Good luck—your next job might be just around the corner!

For more information about preparing for interviews and additional resources, visit www.jobaccess.gov.au. Or speak with a JobAccess Adviser on 1800 464 800.

Ready to read more? Try these Inform links:

Episode 11: Talking About Your Disability at Work

Why I’m bucking the ‘disabled people cannot work’ trend

How workplace adjustments can help you achieve your employment goals

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