Updated: Jun 15
When starting your recruitment initiatives you want to ensure you have your process ready to accommodate the different needs of applicants. Offering different accommodations is not only the right thing to do, but also the law.
In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to job applicants with disabilities during the interview process. This law was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in employment, and it applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as state and local governments.
Under the ADA, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to job applicants with disabilities, unless doing so would cause an undue hardship to the employer. Below are reasons to provide accommodations, common accommodation requests during the interview, and how you can implement accommodations into the interview process.
Why Provide Accommodations in an Interview?
Promotes Equal Opportunities
Accommodations ensure that all candidates have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their skills and abilities during the interview process, regardless of any disabilities they may have.
Supports Diversity and Inclusion
Offering accommodations signals to candidates that the company values diversity and inclusion and is committed to creating an inclusive workplace where all employees feel valued and supported.
Helps Attract and Retain Talent
By offering accommodations, companies can attract and retain talented individuals who may have otherwise been discouraged from applying or accepting a job offer due to the lack of accessibility and accommodations.
Ensures Compliance with the Law
In many countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, it is a legal requirement for employers to provide reasonable accommodations to candidates with disabilities during the interview process.
Builds a Positive Employer Brand
Providing accommodations during the interview process can enhance a company's reputation as an employer that is committed to diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.
Common Accommodations and How To Offer Them
Offer Remote Interviewing Options
Offering remote interviewing options to a person with a disability can be a way to make the interview process more accessible and inclusive. Here are some steps you can take to offer remote interviewing options:
Ask the Candidate if They Need Any Accommodations
If you know that the candidate has a disability, you can ask them if they need any accommodations for the interview, such as a remote option. You can also provide information on how to request accommodations if they have not already disclosed their disability.
For example, a person with a hearing impairment may need a sign language interpreter. There are many professional sign language interpreting agencies that can provide interpreters for interviews. You can search online for agencies in your area or ask for recommendations from disability organizations like DisabilityIn or even the candidate. When contacting the interpreting agency, provide them with information about the interview, such as the date, time, and location. You should also let them know the duration of the interview and the number of participants.
Provide Extra Time
Applicants with cognitive or learning disabilities may need extra time to process and respond to questions during an interview. They may also need extra time to review materials or complete any tests or assessments that are part of the interview process. Provide this to allow for the best work possible from the applicant.
Individuals with physical disabilities may need extra time to get to the interview location, especially if they require special transportation or assistance. They may also need extra time to move around the interview space or to complete any physical tasks that are part of the interview process. Ensuring your space is accessible prior to the interview will help with this piece.
Individuals with communication disabilities, such as speech or language impairments, may need extra time to communicate their responses during the interview. They may also require additional accommodations, such as an interpreter or assistive technology, which can take extra time to set up and use.
One often over looked condition are medical conditions, such as chronic pain or fatigue. Applicants with a medical condition may need extra time to manage their symptoms during the interview. They may need to take breaks or rest periods during the interview to manage their symptoms.
Use Accessible Video Conferencing Software
Video conferencing software such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet can allow the candidate to participate in the interview remotely. Make sure to test the software in advance to ensure that it is accessible and that the candidate knows how to use it.
Provide Clear Instructions
Provide the candidate with clear instructions on how to access the video conferencing software and any other tools they may need for the interview, such as a microphone or webcam.
While we've said this previously, it bares repeating. Make sure that the video conferencing software and any other tools used for the interview are accessible to the candidate. This may include providing closed captions or a sign language interpreter if needed.
Making sure that documents and digital materials are accessible is important to ensure that everyone can access and understand the information they contain. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your documents and digital materials are accessible to a person with a disability:
Use clear and concise language that is easy to understand, and avoid using technical jargon or complex sentence structures. This includes appropriate formatting, such as headings, bullet points, and numbered lists, to make the content more organized and easier to navigate.
Provide alt text for images to ensure that individuals with visual impairments can understand the content of the image. Alt text should be descriptive and provide the same information that the image conveys. Likewise, use accessible color contrast to ensure that individuals with visual impairments can read the text. The contrast ratio should be at least 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. Creating accessible document formats, such as PDFs with accessible tags or HTML, to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access the information using assistive technology.
Test your documents and digital materials for accessibility using assistive technology or by consulting with
Be open to accommodating the candidate's needs and preferences for the interview. This may include offering alternative formats for the interview, such as a phone call or email exchange. Don't hold judgement or bias against someone requesting an accommodation.
Overall, making sure that your interview processes are accessible requires proactive planning and attention to detail. By taking these steps, you can help ensure that everyone can access and understand the information they need.