Disclosing Your Disability in an Interview
Finding a job can be tough. Conducting a job search when you have a disability can present extra challenges. If your disability is visible, your interviewer may have questions about your ability to do the job. You should be prepared for these questions, and you can do that by first making contact with the Job Accommodation Network. With information about the nature of the job and your disability, the professionals at the Job Accommodation Network can help you determine which accommodations will be helpful to you in performing the functions of the job.
If your disability is visible, it is best to address it directly early on in the interview. Because human nature is what it is, a failure to disclose the visible disability may result in the interviewer going through the motions, trying to be careful not to break any laws, but focusing less on your answers. It is better to address the disability up front, point out that it will not impact your ability to perform the functions of the job, or that it will require only minimal accommodations. Although there is no guarantee, this approach is your best bet at getting the interviewer's attention focused where you want it-on your ability to do the job.
If your disability is not visible, it is up to you as to when or if you ever disclose it. In most cases, I have advised clients to wait until after an offer is extended to disclose any disability. After you have agreed upon the terms of employment and have established a starting date, you should mention any accommodations you may need so that the employer can have them in place for you when you start. If your disability is not visible and you do not need any accommodations at this point, there is no reason to discuss the disability at all. While some clients have felt "dishonest" about this approach, the truth is that, unfortunately, discrimination still exists, and the more you give the people around you the chance to get to know the real you, the less likely they will hold on to prejudicial attitudes when they do find out about your disability.
Excerpted from Job Search Handbook for People with Disabilities by Daniel J. Ryan with permission from JIST Publishing.