Human Resources
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Interviewing Persons with Disabilities

Employers with 15 or more employees must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects persons with disabilities from discrimination in hiring and treatment on the job.

According to the EEOC guidelines, the following questions are acceptable questions during an interview:

  • Can you perform the essential functions of this job, with or without reasonable accommodations?
  • Describe how you would perform the essential functions of the job.
  • Can you meet the attendance requirements of this job?

The following three keys facilitate legal interview questioning:

  1. Avoid inquiry or comment that requires an employee to reveal or talk about an illness or disability
  2. Focus questions and comments on job-related topics.
  3. Focus on the positive: “How will you perform ….?” as opposed to “Is there anything that prevents you from ….?”

The following questions may not be asked while conducting an interview:

  • Do you have (name of disease)?
  • Do you have a disability that would interfere with your ability to perform the job?
  • How many days were you sick last year?

The following example illustrates both incorrect and the correct methods of eliciting information:

The candidate for a telephone sales job is obviously blind as reasonably deducted based on appearance and tools (walking stick and/or trained guide dog).

The interviewer MAY NOT SAY: “I imagine that with your blindness you’d have some difficulty filling in our call forms and keeping track of the results or your calls. In what ways do you think your blindness would interfere with your sales job?”

The interviewer MAY PHRASE THE QUESTION AS FOLLOWS: “This job requires that you ask questions from our telemarketing script and record the results of your calls. How would you perform these essential functions of this job with reasonable accommodation?”

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