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Interviewing For A Job

Disclosing a Disability

Telling your employer about your disability is the only way to protect your legal right to any accommodation you might need to get or keep a job. Under the ADA, a person with a disability can choose to disclose at any time, and is not required to disclose at all unless s/he wants to request an accommodation or wants other protection under the law. It is unlikely that you would be protected under the ADA if you disclosed right before you were about to get fired. Employers are most likely to be responsive to a disclosure if they think it is done in good faith and not as a last-ditch effort to keep your job.

If a person meets all of the skills and abilities for the position, discrimination due to disability is illegal. You should understand your options regarding disclosure and your legal rights under ADA. This applies to people with both physical and/or mental disabilities.

VIDEO: “I am in charge”

Disclosing a Disability During a Job Interview: Is it worth the risk?
(adapted from Christy Russell, Salt Lake Community College Projects with Industry)

Many disability professionals suggest disclosing your disability only if you need an accommodation. Others may suggest not saying anything and still others recommend addressing your disability if it is apparent or if you need an accommodation simply to eliminate any fear the employer may have about disabilities. The bottom line is it’s your choice and your choice only.

If you are a person with a disability, you probably already know that an employer cannot openly ask if you have a disability. They can ask if you need an accommodation either on the job, or during the interview process. Interviews are hard for anyone even if you’re not dealing with disability issues.

What is a person to do?
Take a deep breath and practice interviewing with your friends or job counselor. If you need a accommodation on the job, practice asking for one before the job interview. If you do not need an accommodation, focus solely on your skills, strengths and education. This is what the company is most interested in finding out about.

The more you practice, the easier disclosing a disability will be. Employers are most interested in hiring a person who fits well into the company, is reliable and dependable, honest, easy to train, and flexible. Human resource professionals prefer that you ask for an accommodation up front. Employers want to hire people who can start working the first day of the job rather than waiting for the accommodation after you start the job.

Is there a risk in disclosing a disability?
Possibly. Some employers may choose not to hire a person with disability. This is a reality. Even the ADA can’t protect you from this type of attitude all the time.

For a website that discusses disclosing a psychiatric disability:
www.bu.edu/cpr/jobschool/disclosing.htm