Five Tips for Interviewing Candidates Who Use a Wheelchair

by Leigh Milligan, Senior Editor, INALJ Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee

Five Tips for Interviewing Candidates Who Use a Wheelchair

leigh.milliganIn September I wrote the blog, Five Tips on Going on an Interview in A Wheelchair. The blog actually was a success, and I received some very positive feedback. One of the suggestions I got was to write a sequel to this blog, tips for the employers doing the interviewing. I thought this was a fabulous idea and set out to find some people very knowledgeable on the topic and some additional resources. I spoke with a couple different people at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia, where I am a volunteer librarian in their resource center. I was finally pointed in the direction of the human resources manager who gave me several great resources.

Now with that, here are 5 tips for interviewing those who use Wheelchairs for Employment.

1. Make sure the location where you are conducting the interview is accessible to the candidate. For example, if there is a chair that will be in the way of the wheelchair, move it. If the drinking foundation is not accessible, make sure to provide fresh water. Make sure the public bathrooms are accessible to the candidate; otherwise be prepared to provide reasonable accommodations such as a private employee bathroom.

2. Do not ask the questions about their disability, such as their medical condition, how they will get to work or if they will need to leave work for medical treatment. These are not legal questions to ask according to the American Disabilities Act. Only ask questions that will let you know that the candidate is qualified and is able to do the job. Asking if they will be able to follow an attendance policy is ok to ask as well.

3. If you are going to do something during the interview such as a test or a presentation, make sure you are able to provide reasonable accommodations such as a different format. If there is writing involved, make sure the surface provided is accessible to a person in a wheelchair.

4. Do not patronize the person using a wheel such as patting them on the head. Do not touch or lean on the wheelchair or push the wheelchair unless asked. Offer to help the candidate but do not help unless help is requested. Be prepared to be declined to help, most candidates in wheelchairs will have no problems getting around. Do not be offended if your help is declined, please be courteous.

5. Be relaxed. Do not feel uncomfortable using phrases such as “let’s walk over here.” Talk to the candidate as you would talk to any other candidate. Make eye contact, but do not stare.

I hope these tips are helpful and useful to those search committees and hiring managers interviewing those in wheelchairs. While I have provided you with five tips, there are many more great tips for interviewing those using wheelchairs. I have provided some additional resources below.

Employer Tips on Interviewing Applicants with Disabilities article_id=2

Techniques for Interviewing a Person with A Disability

Focus on Ability: Interviewing Applicants with Disabilities