Last reviewed: 5 October 2022
An applicant for a vacancy has told you that they have a disability. What should you do?
The answer is: Do the same as you would do for an applicant who hasn’t told you they have a disability – until and unless this person tells you that they need any changes. Here are a few tips on recruiting disabled people.
- Choose candidates to interview because they have the skills, experience and/or knowledge you are looking for. Anything else such as their age, gender, race or disability, if any of these are apparent from the application, are irrelevant.
- Decide how and where the interview will take place. Will it be remote via a platform like Zoom, or do you want to see candidates in person? Do you want candidates to demonstrate their knowledge or skills in a test?
- Give candidates as much information as possible about the interview location. If it will be remote, tell them which platform you plan on using. If it’s in-person, give them the full address and tell every candidate about any steps or stairs, if there is a lift, and information about transport options and parking.
- Tell candidates how many people will be interviewing them and who they are and how long the interview will take. Let them know what will happen as well – for example, they will be asked questions, asked to perform a particular task.
- Give every candidate the opportunity to contact you prior to the interview and give them a range of contact options – for example, email, SMS or WhatsApp, and telephone. Tell them to contact you if there is anything about the interview they want to discuss or if there any changes they need for the interview.
- If a candidate lets you know about a disability, ask them what changes if any, they need. Try not to make assumptions based on their disability. It might be that they don’t need any changes at all, or it could be something very simple such as somewhere for their assistance dog to sit while the candidate is interviewed.
- Be prepared to be flexible. If something is making it difficult for a candidate to show their skills, see if a simple change would make it easier. For example, a different online platform might be more accessible and easier to install and use. Perhaps you could use a different room which is on the ground floor to interview someone, or provide electronic copies of documents to read rather than print-outs. Some people might use technology to read out documents that they can’t read easily on paper.
- Don’t ask the candidate questions about their health or disability at the interview. Asking such questions is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 prior to job offer. Concentrate instead on asking them how they will perform the job tasks and their skills and experience. For more information about what the law says you can ask candidates, see our resource ‘Can I ask candidates questions about disability?’
- The candidate might need changes or adjustments to the way they do the job, but these can be discussed after you’ve made the job offer (which can be conditional on getting these adjustments in place). If you are worried about cost remember that a Government Scheme called Access to Work can help. Most adjustments, however, are free or very cheap.
- If the disabled person is the best candidate for the job, then you should hire them! Not doing so is both unlawful and damaging to both them and your business.
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