We all know how stressful job interviews can be. Whether you’re applying for your first job, changing career or trying to get a promotion, you will have enough on your plate without worrying about hearing loss. We’ve put together some tips to help you get through the big day.
Do you need to tell them?
You are not required by law to reveal a health condition to your employer if you don’t want to. The Equality Act 2010 protects disabled employees from workplace discrimination, including application forms, cover letters, interview arrangements, aptitude tests and job offers.
During the recruitment process, the employer can only you ask limited questions about your health, for example to find out if you need reasonable adjustments during the interview (such as access to a hearing loop system) and to find out if you can perform the essential tasks of the job. They may also ask about your hearing loss for national security checks and to monitor employee diversity.
Remember that if the employer does not know about your disability, they do not have to make adjustments. If you know you will need adjustments in order to do the interview or perform the main tasks of the job, it’s a good idea to tell your employer in advance. It’s also important to remember that the employer cannot be accused of discrimination if they do not know about the disability.
Before the interview
The number one tip for any job interview is to do your research first. Being prepared will boost your confidence and assure your interviewer of your abilities. In particular, think about how your previous experience and skills are useful for this job. Be ready with examples of your success in the workplace, regardless of your hearing loss. Interviewers often ask about your strengths and weaknesses. Prepare these answers in advance, but remember that your hearing loss is NOT a weakness.
If you are willing to disclose your hearing loss and will require adjustments for the interview, let the employer know beforehand so they have time to prepare. As well as hearing equipment, you can also request a quiet and brightly-lit interview room and a seat directly opposite your interviewer, so you can be sure to catch their gestures and lip-read if necessary. Think about what adjustments you may need for the job and prepare a list of questions for the employer to make sure they can provide them.
Make sure you are familiar with your hearing aid settings, so you can use the right one during the interview. If the interview will take place in a noisy environment or has multiple interviewees, choose a program that can block background noise. Otherwise, a conversation-enhancing setting should do the trick.
If you are invited for a phone interview and would prefer a face-to-face interview, simply let them know.
During the interview
If you are using a closed-captioned phone during a telephone interview, let the interviewer know, so they can understand if there are gaps between their questions and your answers.
In a face-to-face interview, make sure you are facing the interviewer. If you need to change seat or move to a brighter area, let them know and tell them why.
Don’t be afraid to ask them to speak more slowly or to repeat a question. It’s more important that you understand correctly so you can provide a strong – and correct - answer.
Remember that the interviewer might not be up-to-date with new hearing technologies. Be ready to explain the device you are using, how it works and why it is useful. This will put them at ease and help them understand how you will use similar technologies in the workplace.
If you are comfortable discussing it, be ready to provide examples of how you have managed your hearing loss in other work environments, including how you have worked with previous employers to find effective solutions. However the main point of the interview should be your professional skills and capabilities. If you feel that the interview is focusing too much on your hearing loss, bring the conversation back to your suitability for the job. Don’t highlight problems and limitations, but stress abilities and options, using friendly and non-demanding language.
Aim to be natural, positive and professional. The point of the interview is to convince them that you are the right person for the job, and if you are confident in your abilities and skills, they will be more likely to consider you for the position. Good luck!
If you’d like any more information about hearing loss and hearing solutions for the workplace, get in touch with us.