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How to do a successful interview loop with a deaf candidate

Let's visualise the following situation...

Your company have a vacancy and a job offer has been posted.

Within a few days you receive some job applications and you start making a list of the possible candidates who will be invited for interview.

Now you see that one of these successful candidates has self-identified as deaf.

Knowing that, there will need to be careful consideration about how to remove potential barriers that may hinder a successful interviewing experience for all parties.

A good way to start would be to ask how can your company help accommodate the job candidate’s communication needs during the interview process.⁠

We have put together some short guidelines that might help create a positive experience for everyone involved:

  • First of all, you might need to contact the deaf candidate by email or any other way but calling to their phone. Remember: He/she is deaf. Definitely don’t leave a voicemail when they don’t answer your call!

  • Let the job candidate choose their preferred interpreter or interpreting service company and make the arrangements for them if needed. The interpreter will help facilitate the flow of conversation back and forth.

  • If the deaf job candidate decide to arrange the job interview with an interpreter, always remember to address the deaf person directly and make respectful eye contact, don't look at the interpreter. We know that sign language can be hypnotic to watch, but you are having a conversation with the deaf person. (Read this basic guidelines on how to work with a sign language interpreter)

TOP TIP: The interpreters are there to help the candidate communicate as much as they are there for you.

  • The signer will interpret everything you are saying. Remember they include whispers and background talking. Believe me, it will be really awkward if you sneak in a comment that will (but maybe should not) be shared. Seriously, don't do this – you would not do this for a hearing person would you?

  • The environment. Try to conduct the meeting in a well-lit room away from lots of external noise or visual disruptions. Sit down in front of the applicant and the interpreter next to you.

If the deaf candidate is qualified for the role, then you will need to ask them about which accommodations would help them succeed in their role. They might need assistive technology, apps and online tools to carry out their job responsibilities without impediments. (Read how the Government grant scheme Access to Work AtW can pay for support and equipment in the workplace).

  • Treat the job candidate with respect and don't patronise them. And also, and above all, don't say things like "You speak very well for someone who is deaf", "Wait, you can drive?" or "Oh! You are deaf? I'm so sorry...". (Read more about Audism).

  • Relax. If you are unsure of the appropriate way to proceed in a particular situation, just ask, if you are curious it will be perfectly OK to ask a question of the deaf person.

Just follow these simply and common sense rules and the job interview will be easy and mistake free. And if you want to master the situation, you can improve your Deaf Awareness and research how to interact with a Deaf person. Success guaranteed!


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