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Overcome A Physical Disability And Ace Your Interview

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In today’s post, I’m in a discuss tips on how you can overcome physical disabilities, where any other medical conditions that might impede your success in a job interview.

Last week I was helping out some managers in the company hire for a marketing position. Interviewing is something that I do quite frequently as an HR professional. I’ve been part of quite a few job interviews in my 1 year career in HR and just when I think I’ve seen it all, something new comes up. So let me tell you bit more about the candidate that we interviewed.

The candidate, let’s call her “Jane”, while she did not have the strongest resume, it was good enough to catch the attention of the hiring manager and warrant an interview. As the hiring managers was becoming increasingly nervous about filling this position, she along with the rest of the interview panel was all very excited to meet this talented individual to see if she would be a good fit for the position.

So we begin the interview with introductions, and so I reached out to introduce myself and shake the candidate’s hand. Jane looked at my outstretched arm, hesitated for quite some time, and then reluctantly reached out for a very rushed and brief handshake. This awkwardness was repeated with all the other interviewers. When I shook the Jane’s hand and I noticed that the skin on her hand was very rough. With introductions and awkward handshake is completed, we begin the actual interview.

As the job interview continued, the Jane suddenly began beyond repeatedly. That’s right, during interview the Jane started yawning from across the interview table. At first I was caught off guard, my first reaction was surprise as I was not expecting this kind of response from any job applicant. And I sensed that I was not alone in my shock, I had a feeling that my fellow job interview panelists were also quite caught off guard. After the third yawn, I began to realize that perhaps his yawning like behavior had something to do with a medical condition.

At the end of the interview, all the hiring managers stood up to shake the Jane’s hand and thank her for her application. She then stood up, awkwardly turned around and walked out of the room. Hiring managers look at each other and wondered what just happened?

Acknowledge Your Disability

During the post-interview debrief, the hiring managers discuss the strengths and weaknesses of this candidate.  The seemingly odd behavior was also discussed.  All the hiring managers speculated that the Jane’s reluctance to shake hands might’ve been due to a skin condition.  And that the behaviour that looks like yawning might’ve also been due to a medical condition.  Regardless, all of the hiring managers thought that the interview would’ve gone so much better if Jane would have acknowledged these behaviors and provided some explanation.  For example, if the she wanted to address the handshaking issue, she could’ve smiled and said something like, “I would love to shake your hand, however, I have a skin condition that makes handshaking uncomfortable.  So please do not be offended, I’m still very pleased to meet you.”  Anyway, I think you get the idea.  The same approach could have been taken with the yawning.

In this situation, there are so many benefits of acknowledging the situation.  For example by acknowledging the yawn, Jane could have eliminated the need for us to speculate on why she was yawning, “was she bored?”.  Also had she acknowledged the yawns and reluctance to shake hands, it would have eliminated the awkwardness and gone a long way to put both the interviewers AND herself at ease.

Make Your Disability Your Strength

There was so much opportunity for Jane to have made her disability a strength.  By speaking to her special condition, she could have shown her great interpersonal and communication skills.  Further, she could have easily spun her answer to make her disability her strength.  By explaining all the obstacles she had to overcome in her life, she would have easily demonstrated her stamina, focus, work ethics and determination.

 

Photo by Joe Shlabotnik