A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Tips for Successful Interviews: Audio Interview

In this interview we discuss what you need to do to perform at your best in a job interview with Michelle Pandith and Carolyn MacDiarmid, employment specialists with CCRW’s Workplace Essential Skills Partnership.

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Interviewer:  Welcome to this Project Aspiro audio feature. Today we’ll be talking about job interview tips with Michelle Pandith and Carolyn MacDiarmid, Employment Specialists with CCRW’s Workplace Essential Skills Partnership. 

So just to get started, how should someone prepare for a job interview?

Carolyn: There are a number of ways in which a person can prepare for a job interview. They can prepare by knowing approximately 4 things about the company, for example the company’s mission statement or mandate, the company’s primary product and/or services, any charities that the company supports, any recent positive news about the company, etc.  Another point would be to rehearse your answers to common job interview questions. Another way to prepare would be to read the job ad carefully so that you won’t be surprised at the interview when the interviewer started to talk about tasks that you weren’t aware you would be perfuming.

The job ad is a good indicator of questions that you might be asked, for example if it is a customer service position, you most likely will be asked to give specific examples of when you demonstrated excellent customer service skills, or you might be asked about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer. Or you’ll be asked any other question related to customer service. So do look carefully at the skills requirements list in the job ad. Another example, if they want someone with strong leadership skills be ready to give a specific example of when you demonstrated this skill. 

Interviewer: And what are some good questions to ask during an interview?

Michelle: Well it’s important to think of the type of questions, it’s a great idea to ask open-ended questions because remember you’re creating a conversation with the employer so rather than just asking choppy yes/no questions, get them to talk to you. It’s always a good idea to start off by asking about the team. There’s almost always a team that you’ll be joining, and asking the employer about the team gets the employer to visualize you working on that team and that what you want them to do.

So that’s pretty important, and of course to ask questions of clarification, so if there’s anything on the job posting that you might need more details on, ask those questions because this is your opportunity to make a decision whether or not you would accept this job. Yes, the employer makes a decision about you, but you’re also screening the employer and it’s important to keep that in mind when you’re asking your questions.

Interviewer: Okay great, and what about someone with vision loss, is there any kind of specific questions that someone might want to ask in an interview related to that?

Michelle: Well it does depend, I guess, on the type of job and the accommodation needs of that person. If someone is thinking about disclosing, we always recommend to talk about accommodations, so perhaps “I use a certain type of software, is this compatible with your in-house system?” In some cases there’s no need to disclose but sometimes there is, especially if the interview has a testing component to it, a computer test. In that case a person with vision loss will need to ensure that the employer will be prepared so that they can take the test fairly.

I actually did also want to mention some questions to not ask at an interview because that’s equally important. Questions that are obvious, that are already stated in the job posting, or are easy to find out, they’re on the company website. It’s important to not just ask questions for the sake of asking questions. Don’t ask irrelevant questions and try no to ask questions that are from a “me” perspective, okay “What do I get out of this?”, okay so starting off with asking about salary or benefits, time off, that’s definitely a no-no. 

Interviewer: Okay, save that for later in the process…

Michelle: Yeah, and usually if questions about salary, that will usually be discusses by the employer if they are really interested in hiring you. 

Interviewer: Okay, makes sense. Okay so now thinking about after the interview, what are some thoughts around following up after an interview?

Carolyn: Well we recommend that your last questions at the interview itself should be “What are the next steps in the hiring process?” and also ask each person who interviews you for his or her business card, this way you will know when you can expect to hear back from the employer. You can also use the information on the business cards to email each interviewer a short thank you and to restate your interest in the position. 

Interviewer: Okay great, thanks Carolyn. So Michelle you were talking earlier about disclosure. You know, talking about someone’s disability in an interview. What are your thoughts about disclosing a disability in an interview?

Michelle: Well yeah, it really does depend on the person; it really is a personal choice. And like I said if you are going to disclose it’s important to focus on the accommodations and not the disability. Sometimes people have this need to over-disclose or almost apologise for their disability and that’s not what it’s about. It’s about perhaps requiring a tool to do the job and to think of it from that perspective. So we typically will give our clients some one-on-one coaching if they’re unsure about if they should disclose or not.

Interviewer: So to come at it from kind of a position of strength, not as if you’re apologizing for something that you know, you feel might be perceived as a weakness?

Michelle: Absolutely because it’s not a weakness at all.

Interviewer: Okay well that’s great. We’ve got some really good insights on job interview tips and thanks to both of you for coming and talking with us today. 

Carolyn: Thanks for having us.