Beating Bias in the Interview

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yesterday, a news story emerged which highlights a young American war veteran who is struggling in his job search. The veteran, Justin Claus, had his military service career brought to an end by a parachute accident which left him with chronic back and knee pain. Justin has been bringing a document to his interviews which serves as proof of military service - he hoped his status as a veteran would give him an edge - but the document also noted his accident and the reason his military career was over: a permanent disability.

Justin feels as though his disability may be leading to employers passing on him for other candidates. He, like many other veterans, also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), although he has not been disclosing this during the interview process. He goes on to state how he won't be bringing his military service record to future interviews in the hopes of not being overlooked because of his disability.

This story highlights a difficult decision faced by anyone with a disability: to disclose or not to disclose. In this situation, Justin appears to feel okay with not disclosing his PTSD. Perhaps he feels he can self accommodate on the job without help from his employer. However, the consequences related to his unintended disclosure of his chronic back and knee pain from his military record may have caused his interview to focus on his disability, rather than ability.

This is a scenario we see often at Champions. For our clients who choose to disclose their disability, having a strategy to disclose their disability prior to the interview, and also knowing what accommodations are required to succeed in the position, may help change the dialogue and defeat misconceptions which may exist. Disclosing a disability to an employer may not be easy to do, but having a clear and comprehensive plan will help an employer see the ability – and not the disability.


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