Interview tips - during the interview
During the interview — Respect the person’s dignity, individuality and independence.
Look and speak to the person with disability, not just the people accompanying them, including interpreters or carers. Place yourself facing a light source and keep your hands away from your mouth when speaking so the person can easily read your visual cues.
Some people with disability may be sensitive to things that are considered acceptable in social settings such as touch or making eye contact.
Take extra time where needed to gather appropriate information. People with disability, including someone using a communication aid or living with intellectual disability, may need your patience and sufficient time to act independently.
Clarify if needed.
It is ok to ask people with disability to repeat themselves if you do not understand what they have said or meant.
Empathise rather than sympathise.
People with disability wish to be accepted not pitied.
Offer help if needed.
Don’t be afraid to ask if people require assistance. But always gain the person’s approval before stepping in to help. Don’t be offended if the person says they don’t need support — your help may not be needed. If your assistance is needed, ask for instructions.
Treat and refer to adults with disability the same way you would any other adult. Use the same titles and prefixes you would with anyone else — for example, Mr, Mrs, Doctor.
If relevant, ask how a person describes their disability and ask them how they would like their disability to be described. Many people with disability consider it a central part of their identity, culture and community, and are willing to discuss their views, if you are open to listening.
Engage in conversation.
Do not be afraid to say or do something wrong. If a person’s disability is central to the story, it is ok to ask about it. Your questions can be challenging and to the point — if they are well-informed and based on facts.
Avoid putting people with disability on a pedestal or talking to them in patronising ways. Do not paint normal, everyday activities as exceptional — for example, ‘Oh, you make your own meals. That’s wonderful!’
Use common terms.
It’s ok to use common expressions like ‘see you soon’ or ‘I’d better be running along’. Unnecessarily avoiding common terms can often feel patronising.
Respect personal space.
Remember that mobility aids, including wheelchairs, are part of a person’s personal space. Do not lean on a wheelchair or hang anything on the back of a wheelchair without the owner’s permission. Never move mobility aids like canes or walkers out of reach.
Respect service animals.
If the person with you has a service animal such as a guide dog, do not touch it, speak to it, or engage with it unless the owner invites you to. Service animals are working animals and must focus on their owners’ needs at all times.