Addressing employer concerns in an interview

Sometimes at interviews, employers may express concerns about hiring people with disability. While these concerns may be genuine, they are often caused by a lack of knowledge about employing people with disability.

Here are some of the more common concerns raised by employers and how you can respond to them.

Previous bad experiences

Some employers might say that they have already tried hiring someone with disability, but it was unsuccessful. You may like to explain to the employer that you have considered how you will complete all the tasks required in the job. You can also talk about your skills and experience. If you are registered with an Australian Government employment service provider, you can mention that your provider is able to provide assistance to the employer. You can also talk about the financial help available to the employer if you require any changes to the workplace or your work schedule. You can direct the employer to specific information about hiring and managing staff with disability in our Employers section.

Gaps in your employment history

It is not uncommon for people with disability to have periods of time when they were not employed. If an employer is concerned about gaps in your work history, you can respond to questions about these periods in a number of ways.

If you were unable to work because of your disability, be honest about this, but be clear that you are capable of working now. Mention any study, volunteer work or other activities you did during these periods. Emphasise your eagerness to work now. Describe your future career goals and how the job fits into this path.

Higher insurance and safety costs

Some employers wrongly believe that workers compensation costs will increase due to hiring people with disability. Some also think that employees with disability are more likely to have accidents at work. This is not the case.

These costs are based on accidents at work, not the characteristics of particular groups of employees. There is no proof that employees with disability are more susceptible than others to workplace injury. In fact, research suggests that people with disability can have fewer accidents at work (Graffam, J, Shinkfield, A, Smith, K, and Polzin, U 2002, ‘Employer benefits and costs of employing a person with a disability’, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, vol. 17, pp. 251-263).

Safe Work Australia has also produced a report that answers the question: Are people with disability at risk at work?

Possible side effects of medication

If you need to take any medications for your disability, be aware of any side effects. Make sure you understand how those side effects could affect your ability to do the job. You only need to tell an employer about medications and their side effects if they impact on your work performance or safety. If your medications will not affect your work, you can point this out to the employer. If the medications could affect your ability to work safely, have a conversation with the employer about ways the issue could be resolved.

Slower work rates

Some employers might say that they can’t afford to hire people with disability because those people work too slowly. The truth is that most people with disability work at the same levels of productivity as other employees.

If you are concerned about your productivity as a result of your disability, you may wish to consider the Supported Wage System. Under this system, eligible people with disability can get an assessment to determine fair pay for fair work. 

Negative responses from customers or co-workers

Some employers might be concerned that hiring a person with disability will draw negative reactions from customers. Some employers might think a person with disability will not 'fit in' with co-workers. Neither statement is true. In most cases, customers and co-workers come to realise workers with disability are competent and efficient in their jobs.

Employers who hire people with disability often enjoy boosts to staff morale and community recognition as good corporate citizens.

You may like to talk to employers about some of the benefits to their business when they employ people with disability.

Financial help with changing the workplace

If you and your employer agree to make changes to the workplace to help you do the job, you can tell your employer about the Employment Assistance Fund. This fund pays for the costs of modifying the workplace or purchasing special equipment.

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