Get it right from the start – let people with disability know you are interested in hiring them
Applicants with disability may be looking for signs of inclusion and respect before applying for a new role. Provide signs of a disability inclusive workplace by:
- Including a statement encouraging applications from people with disability in all job advertisements
- Including visible information about inclusion policies on the agency website and matching the information with representative and diverse images of your workforce
- Becoming a disability confident recruiter through the Australian Network on Disability, displaying the logo and making a statement about the agency’s commitment to providing fair and equitable treatment for candidates with disability
- Captioning all recruitment videos
- In addition to I work for NSW advertising, reaching out to potential candidates with disability though specialist disability recruitment portals and media.
Job design - maximise hiring opportunities
Inclusive hiring begins at the job design phase. Review role descriptions to ensure they accurately reflect job requirements and remove unintended barriers. Consider what skills and attributes are truly essential to the role. Some requirements such as a current driver’s licence, good communication skills, or the ability to pass a health assessment may not be essential to carrying out the role and will exclude some people with disability from applying.
Similarly, it is possible to use inclusive job design to create jobs for people with disability who may have limited chances for employment. This method is based on matching the needs of the employer for types of work to be performed with people with disability seeking employment. This approach typically involves the re-designing of work processes and the splitting of tasks to suit people with disability.
The PSC’s role description development guidelines will assist you with inclusive job design.
Targeting jobs for people with disability
As outlined under Anti-Discrimination Laws, if you fail to recruit fairly, this may amount to unlawful discrimination.
If you are considering targeting jobs for people with disability, you should be aware that you can target a job for all people with disabilities. However, you will need to obtain advice if you want to target a job, service or program towards people with a specific type of disability – for example if you want to employ someone with cerebral palsy, or you want to run a job-seeking skills class for people with an intellectual disability.
Advertising - creating a disability friendly job ad
When you are creating an advertisement and job description, some things to consider:
- Use clear and simple language – avoid using acronyms, jargon or technical terms
- Provide a clear and concise description of what is needed for the role and the types of duties involved – this assists the candidate to assess whether the role is right for them
- Include a statement to promote the value of a diverse workforce and the inclusive hiring practices of the NSW government sector
- Provide information about the accessibility of your work environment, access to public transport and the approach to your office. This will assist candidates to make an informed decision on whether your workplace will be accessible to them and support their employment with your agency
- List more than one method of reaching the contact person, such as a direct phone number and email, for enquiries about the role in order to accommodate for different communication needs amongst your candidate pool
- Provide another contact person, who is not a member of the assessment panel, to discuss adjustments if needed. An independent contact can provide candidates with confidence that their adjustment needs won’t disadvantage them when being considered for a role.
Build an inclusive assessment process
All candidates should be provided with the opportunity to request an adjustment to the assessment process or the individual assessments. It is important to do this sensitively as some candidates may find the recruitment process intimidating and may hesitate to ask for an adjustment.
Where candidates request an adjustment, ask them what would be most helpful for them, and what has worked well for them in the past.
Hiring managers are able to adjust the assessment process to suit the needs of people with disability and make the recruitment process accessible. Always focus on the inherent requirements of the job and the possible impacts of your assessment methods on candidates.
Rule 26 of Government Sector Employment (General) Rules 2014 allows agencies to facilitate the employment of people with disability by modifying the recruitment process.
When applying Rule 26, you can:
- modify advertisement requirements - Agencies can advertise through a specialised job board counts as external advertising for offering employment.
- modify assessments - Instead of traditional interviews, candidates are assessed on their ability to perform the inherent role requirements through a staged interview process
Modifying assessment processes
Examples of modifying an assessment process include:
- Reducing the number of capability-based assessments, such as not requiring an interview and focussing instead on inclusive work sample tests or a presentation
- Removing the requirement for a written component of the application, allowing candidates to submit a resume instead
- Using one or two assessors instead of three or more
- Conducting group interviews and work skills tests.
If using an assessment centre, ensure that the location is accessible and think about the impact of the environment on the confidence of candidates with disability.
Some physical issues can adversely affect candidates with disability. Be mindful of:
- Reception counters that do not have a low height section to allow people in mobility devices to communicate and sign-in in a comfortable and dignified manner
- Extremely bright or low lighting
- Lack of quiet spaces
- Limited seating in waiting areas
- Lack of an accessible toilet.
Tailoring the assessments
Feedback received from employees with disability has raised concerns about the accessibility of assessments and the additional barriers posed by cognitive testing and other forms of online assessments. Examples include:
- Assessments completed within a time limit are less accessible for people who have anxiety disorders, read slowly, have manual dexterity challenges or require frequent rest breaks
- Online assessments may be incompatible with screen reader software
- People with dyslexia may have difficulty accessing written materials and online assessments
- A person with neuro-diversity, anxiety disorders or a speech or hearing impairment may experience difficulty participating in group discussions.
Make sure you let all candidates know adjustments are available when offering them an assessment. Often candidates who need adjustments don’t ask for them for fear that the request will adversely affect their prospects in relation to the recruitment decision.
If there is doubt about the accessibility of an assessment for the candidate, provide an opportunity to preview a version of the material. For online assessments, ask the assessment vendor for a link to a practice test where they can complete some sample items to determine whether the assessment is accessible to them, for example, whether it works with their screen reader software.
Discuss the adjustment needs of candidates with disability with your HR Business Partner or assessment vendor. Vendors who are accredited under the Talent Acquisition Scheme to design and supply assessments can provide quality advice about adjustments to their products.
Where your agency has designed an in-house assessment such as a work sample test or behavioural interview script, you should consult with the individual about the adjustments that will work best for them. Make the changes that will allow them the best possible access to the assessment.
Adjustments can also be made to psychometric assessment tools, such as ability, personality and emotional intelligence questionnaires. Details of the accessibility features of currently-accredited tools are listed on the buy.nsw website under List of Suppliers. Examples include:
- Compatibility of online assessments with screen reader software for candidates with vision impairment
- Ability to increase test time to allow candidates extra time to complete questions or tasks
- Allowing a scribe or a reader to provide support during the test. This may also need time adjustments
- Availability of the test in alternative formats, such as Braille or pen and paper.
Comparability of assessment results
A common misconception is that it may not be fair to other candidates if a candidate with disability has an adjustment made to an assessment. However, an adjustment provides a person with disability a fair chance to interview as it removes the barriers that would otherwise prevent them from participating. For example, a person with Autism who is highly capable at performing the requirements for the role might not be able to communicate at all in a normal interview process.
Having fair and equitable procedures does not mean having directly comparable results. Where an adjustment to the content or method of delivery of psychometric assessments has been made, sometimes the results may no longer have validity for predicting job performance. Despite this, you may choose to make the changes and offer the candidate the opportunity to have a similar recruitment experience to other candidates, without using the assessment results for decision-making. Contact the assessment vendor for advice on how/whether to use the assessment results for making selection decisions.
As the assessment is designed to test a capability and is typically not the only method of assessing an individual’s suitability for the role, direct comparability of one assessment to another is not necessarily required.
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a person on the ground of disability in the arrangements the employer makes for the purposes of determining who should be offered employment. For example, an employer could not provide an inaccessible online assessment tool and no alternative.
When a candidate shares that they have a disability, the hiring manager should proactively ask if they need any adjustments to help them demonstrate their suitability for the role.
This should be done regardless of whether they have indicated specific requirements in the application paperwork, as some people with disability will be reluctant to ask or may not know what they can ask for.
Options for adjustments
Adjustments that can be offered at the interview stage include, but are not limited to:
- Making changes to the location of the interview or adapting the environment - for example, to enable wheelchair access or to dim the lights for someone with sensitivity to bright lights
- Scheduling the interview at a different time to accommodate a candidate if they have a condition that causes tiredness at certain times of the day, they need to take medication or eat at specific times, or they have difficulty using public transport during peak periods
- Allowing interviews to be conducted via Skype, Zoom or other video-conferencing technology
- Allowing applicants who use screen-readers to bring their own laptop to complete written assessments
- Providing extra time to complete assessment tasks or to answer interview questions
- Providing an AUSLAN interpreter for a deaf candidate
- Providing a scribe for a candidate with who has difficulty typing or handwriting quickly if written tests are conducted as part of the interview
- Providing alternative formats of assessment test papers, for example in audio, Braille or large print versions
- Allowing the candidate to present their answers using an alternative method, for example verbally rather than in writing
A reasonable adjustment request does not need to be supported by evidence, such as a letter from a medical practitioner.
Remember that the person with disability you are interviewing is there to showcase their skills and capabilities relevant to the role. There is no need to adjust the interview questions for a candidate with disability. Avoid asking informal questions about their disability and how it may have been acquired.
PSC has a useful Recruitment and Selection guide on interviews to help you.
Questions about reasonable adjustments that they will need in the workplace should only be asked after the selection process has been finalised. However, candidates may choose to volunteer this information at any stage in the selection process.
Good interview etiquette
Candidates with disability should be treated with the same courtesy and respect as everyone else during their interview. However, when meeting a person with disability for the first time, it’s natural to feel nervous or reserved. The tips below can help avoid awkward mistakes.
- It is appropriate to shake hands with a person who has a disability, even if they have limited use of their hands or wear an artificial limb. If the person cannot shake hands, acknowledge them with a smile and a spoken greeting.
- If you are expecting a candidate who uses a wheelchair or other mobility device, make sure the chair has been removed and there is a clear pathway into that space.
- Remember that the wheelchair or mobility device is part of the candidate’s personal space. Do not touch or move it without permission.
- If you are aware that a candidate is blind or has low vision or has another disability that could affect wayfinding, provide them with enough information for them to easily find their way to the interview, alternatively offer to meet them in the foyer.
- If you are guiding a person who is blind or has low vision into the interview room, do not grab them. Instead, offer your left arm for them to hold just above the elbow. Tell the person if you need to move through a narrow space such as a doorway. Move your guiding arm towards the centre of your back to indicate that they need to walk behind you. The person should step in behind you while still holding your arm. When you have passed through the narrow space bring your arm back to its usual position by your side. Show them the back of chair where they will be seated.
- Ask all panel members to introduce themselves when interviewing a person who is blind or has low vision, so that the candidate can know which person is asking the questions.
- During the interview, always make eye contact with the candidate. While this is an important courtesy for all candidates, it is particularly valued by AUSLAN users as it shows interest and conveys the feeling of the conversation, and by people who are blind as they know to look in the direction a person's voice is coming from.
- Do not shout at a deaf or hard of hearing person. Speaking louder doesn’t help as it exaggerates the lip movements making lip-reading more difficult.
- If interviewing a candidate who uses AUSLAN, be aware that the candidate may speak for himself or herself, or the interpreter may voice what the candidate signs. Address your questions directly to the candidate, not the interpreter.
- Be patient interviewing a person who has difficulty speaking. Allow extra time for the interview rather than hurrying the candidate.
- Never pretend to understand what a person is saying if you don’t. Ask the person to repeat or rephrase or offer them a pen and paper.
Recruiting people with disability
Making the workplace accessible
Getting support for your disability
How to lead change in the workplace
Disability employment events
The Age of Inclusion
Learn more about disability
Managing in the age of inclusion