A year and a half ago, I graduated from university. I remember feeling excited for the future, and a little bit nervous. I was about to start the job hunt for my first full time position.
With job hunting comes interviews. When I first started getting interviews, I was wondering how and when to tell my potential employer about my hearing loss. I also worried that disclosing my hearing loss would impact my getting the job.
After a couple of interviews, I figured out what the best course of action was for me!
Before The Interview
I never mentioned my hearing loss in my cover letter or resume. Those are for highlighting your skills and work experience, which is what an employer is going to be looking for when they are reading them.
What about phone interviews?
I personally struggle with talking over the phone. I don’t think my best self shines through when I’m spending too much time trying to focus on what the person on the other line is saying.
If a potential employer said that they wanted to schedule a phone interview as part of a screening process, I would ask for an in-person interview instead. Employers are obligated to be accommodating and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) prevents discrimination against qualified employees.
This when I would disclose my hearing loss.
I would say, “is it possible to set up a face-to-face meeting instead? I am hard of hearing and sometimes have difficulty hearing over the phone. In this case, I would better represent myself in person.”
Whenever I said that, all potential employers gave me the face-to-face meeting. I personally think that this is an advantage because meeting face-to-face allows for a deeper impact on the interviewer than a voice over the phone.
The Main Interview
When the time came to meet with the hiring manager (typically different from the person that did the initial screening interview), I answered the questions to the best of my ability and kept note on any job requirements I might have difficulty doing because of my hearing.
In this case, I would disclose my hearing loss at the end of the interview – for three reasons:
- Questions come at the end. When they ask me if I have any questions, I say, “I have a hearing impairment. Will that affect any portion of this job?”
- At this point, the employer will have a good sense of my personality and hearing skills – with no previous judgement.
- It’s best to gauge their reaction. Their reaction can be a good judge of corporate culture and whether or not they will be willing to accommodate you (AODA aside).
You do not have to mention your hearing impairment during an interview, but I personally want to disclose it, so that if I were to get the job, I can start with the accommodations (if necessary) and honesty from the first day.
Consequences of Not Telling
If I went into a job and did not disclose my hearing loss, I would feel that I am:
- Misleading my manager and coworkers by creating confusion when I can’t hear them.
- Making myself paranoid by hiding the truth.
- Setting myself up to get fired – especially if I make a costly mistake that could have been prevented if my work knew of my hearing loss.
Here are some tips that I collected along the way:
- When meeting with a hiring manager, request a quiet room to do your interview.
- If asked the question “What are your weaknesses?”, know that hearing loss is not one of them!
- Sell who you are – your skills, experience and personality – that will get you the job.
Do you have any additional tips or questions about navigating job interviews with hearing loss?
I’d love to hear them! Comment below or contact me here.
Thanks for reading!