Interviewing under the ADA: Know What Not to Ask

Article excerpt

In light of the recent ADA legislation, even the most experienced interviewers may be apprehensive about interviewing disabled applicants. Most employment discrimination against people with disabilities is unintentional, often occurring because the interviewers and other HR professionals lack knowledge about the differing capabilities of these individuals.

Not surprisingly, interviewers may be wondering what questions may and may not be asked when talking to a disabled applicant. While they should not be afraid to talk about an applicant's known disability, interviewers should discuss the disability in terms of specific job functions, with a focus on the ability of the applicant to perform the job, rather than on the applicant's particular disability.

In a video teleconference sponsored by the American Hospital Association, panelists cautioned interviewers against asking the following questions:

* "Do you have a disability?"

* "Have you been treated for the following medical conditions?"

* "Have you ever been hospitalized?"

* "How many times were you absent from your job because of illness?"

* "Have you ever filed for or received worker's compensation benefits?"

Instead, interviewers may ask questions such as the following:

* "Are you able, with or without accommodation, to perform the essential tasks required for this job?"

* "How would you perform these essential job tasks?"

* "What accommodations would you need to perform these essential tasks? …