How should staff conducting employment interviews accommodate deaf applicants?
Q. The recruiting manager of our company is interviewing a deaf applicant for an open position. What should she keep in mind during the interview?
A. Your interviewer may want to review general interview rules that apply to individuals with disabilities. In particular, he or she should not ask questions about applicants’ medical conditions.
This applies even if the individual has an obvious hearing impairment or if the individual discloses his or her hearing impairment. For example, an employer should not ask a deaf applicant whether he or she uses a hearing aid or has had medical procedures related to his or her hearing.
One exception to this line of questioning is that if an individual has an obvious hearing impairment or chooses to disclose that he or she has a hearing impairment and the interviewer reasonably believes that the applicant would require an accommodation. In those cases, the employer may ask what accommodation the applicant would need.
Remember to keep any information that is disclosed confidential (other than to necessary parties).
Also note that an employer can ask questions that relate to the individual’s ability to perform the job’s essential functions with or without a reasonable accommodation, such as questions about communication skills, ability to meet safety standards and respond to instruction.