Interview advice is a huge topic, but we have attempted to distil some of the most important issues into the below paragraphs.
People with severe sight loss will often disclose it soon after an interview offer because this critical stage will go far more smoothly if it is out in the open. Most of the best practice here concerns logistics, but if these go wrong, it can really affect a candidate’s performance or alter a panels judgement.
With the below, we will assume the interviewee is someone with low or no vision, but any or all of this material could apply to someone with even quite high partial vision since they will be in a strange place.
The interview acceptance
This is the first easy disclosure point, and many will use it to begin the conversation about adjustments. The ideal situation is that any interview invite will have told the candidate what will happen on the day. This should put them in a strong position to describe their needs with confidence. That will make everyone more relaxed and the arrangements would be made far more easily.
This is also when conversations can start about making tests accessible, or the assistance they might need with navigating your building.
Reaching the premises
It’s a good idea to find out how the interviewee will get to you. This will then give you a chance to discuss their journey, if they wish to, and to learn if the candidate needs more clarity on any directions you might have sent. They might arrive on foot, but generally someone with very low vision would at least try to reach the nearest station or bus stop. Still more might minimise the risk and get a taxi straight to your building.
Whatever the person chooses, knowing main landmarks is still useful even if they can’t spot them personally. A taxi driver, or a person the candidate asks for directions, could both find visible landmarks very handy. It’s also important to ensure the candidate has a number to call in case they get stuck, such as a driver being unable to find the building.
In addition, it’s wise to make sure you have a member of staff ready to meet the candidate at your entrance and assist them to the interview room or waiting area. The designated staff member must know this is expected of them well before the interview day so there’s no chance of them putting anything else in the diary. This removes practical concerns from both interviewee and panel on the day. If you are in a large building with security at a separate ground floor reception, it’s also often helpful to make sure they know the candidate is coming. They don’t need to do anything specific; things just tend to flow better if customer facing staff are informed.
Lots of blind and partially sighted people find it useful to take a person’s arm or shoulder. Any staff member likely to guide the interviewee should be told in advance if a person’s preferences have already been discussed. If unknown, the helper must be ready to ask what the candidate needs when they introduce themselves. The candidate must in turn be ready to answer such questions. People’s preferences differ and you can’t be expected to know their minds.
Once guiding, it is advisable to point out when you are approaching major obstacles like steps, but you will be able to walk quite naturally. The person will pick up a lot of useful signals through your arm or shoulder alone, simply from how you walk.
Some other good tips include:
- Telling people where drinks have been placed, near to left or right hands for instance.
- Placing people’s hands on chair backs before a person sits – this avoids the awkward manoeuvres that often occur around vacant seats, when one person has no idea where it is, and the other doesn’t know how to show them.
- Announcing when you are in the interview room – a person will generally know this, but it’s worth stating as there’s nothing worse than slowly sorting coats and bags only to find the panel were there all along, patiently waiting for you to settle
Perhaps most importantly, remember the person can’t see body language. As we’ve said, this isn’t certain, they might see a lot at close quarters, but if someone needed guiding to a seat, it’s a safe bet that they can’t easily see nods, gestures or any physical cues you might use to encourage, hurry or stop a candidate.
For more information of this sort, and for bespoke employer training, we would encourage you to visit the Blind in Business website
Blind in Business is an employment charity with the express purpose of seeing more people with sight loss taking up employment but they recognise that helping employers is a key factor. Blind in Business can give more complex advice on such access matters as making materials work for blind and partially sighted candidates, judging reasonable extra time for tests at interview and can also help you understand the obstacles some applicants with sight loss might face with certain types of presentation. Blind in Business have years of experience in making full assessment centres accessible.
Blind in Business has long track record in giving advice to those wanting to stay in their roles despite deteriorating vision.