Interviews make me a little nervous. Especially when employment options are scarce. A lot can ride on the outcome of one particular opportunity. My sister, who works in job placement, says this is normal.
Before interviews, I feel antsy. Add on when I decide to disclose my disability, and the pressure builds. Will the employer see my disability or me?
Disclosure comes down to me explaining I have low vision and how reasonable my accommodations would be. With any employer, this should be straightforward. My low vision changes how I do things. I need a simple accommodation: magnification software on a computer. Depending on the job, there are other technologies that can be appropriate. Best of all, the state agency I receive services from covers the cost.
Before an interview, I research the company, go over general interview questions, and plan my transportation. I want to know more about the company culture; I’m ready with questions of my own. I see the time as a conversation where information is exchanged. Both parties have to walk away with a good impression for it to work out.
All of this is nice, but it doesn’t take away all the pressure from the situation. Luckily, there are moments when something interesting happens.
One time, I interviewed for a position that included working with food. We discussed things like food safety, recipes, and kitchen experience. This is when it got interesting.
“What types of knives are used in a kitchen?” the interviewer asks me, putting her pen to her notepad.
“Chef’s knife for chopping and dicing, and to julienne stuff,” I answer, looking up at the ceiling as I picture my knife block at home. “A paring knife for other prep work. A meat cleaver for butchering.” I mention a few more knives, working through my collection.
“Ok, that’s good for the knives,” the interviewer says, finishing her note. “And, do you use knives?”
She looks right at me.
I’m wondering to myself: does she mean it as I may be using them on the job, or does she mean it like she saw me walk in with my white cane, and she wonders if I can use knives effectively?
She sits too far away for me to read her expression.
For a microsecond, I think about waving my fingers and saying, “Yup, and I got all of my fingers still!” But, I know that’s not appropriate.
“Yes,” I answer, looking back at her, “Cutco.”
“Oh, ok,” she looks down at the notes, continuing on with the interview.
I give her the benefit of the doubt, assuming she was not leaning on stereotypes about people with vision impairments.
Interviews create opportunities to learn. At least there are always those interesting moments to look forward to.
Tell me your thoughts about interviews. Have you interviewed recently? Did something interesting happen?