Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

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RainbowJess
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Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by RainbowJess » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:04 pm

Does anyone have experience of asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews?. If so, what did you ask for and was your request/s accommodated?
I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia last August. I have had many job interviews over the years-internal and external, and have not been successful at a competency-based interview since 2008, and I attribute this to Dyspraxia. In a typical interview, obviously nerves exacerbate things, I have to ask for questions to be repeated multiple times, I cannot think of answers on the spot, I cannot structure and order examples and responses well, I speak too quickly, say too much , give too long responses etc.

I only got my current job because it was through an agency and was more informal- I am ok in interviews that are more like informal chats.

I want to request adjustments such as having the main questions in advance -but I feel unsure asking for this as it feels like cheating (even tho I know it is just leveling the playing field for me), and I am worried it will be perceived as cheating.

I am also thinking of blogging about my experience as I start to go for job interviews as organisations that wouldn't meet reasonable adjustment requests are not where I would want to work anyway I think!

Tom fod
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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by Tom fod » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:47 pm

I've had and been unsucceful at two competancy-based interviews for internal vacancies at a higher level so the pressure is probably less for myself. I did declare and provided a brief statemenr for their awareness but didn't /couldn't think to ask for anything specific.

Scope have some links to advice from this page https://www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/work
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Lucy
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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by Lucy » Thu Jul 12, 2018 8:14 pm

I've never asked for reasonable adjustments but always include a few things in my acceptance/confirmation of attendance:
1) Asking who will be on the panel - this means I can look them up online and see what their interests are (this may be a bit field specific, I'm not sure).
2) Asking if there is anything in particular they would like me to prepare - I'm told it makes me look organised, ocassionally I get lucky and they tell me things like they're looking for candidates to show some knowledge regarding a particular topic, so I can work out some potential questions to plan answers ahead of time
3) Asking if it is ok to bring a notepad and jot down questions as they are asked - no-one's ever said no, I jot down key words/phrases from the questions as a memory aid and it also helps me process the question/buys me a little more thinking time.

I don't know if that helps? Speaking from my experience as an interviewer, I'd have been concerned if someone asked for the questions in advance (are they going to distribute them? What if they don't know anything about the job but can do enough reading to do a convincing interview?). So I think if you feel that is the most relevant reasonable adjustment you would like to ask for, it's worth being careful how you word it and how you explain why it's necessary. Thinking about it, if someone asked that of me, I might have been inclined to offer something along the lines of, you are welcome to come [amount of time eg 20 minutes] early and we can give you the questions on a sheet of paper in a quiet room, but it would be under exam-like conditions to make it fair to other candidates who wouldn't have the opportunity to go away and research their answers. I'm not sure if that would be an option that would feel helpful to you?

It is also absolutely ok to ask for questions to be repeated, to say you're nervous, to ask to come back to a question, and to say you're going to take a moment to think before answering. Nervous candidates are much more appealing to me than over-confident ones, and asking for repetation and letting me know you're taking a moment to think show communication skills that I like.

Good luck with your job hunt. I hope that you get any reasonable adjustments you feel you might need.

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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by Tom fod » Fri Jul 13, 2018 8:03 am

Lucy
Thanks for this really interesting/useful
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RainbowJess
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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by RainbowJess » Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:51 am

Hi Lucy, I guess what you've said is what I imagine people think and what I actually want to challenge.
I have done all of the things you suggest, unfortunately it makes no difference. At my last organisation I was interviewed by someone, and then again for the same role a year later. She said "you were 1000 times better, but still really nervous". I also had feedback from a panel once (external), "it would almost have been better if you'd said nothing". This was because I kept thinking of things and adding things to my answer, as I thought of them, when the interview had moved on. So there are nerves and then there are debilitating nerves caused by a stressful, false situation which causes one to behave differently and give a completely different impression to behaviour actually doing the job- but that is all the panel have to go on. Everyone hates interviews and finds them challenging, but people can wing things and make things up on the spot- I cannot.

Re: asking for questions in advance- with dyspraxia this is not giving you an unfair advantage over other candidates, it is merely levelling the playing field. As an interviewer myself- I would be less concerned about the possibility of a candidate sharing the questions- it would not be in their interest to do so!. Re: perception of cheating/unfairness- some interviews are entirely based around a seen presentation, or a seen presentation is one of the stages-that is an example of having the question in advance,people still approach it completely differently. I have a list of reasonable adjustments that I agreed with my Dyspraxia assessor (I just haven't had to use them yet, hence the blog!), and one of them is a presentation rather than an interview- as I can prepare in advance this is where I tend to perform better. Of course there are questions around how you approached the task and content of the presentation that can't be prepared for.

How I try and explain Dypraxia and the effect in interviews, for me, is with Dyslexia as a frame of reference- as people get Dyslexia and there is soooo much more out there on it. I say that they are both language processing disorders, so with Dsylexia as we all know, people can be verbally very fluent, but writing takes a lot longer. Dsypraxia for me is the opposite- on the spot, under pressure, I am not verbally fluent because of struggling to process and order my thoughts (this is not the case in normal conversation, so I also prefer and peform better in informal interviews which is how I got my current role!).

Both my current and former organisation are large, well-known employers. They are both moving away from competence-based interviews, to strengths-based/scenario-based/hypothetical approaches, for various reasons. All the evidence and literature says that competence-based interviews are the worst predictor of performance in the role, which is one of the reasons organisations are moving away from them.

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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by Tom fod » Tue Jul 17, 2018 10:54 pm

Jess Thank You it's a very valid point about people not sharing advance interview questions in that they wouldn't as it risks helping the competition. Is there a perception of an equal treatment minefield? As an interviewer do you know in advance exactly what questions you will ask a candidate? I've failed two recent competency-based interviews for roles that would have if I'd been successful got me a promotion so I am sick of the subjectivity and dejected too!

Great analogy turning dyslexia on it's side to explain dyspraxia (it fits for me). I was thrown by a question about how I plan my work and what I do on a quiet day other than that the feedback wasn't all that bad Just wasn't to be.
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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by Lucy » Wed Jul 18, 2018 11:35 pm

Jess, I hear you. I'm conscious that I feel much more comfortable with your suggestion of a presentation instead of questions, and am thinking about adjustments like a work trial. I am still struggling with the idea of getting questions in advance because - even though I know how helpful I would find it, personally - I also know that, for me, I will give a much better answer and I would go and do reading and take advice from other people about how to answer (all the things you are advised to do for the kinds of questions you think might come up) and I'd feel that I'd be on an even playing field more with just a few minutes per question to think of an answer. We are all different and reasonable adjustments should be individual. And the job, I guess - I have to be able to think on my feet and respond to crisis situations and I need my employees to do the same, so that also colours how I look at things.

Re: sharing the questions - this is quite a common practice, from my experience. Through my networks, I hear lots of the questions people are/have been asked (even what interviewers are thinking of asking and what feedback on), and people asking advice re: questions or tasks set in advance. So, yes it might help your competition, but apparently that's not enough to stop it or to stop people wanting to pick the brains of their competition to find better answers! Maybe I am quite cynical about the whole thing, but I personally think networking has too much impact on employment prospects and disadvantages people from less well-off backgrounds, or with disabilities that make it harder for them to network, or who have additional responsibilities and can't give it the same amount of time outside their working hours. So that is just my personal experience in my particular field, and my personal opinion.

I don't want to stop you asking - and I hope you get what you feel you need.

SwervingCentaur
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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by SwervingCentaur » Tue Jul 24, 2018 11:00 pm

I just don't tell anyone at interviews about my Dyspraxia, the companies that I have been usually fail me at the interview, which is why I stopped telling them. Most of my jobs I have lost because I got no training, and couldn't manage the workload, and some of them would ignore or wouldn't listen to me when I told them about my Dyspraxia. Companies don't like taking people on with learning difficulties, because they don't want to waste more time training someone, when they get another person into the company, and do the training in less time.

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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by Tom fod » Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:52 am

I would argue that the challenge is to be able to comminicate that it is worth their while taking you on, while they might have to invest more time and effort in terms of the right training and support We can and dohave the potential to be great and loyal team members and potentially provide an employer with a unique insight into problem solving as we think differently.

Try to reverse the roles and see the interview from the perspective of your sussing out whether they are worthy.
Gaining the confidence to be able to declare and talk about dyspraxia as a positivd thing at interview is a difficult hurdle/hoop to jump through as sadly and annoyingly there are too many people with preconceived notions about what each 'disability' label means.
Tom
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jelly1000
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Re: Asking for reasonable adjustments at job interviews

Post by jelly1000 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 10:21 pm

I've never worked out what constitutes 'reasonable' adjustments. Like OP I struggle with interviews, I only got my current job after a year of failed interviews. It was a pretty formal interview that I passed but being a year after I first started interviewing I had rehearsed my standard answers enough times for them to finally be near ingrained in my head and the questions were all clear and straightened. Also the fact two of my interviewers were smiling at me the whole time really helped as I relaxed quite a bit. Perhaps ironically given that the Civil Service claim to be disability friendly, the very worst interview experience I had was for the Civil Service Fast Stream. I'd finally cracked the situational judgement test and etray and got through to the video interview and they may as well have asked me the questions in Greek. I couldn't understand what most of them meant and of the ones I could I couldn't think quickly enough to put a coherent answer together- they were questions I wasn't used to being asked so I didn't have a standard answer ready.

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