How to ace a job interview with a learning disability

An image showing a magnifying glass hovering over a bright coloured wooden pawn figure, in a row of uncoloured pawns

A learning or communication disability isn't immediately visible to everyone, but could be exacerbated with the nerves that come from a job interview

You might feel self-conscious of your disability at any given time, and perhaps you have or haven't chosen to let those around you know of any difficulties you experience.

A job interview can evoke nerves in anyone at the best of times. You might feel like your disability is a disadvantage, or you're not the best candidate for the role.

The recruitment process is a time where you especially deserve understanding and support!

Rest assured finding a job with a disability is absolutely possible. There are workplaces willing to accommodate your needs.

There are opportunities for adults with learning disabilities and the good news is Disability Employment Services can help you prepare to find a job and ace the interview.

What employment support exists for people with a learning disability?

Overcoming the belief that you probably won’t get a job because of your disability can be the biggest challenge of all.

Looking for a job with any kind of learning disability may feel like a stressful task, having the mindset that everyone is capable of work is the most important thing.

The challenges you live with on a daily basis make you an adaptable and resilient person - these are amazing characteristics to bring to any workplace.

One of the key ways Disability Employment Services helps is to find a job that’s right for your skills and your goals.

Your dedicated Employment Consultant will help you find that winning mindset by helping you determine what your strengths are, so you feel more confident going through the application process, including the interview.

APM's Employment Consultants are experienced with a range of conditions and ability levels, you'll feel prepared and capable for a positive interview experience.

Proof of this is Caleb, who has autism and combined with his enthusiasm, found a job with the help of an Employment Consultant at APM.

Which businesses hire workers with a disability?

In Australia, larger organisations and companies tend to have the most experience and success in hiring people with disabilities. Enthusiasm from medium and small businesses for diversifying their workforces is growing.

Businesses who do report improvements to reputation, reliability, productivity and financial performance. People with disabilities bring some exceptional qualities to their work and to their workplace.

Additionally, there is supported employment for adults with learning disabilities that you may be eligible for depending on the level of support in the workplace you need.

A photo of 4 candidates sitting in chairs, waiting to go in to a job interview

During the Interview:

1. Disclosing your disability

An interview is a great opportunity for people with learning disabilities to discover if the job you’re applying for is a good fit.

Disclosing your disability during an interview allows you and the employer to be authentic. It will either reveal a supportive and understanding employer, or one who you probably wouldn’t feel comfortable working for anyway.

Choosing to disclose means your employer has a deeper understanding of your needs in mind from the start.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, employers should not seek unnecessary and potentially discriminatory information from applicants when they develop selection criteria or prepare interview questions.

After you've disclosed your disability, employers may need to ask a candidate with a disability for information about the disability to determine whether they will be able to perform the inherent requirements of the job. This enables them to assess any health and safety risks or to identify any adjustments to the workplace that may be required.

You can also find out more about what questions you can lawfully be asked about your ability in a job interview.

2. Answering the interviewer's questions

Common interview questions for people with learning disabilities might be those that give the employer an idea about your ability to complete the tasks required.

Preparing for the interview is key.

Two essential things to know before your interview:

  • Find out beforehand where the interview is, and;
  • What the company or organisation do

Prepare for some tricky questions, the best answers you can give to an employer are the ones which include an example.

Always try to focus on your abilities. In an interview situation, you can use living with your disability as an example of your resilience or a situation where you’ve had to face difficulties that you’ve overcome.

Remember, you can always ask for a question to be repeated or rephrased if you need it, and do you best to to give positive and honest answers.

3. Define yourself by your strengths

Living with a learning disability might mean you struggle in a couple of areas, but this doesn't outweigh your strengths and talents in other areas. When your needs are met, you are capable of being an accomplished worker!

For example, people with difficulty reading or writing make excellent public speakers or have a heightened ability to visualise. These people might make good counsellors or entrepreneurs or film makers. This is just one example of how you can apply your talents to any industry.

Your life experience is your most valuable tool in not just showcasing you skills, but how you can adapt to also complete new tasks too!

A graphic showing a woman holding her CV in an office with a man in suit, who is interviewing her

If you're unsure where to start, Disability Employment Services can help you pinpoint what your strengths and skills are. They can help you to find the jobs that can best utilise those skills, assist with your application and prepare you for the interview.

If you're wanting to take advantage of the multiple benefits that come from having a job, get in contact with Disability Employment Services to see how we can support you: