Of the many things you want to be sure to share in an interview, there are also several pieces of information that your interviewer does NOT want to know. One of these pieces is the specifics of any previous injury you have endured.
If you have endured an injury that prevents you from being able to perform certain tasks, be sure to ask for as many details as possible regarding the job you are interviewing for. Employers are required to share what physical abilities are required for a job. That applies to any type of position- not just those involving physical labor. For example, a job description for a call center representative should include “must be able to sit for extended periods of time”, or percentages of time on the job spent using specific equipment or doing a specific task i.e. “20 percent use of computer monitor.”
Be honest with yourself and your interviewer. If you hear a required “must be able to” that you know you cannot do, politely indicate that you are no longer interested and go about your way. No need to share the nitty gritty of why.
If, however, there is no obvious task that you are confident you cannot do it is appropriate to share what functional limitations you have IF it would affect the essential duties of the position. When you bring it up, do not say for example, “I broke my neck last year.” Be a bit more subtle about your injury. Instead, discuss your injury in terms of the limitations it presents. For example, it would be better to say “I cannot stack things on high shelves,” while emphasizing how reasonable accommodations could make you a competent employee. A good way to do that would be to ask a question like, “Are there lifts available in the stock-rooms?”
If necessary, share your ideas about resources that might facilitate your role in that position. The American Disabilities Act (1990) requires that accommodations be reasonable, but that does not mean that your accommodations must be the most beneficial to you. Your employer has the final decision as to which accommodations will be provided, but his/her final decision is subject to appeal. Lastly, make affirmative statements that avoid presenting your injury or resulting disability as a “problem”.
The best bet is to see what is expected of you before you come into an interview. Then, tackle the issue and be savvy and professional about it.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Core Performance