A career planning and employment resource for people who are blind or partially sighted

Interviewing Tips

Interviewing is the final stage in securing a job – it’s your opportunity to convince an employer that you’re the best candidate for a position. The following tips can help you prepare for an interview and will increase your likelihood of success.

  • Always do your research – find out as much as you can about the company in advance. Call and ask for information (if the company is large enough to have an HR or public relations department) or go online to research the company; read their annual reports or search for newspaper articles about the company. You may also want to consider social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Plaxco, and Facebook where you can find out about companies and the people who work for them.
  • You can also visit your local library and ask the librarian to help you find information about local businesses, and you can ask people you know who work at the company about the company. You want to know about their business (how they are faring economically) and their reputation (e.g., whether they are engaged in any community service or other activities). 
  • When you arrive at the interview, you’ll want to establish a friendly rapport with the interviewer. This means greeting the interviewer properly and respectfully (using the appropriate salutation and pronouncing his or her name correctly). You must smile – sighted people place a great deal of emphasis on non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and body language – a nice smile will show that you’re friendly. Introduce yourself, saying your name clearly and spelling it for the interviewer if it is an unusual name or spelling.
  • You’ll also want to offer your hand to shake hands with the interviewer, if that is the custom in your country. As a person with vision loss, you’ll want to initiate contact (such as shaking hands) or demonstrate the appropriate greeting (for instance, bowing or tipping your head) so that the interviewer sees that you know the social rules. 
  • Use the interviewer’s name during your interview and if you have the chance, make small talk about the weather, the community, the company, or other appropriate topics. Not too much, but enough to demonstrate your social skills and help the interviewer feel more comfortable with you.
  • Be prepared to respond to open-ended questions such as, “Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?”, “What do I need to know about you?” or “What would you like to share about yourself?” With questions like this, an employer is trying to find out a few pertinent details to see whether you’ll “fit” with the company and your prospective coworkers. They also want to see if you can answer clearly and succinctly – many people fall into the trap of giving away more information than is necessary or relevant or they speak poorly of others. The key is to limit your response to about a minute and cover:
    • a couple of things about you that identify you as dependable and enthusiastic
    • a little bit about your educational and employment background
    • your goals and how they match the company’s goals
  • For your interview, prepare what you want to share with the employer. You should be able to provide at least three good reasons (both work habits and skills or talents) as to why you are the right candidate for the job. For example, “During my training, I had perfect attendance”, “I have extensive experience with the products (or clients) being served by this company” or “I received an award recently for the highest sales on our team”.
  • You’ll need at least one job-related question. For instance, “Will you be my immediate supervisor?”, “Can you describe the computer skills needed to be successful on this job?” or “What software is routinely used here?”.
  • One of the most important things you’ll need to consider is how to explain your disability positively and describe any disability-specific needs you have that will impact your work. Have a functional disability statement prepared in which you describe your disability in layman’s terms (no medical jargon) and discuss how you function without sight (or with impaired sight) in order to accomplish tasks like those you’ll be asked to do on the job.Be prepared to discuss any challenges, liabilities, or barriers that you think might be of concern to the employer; for example, transportation difficulties, lack of professional experience, poor work history, or chronic health problems. Remember to emphasize how you’ve resolved these issues - employers are looking for people who are resourceful and work towards overcoming their challenges.
  • Be prepared to respond to disability-related questions and encourage the interviewer to ask you questions. You want to ensure that any concerns the employer might have about your vision loss are addressed.
  • At the end of the interview, thank your interviewer by name for their time and find out the next step in the hiring process. Ask if you can check back and if so, when. Find out how the employer would like you to make contact – via telephone, email, in person, or other.
  • Follow up your interview with a thank you note or email. Also, make plans to check in periodically via telephone or in-person visits; but don’t be a pest!  If you don’t get the job, ask whether there are related positions for which you’d be qualified and whether you can submit another application.
  • Finally, document the following for your job search file:
    • where you interviewed
    • with whom you interviewed
    • when you interviewed
    • how and when to check back on your status in the hiring process
  • Write it all down! If you keep this information in an electronic file, add a weekly time to your calendar to review it. This is a good activity for the weekend, in preparation for looking for jobs during the work week.