Are You Able to Perform This Job’s Duties with or without Reasonable Accommodations?

Tricky Interview Questions

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must accommodate those who are disabled but qualified for a position. So, when interviewers ask “Are you able to perform this job’s duties with or without reasonable accommodations?” they are assessing a potential employee’s needs.

Some practical accommodations include:

  • Job restructuring
  • Modifying work schedules
  • Altering testing or employment training
  • Providing readers or interpreters

Common Work Accommodations

The concept of job restructuring includes exchanging marginal tasks among employees. For instance, managers can assign a task, such as answering phones, to a person with vision impairment. A worker without impairments then gets the jobs requiring strong vision, like typing.

Another type of medical accommodation is a flexible work schedule. As an example, someone with diabetes might have to eat more frequently and be excused to do insulin injections. Or, a worker with cancer may need to leave at a regularly scheduled time for treatment.

In order to train a new hire who has a disability, an employer might have to offer alternate materials, such as braille. The training could also be modified in a different way, like having a reader available.

How to Answer “Are You Able to Perform This Job’s Duties with or without Reasonable Accommodations?”

Individuals should always reply honestly in the interview process. If a specific accommodation is necessary, don’t hesitate to mention it. However, it is good for candidates to look over the job description beforehand to make sure it is within their capabilities.

Example Responses

The following are some possible ways to respond to this question in a job interview. The samples touch on a few accommodations workers often need. Do not memorize or repeat these. Make any response unique to your situation.

Sample Answer 1 – Walmart Cashier Job for an Applicant with No Restrictions

“I am able to handle the workload. I do not require any special considerations beyond standard breaks.”

Sample Answer 2 – Applebee’s Host Job for a Worker that is Hearing Impaired

“I may have trouble hearing the phone at times. A loud ringer or visual cue to alert me will help. This is all I require to be able to satisfy the duties of the job.”

Sample Answer 3 – AT&T Call Center Job for a Candidate that is Visually Impaired

“While I believe I can perform the job effectively, I will need braille reading materials. This applies to completing any paperwork or tests.”

Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA ensures all job seekers get a fair shot in the hiring process. In summary, the law states that employers must:

  • Modify a job application so qualified, disabled applicants are eligible for consideration.
  • Enable the employee to perform job duties with physical modifications to the workspace that do not cause undue hardships on the business.
  • Provide equal employment benefits to those with disabilities.

Review the law to understand your rights as an applicant. Then, check the requirements of any position to be sure it is within your ability. Finally, always be truthful, yet reasonable, when discussing accommodations in job interviews.

One user comment:

  1. Jermaine

    Most of the comments above seem to be people replying to this information as though the person who wrote it is offering them a job. Silas, however, brought up a good point about being hearing impaired. It gives a good example of what an employer would need to know before taking the interview any further.

    A good example would also be someone who has back/neck problems that are made worse by sitting and/or standing for extended periods of time. In the case of a cashier, the employer should reasonably be able to provide a seat of some kind for a person who can’t remain standing for a long time. For someone who cannot stand OR sit for long periods of time, a lot of employers may find that something that would be unreasonable to accommodate, as they would likely have to give the person frequent breaks (and most hourly wage places that I’ve experienced count breaks as still being on the clock). Most employers would not think it reasonable to pay someone for a full day of work when they had to take a great deal of on the clock breaks to recuperate throughout the work day, so prepare for that.

    Many employers think that it is unreasonable to have an employee with a disability that requires them to take more than a couple of days off work each month. Most employers I’ve had experience with even have rules that they won’t tolerate more than one day of missed work a month unless in extreme cases, like an emergency that required immediate medical attention. Any such emergency would have to be proven with a letter from a doctor, and in cases like with AT&T, you have to take forms to your doctor to fill out stating what the nature of the emergency was so that AT&T can determine whether or not they will excuse your absence. Be prepared to let an employer know if you require days off for things like, for example, extreme and/or frequent migraines that would prevent you from doing any work while the migraine is affecting you. In my case, migraines may last for 2-4 days, but could be only for half of the day. Still, while it’s going on, I’m pretty useless even around the house.

    Think about what limitations you have for your specific disability and consider what you would definitely need as an accommodation from the employer in order to perform at your best. As this article states, do not try to hide what limitations you have, as bringing them up after being hired and expecting the employer to provide for those limitations will likely not work to your benefit. Let the employer know everything that they need to know beforehand, and if you are denied employment and are positive that the reason is because of your disability, consider seeking legal advice so that you know for sure if your denied accommodations were reasonable or not, as your rights may have been violated if they were reasonable.


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