Job Interview Question & Answer: Can You Perform The Job’s Required Duties With or Without Accommodations?
Why Employers Want to Know
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must accommodate disabled workers who qualify for a position. When an interviewer asks, “Can you perform the job’s duties with or without reasonable accommodations?” they want to assess the potential employee’s needs. In doing so, the employer can make necessary accommodations for new hires right from the start.
How To Answer
If a hiring manager asks whether you can perform the job’s duties with or without accommodations, be truthful. You should be comfortable where you work, and the employer wants that as well. Tell them whether you can or cannot perform certain duties and be clear and reasonable about what accommodations you require.
How Not To Respond
You do not need to go into detail about your disability unless certain aspects are necessary and related to the accommodation the employer should make. If you had a boss in the past that was rude or not friendly, do not complain about the experience. If your disability makes it hard to perform those job duties, don’t lie and reconsider if this job would be too trying in the end.
Tips for Answering “Are You Able to Perform This Job’s Duties With or Without Reasonable Accommodations?”
Several accommodations exist that employers make to ensure workers with disabilities are comfortable and can perform their duties. If you have a doctor who helps you with your disability, it might help to speak with them about how to work a certain job with your impairment or injury. Some considerations you might talk about with the employer are:
- Modifying a work schedule to be more flexible with a medical treatment plan.
- Restructuring certain job tasks that are easier for those with disabilities compared to those without.
- Altering the materials for test-taking, presentations, or employee training.
- Providing greater accessibility in a work area or parking lot.
- Allowing service animals on the property or in the building.
Sample Responses to “Can You Perform The Job’s Required Duties With or Without Accommodations?”
The following are some possible ways to respond to this question in a job interview. The samples touch on a few accommodations workers might need. Do not memorize or repeat these. Make your response unique to the situation or position.
Sample Answer 1 – Cashier at a Department Store with Physical Disability
“I can handle the workload all right. I did have surgery on my knee a few years back that makes it difficult to kneel or stand for a long time, so I appreciate standard break times. If it does start to bother me, or if I am in pain, I will ask for a chair by my register or request that someone relieve me for a few moments so I may take a seat if it is not a problem.”
Sample Answer 2 – Hostess at a Restaurant with Hearing Impairment
“I may have trouble hearing the phone at times. If a customer at a table calls for me, I might miss it if I don’t have my hearing aid in. I always wear it, though. If the ringer is loud on the phone or if the patron signals that they need my help, then I’m usually right on cue. That’s about all I need to satisfy the duties of the job.”
Sample Answer 3 – Call Center Representative with a Visual Impairment
“While I believe I can perform the job effectively, I will need braille reading materials, including any paperwork or tests. If there are computer programs, I need to have software that reads the material aloud. I have used similar software at my previous job, and it was helpful.”
More Info on the Americans with Disabilities Act
The ADA ensures all job seekers have a fair shot in the hiring process. In summary, the law states 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.
When questioned about your ability to perform the duties of a job with or without reasonable accommodations, it helps to review this law and understand your rights as an applicant. Also, check the requirements of any position to be sure it falls within your abilities. Be truthful yet reasonable when discussing accommodations in job interviews.
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.