Making the Right Impression: Interview Tips for Job Applicants with Vision Loss
What better month than October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, to talk about preparing for a top-notch interview.
Getting Ready to Present Yourself to a Potential Employer
Though this article is concerned with the interview itself, there are a number of important issues you should devote some preparation time to prior to the interview, such as: practicing your answers to possible interview questions, printing out clean copies of your résumé and cover letter, reviewing the published job posting so the job requirements are fresh in your mind, and determining how you'll disclose your disability. For more information on these and other important elements in the job seeking process, visit AFB CareerConnect. There, you can register to take the Job Seeker's Toolkit, a free, self-paced online course that takes you step-by-step through the career exploration and job seeking processes.
Technology at the Job Interview
Be prepared to demonstrate any technology that you will need to use for work or the interview. Create a checklist of the devices (high- and low-tech) you would use to complete work tasks. Next to each device listed, indicate whether you will bring the actual device or a photo, video, link, description, or other aid for explanation. Ideally, you would bring the technology with you so the interviewer can see how it's used, but if that's not feasible, bring as much information as you can to help explain. You could even create a short video or provide a list of links to videos or sites that demonstrate a given device.
Keep in mind that most employers don't know how people with visual impairments perform job tasks. It's best to be prepared to show your preferred methods and technologies quickly and efficiently during the interview.
Technology can be a great way to break the ice or get the attention of an interviewer, but you don't want your interviewer to be so distracted by technology that he or she misses the most important part of the interview: you. Using an iPhone or other mainstream smartphone can be a good way to demonstrate how such familiar devices, along with the many apps that can be loaded onto them, can provide easy access to information.
Outward Appearance at the Job Interview
Dress & Impress is a lighthearted video aimed at demonstrating the importance of appropriate dress and preparation in the interview process. The series of which this video is a part, Aaron's Adventures in Employment, is aimed at teenagers, but the messages apply to most job seekers.
Dressing appropriately can be the difference between getting a job or being eliminated as a candidate. Wear clothing that is clean (no stains), neat (no holes or tears), pressed (not wrinkled), and appropriately sized. Ask a person you trust to view your clothing to see if it fits well. You should go to stores and try on clothing to find out what looks good and is comfortable. Trying on clothes is a necessity, because clothing from different brands will fit differently even in the same size. I encourage clients and students to take a trip to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or another thrift store to find reasonably priced, appropriate interview clothing. Bring along someone with good vision who is knowledgeable about appropriate interview attire.
For women, there is a great national organization called Dress for Success that offers professional clothing for women who are preparing for employment but do not have the means to purchase interview clothes. Dress for Success also provides coaching and advice on the employment process.
Different employers will have different dress codes. If you can ask someone at the interview site what the dress code is before your interview, do so. If you can't, always err on the more professional side.
Below are some general guidelines and tips for dressing appropriately for an interview. All organizations and jobs are different, but it's usually safest to dress conservatively, especially for a job interview. Select, review, try on, launder, iron, and hang your clothing a week before your interview so you have time to make adjustments or get things dry-cleaned if you need to.
Professional Dress for a Job Interview
Below are the basics of appropriate professional dress for a job interview for men and women.
- Conservative suit (black, navy blue, or gray)
- Sports coat, dress shirt, slacks, dress socks, dress shoes, tie, and belt
- Colors should match
- Shirts should be a conservative solid color with a matching tie
- Belt should be the same color as your shoes. If wearing a black or navy blue suit, wear a black belt, black shoes, and black or navy blue socks
- A watch and/or one ring can be appropriate
- If you have a talking watch, the alarm should be silenced; talking watches can be a distraction and should be worn cautiously
- Dress shoes should be polished and in good condition
- Know your sizes and try things on both before purchasing and prior to an interview—clothing that fits properly is important to presenting a professional appearance
- Men should wear a white undershirt beneath their dress shirt to present a conservative appearance and prevent sweating through the shirt
- Undergarments should not be visible
- Clothing should not be transparent or form fitting
- Dress suit or pant suit with appropriate blouse
- Jacket with coordinating slacks and an appropriate blouse
- Jacket with a knee-length or longer skirt
- Jewelry should be minimal and subtle: small earrings (if any), one necklace
- Neckline should be conservative and not low. (Very little skin should be showing.)
- Shoes should be a dark color (black, brown, navy), closed-toe, with a low or flat heel
- Ladies stockings should be worn and should be a neutral shade or one that matches your skin tone
- Undergarments should not be visible
- Clothing should not be transparent, nor form fitting
- Handbags should be well-kept, moderate in size, neat in appearance, and devoid of ornamentation
Business Casual Dress for a Job Interview
Below are guidelines for dressing for interviews at companies whose stated dress code is business casual. If dressing for an interview regarding a labor-intensive job, ask what is recommended interview attire. You should always avoid inappropriate or very casual clothing at any job interview.
- Dress shirt (button down shirt that is striped or a solid color) and slacks (Docker/khaki type pants), socks, belt, and dress shoes
- Some businesses will require a tie
- Certain businesses may allow a polo shirt as part of business casual instead of a dress shirt
- If unsure, stay conservative
- Conservative blouse or shirt, knee-length or longer skirt, dress of an appropriate length and neckline
- Slacks can be substituted for a skirt/blouse or dress
- Ladies stockings are recommended
- Minimal jewelry
Some regions of the country have different professional dress conventions. It's important to respect the values of the organization and culture you are applying to work within. Some regions are more casual about their dress because of the climate. For example, ladies' stockings or men's ties would less likely be worn in Miami, Florida or Honolulu, Hawaii. Businesses in a region of the country known for having a traditional culture may be more conservative about dress codes. All of this is important to research and understand prior to an interview. Many businesses have written dress codes for employees (and interviewees) to follow.
Find More Employment Information at CareerConnect
For more great tips and information related to the employment process, please visit CareerConnect's Job Seeker's Toolkit. The Toolkit is a free self-paced online course that provides step-by-step guidance on navigating the employment process. Best of luck with your job search!
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