The North Carolina workplace is growing more inclusive, and research has proven that this is to everyone’s benefit. Even better, research indicates that when there is a genuine attitude of tolerance and diversity, both production and morale rise. Suppose your company or organization has committed to employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to increase the diversity of your workforce. If that is the case, you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to provide them with the greatest job interview experience possible. 

Considering the applicant’s communication needs throughout the process, you may remove barriers that can prevent a good job interview experience when an applicant indicates they are deaf or hard of hearing. Here are some suggestions on making the process as simple as possible for a deaf or hard-of-hearing candidate who wants to use an American Sign Language interpreter for their interview at your North Carolina business.

Prepare for the Interview Ahead of Time

Because American Sign Language is a visual language that is very distinct from spoken English, with its grammar and syntax, there are instances when words and phrases cannot be accurately translated. These days, many job descriptions include industrial jargon or technical phrases, which your candidate could be familiar with but the interpreter might not understand at all. 

Because of this, it is extremely important to supply the interpreter with an accurate description of the position and a list of terms likely to be discussed during the interview. By supplying them with this information ahead of time, they can do a  much better job of communicating throughout the interview, which will help you do a more accurate and efficient job as the interviewer.

A Video Relay Service session helping a Deaf person communicate with a hearing person via a Video Interpreter (sign language interpreter) and a videophone DSC0051c
A Video Relay Service session helping a Deaf person communicate with a hearing person via a Video Interpreter (sign language interpreter) and a videophone DSC0051c” by SignVideo, London, U.K. is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Keeps the Focus on the Applicant

The applicant, not the interpreter, should be the primary focus of your attention. The appropriate focus can be problematic for hearing folks unfamiliar with deaf and hard-of-hearing people. Thus, it is vital to keep in mind that, just like any other interview, your attention should be focused on the candidate as much as possible. 

Do not make the mistake of directing your queries to the interpreter since doing so can make an applicant who is deaf or hard of hearing feel alienated and disrespected. It is acceptable to cast a casual glance at the interpreter now and then or to inquire about the meaning of anything when it is unclear. Still, the focus of your attention should be on the potential new employee as much as is humanly possible.

Employers Must Hire an Interpreter

You, as the employer, are the one who is responsible and accountable for the interpreter. During the interview, the main function of an interpreter is to act as a middle man so to speak. They are there to ensure that communication is flowing naturally. You must appreciate the fact that the interpreter is there for you just as much as they are for the applicant. 

The applicant has to be able to trust the interpreter that has been chosen for them, and they need to know that the interpreter is competent enough to speak verbally on their behalf. If the candidate is deaf or hard of hearing, you should inquire whether they have a particular interpreter they prefer to use. If they do, you should get their contact information and have someone in your Human Resources Department arrange for the interpreter’s participation in the interview. Again you are responsible for paying for these services.

If the applicant does not have a particular interpreter in mind, you should look for a reputable organization that offers licensed ASL interpreters. Give the applicant and the interpreter some time alone before the interview begins so that they can make sure they are comfortable with one another. 

Treats Them the Same as Others

A person who is deaf or hard of hearing must be treated in the same manner as any other applicant. Be cautious not to acquire a condescending attitude toward the candidate or to brag about how “inspired” you are by them because of their hearing loss. It is one thing to be enthused about their credentials or skill set as you would be about any other prospective applicant, but exhibiting an attitude along the lines of excitement over the things they have accomplished with a hearing loss, may marginalize the candidate and generate hatred toward them. Leave your unconscious bias at the door as you go in, and don’t look back!

All Aspects of the Interview are Shared

There is a possibility that you are unaware of the fact that sign language interpreters are trained to convey EVERY part of a dialogue to a person who is deaf or hard of hearing during an interview. This means even the whispers and conversations taking place in the background. All reputable and ethical ASL interpreters will freely interpret everything being said in the room. Therefore, you should not fall into the trap of believing that you can have a secret aside conversation with one of your coworkers “under your breath.” 

If the interpreter overhears it, they will convey the information to the candidate. You can never ask the interpreter not to translate things that were said in the room with the applicant, no matter how badly you want to take back what you just said. The whole job of the interpreter is to translate everything that is being said in the room, including body language, tone of voice, and more.

Final Thoughts

By keeping some of the information mentioned above in mind, you and your business or organization may locate some exceptionally qualified, accomplished job candidates and conduct a successful interview with a deaf or hard-of-hearing candidate.

Are you a hiring manager looking to hire deaf and hard-of-hearing people? If so, reach out to us at Unspoken Language Services. Our qualified interpreters are here to help you bridge the communication gap between you and your potential employees. You can significantly expand your pool of potential employees by bridging the communication gap and creating an inclusive working environment. 

Thumbnail Photo Credit to: “MEP Ádám Kósa and deaf-dumb interpreter” by European Parliament is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.