Reasonable adjustments

Discuss what to expect in job and course interviews, what topics might be covered, how to manage anxiety, and how to get the desired result!
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lingua_franca
Posts: 924
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Reasonable adjustments

Post by lingua_franca » Wed Oct 07, 2015 12:36 am

I didn't get the last job I interviewed for (although I had some lovely positive feedback that matched my own appraisal of how things had gone - I thought as I walked out that I'd done well, but probably not well enough to get the job, and that turned out to be how it went). Luckily another interview invitation arrived within three days, so I'm preparing for it while buoyed up by the positive experience of the last one. :)

I always ask for one disability-related adjustment at interview, but in this last one it occurred to me that there is a second thing I might add. I have "odd gait and movements" (to quote my neurology report) that once caused me to be ejected from a pub because the bouncer thought I was drunk on arrival, and my body language is often read as awkward or excessively shy when this isn't actually how I'm feeling - it's just how I move, and not something I have that much control over. I wondered about asking the panel not to read too deeply into my body language, but I'm cautious in case it backfires and just draws more attention to it. I also don't want them thinking that a person who presents as I do can't be successful at working with people in significant emotional distress. (I've had that before - a teacher in a PRU told me that the students would never respect me, as "you walk along hugging the wall and it makes you look timid" - um, yes, balance issues mean I like to be near something solid). I know people shouldn't think that way, but the unfortunate truth is that sometimes they do. I'm especially interested in the perspective of qualified CPs - how would you feel if a candidate made this request?
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

Prosopon
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:08 pm

Re: Reasonable adjustments

Post by Prosopon » Wed Oct 07, 2015 5:48 pm

I'm definitely not a qualified CP but I have asked for a similar adjustment to this before so thought it might be useful for me to share my experience. The psychologist who diagnosed me with Asperger Syndrome pointed out that I do not use much body language. When I started applying for jobs and getting interviews, I worried about this and the way it makes me comes across. So for a couple of interviews I asked as an adjustment that the interviewers be aware that I may not use much body language and that this doesn't mean I am unenthusiastic about the role. It definitely didn't hold me back at all as the first job I interviewed for, having asked for this, I got! Since then I have interviewed for another role and asked for the same adjustment (among others I always ask for) and although I was unsuccessful, the whole process was very positive. Both of these were NHS jobs and I have to say the NHS has been exceptional when it comes to accommodating my adjustments and treating me equal to other candidates, despite my lack of body language and the anxious, awkward way I present. For the job I was offered they even changed the whole interview format for me (so I didn't have to attend the group interview as I am disadvantaged in group interviews due to my disabilities).

So from my own experience I would say ask for the adjustment. I would like to think that the majority of people working in the world of psychology would be very open-minded about an adjustment like that and understand that a person with body language "issues" can work well with people in distress, using their other skills to "compensate" if necessary, if that makes sense.
"Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?"

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”

~From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

lingua_franca
Posts: 924
Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:29 pm

Re: Reasonable adjustments

Post by lingua_franca » Wed Oct 07, 2015 7:13 pm

Prosopon, thanks for your input. In the end I camouflaged the request about body language behind my usual request to sit in a chair with arms. I explained that a chair with arms is not essential, but if I don't have one they need to be aware that my body language may come across as extra awkward, and this isn't anxiety but me being preoccupied with balance.

I also have an ASC, along with a couple of other disabilities. The other disabilities I'm open about, as there seems to be less stigma and fewer preconceptions attached to physical difficulties or neuro problems that are physical in scope. The ASC I'm not open about until I know my employer or unless I am very sure the employer is not going to have some stereotypical idea of autistic people as Rainman. Unfortunately mental health professionals aren't immune from that (one who met me for all of five minutes and one who only knows me online have told me that either my diagnosis is wrong or I won't succeed in a caring profession). Although I think the perspective is changing, I don't want to bank on the employer having a nuanced understanding of ASC - I like to have the opportunity to show what I can do and how I do it before I display my labels!
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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sweetpea
Posts: 145
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 5:39 pm

Re: Reasonable adjustments

Post by sweetpea » Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:48 am

^ That sounds like a really good way of making your request in a way that feels both comfortable to you and perfectly reasonable to the interviewers. Fingers crossed the interview is as positive as the previous one, with the added extra of getting the job! :D

Also, at this risk of taking this off-topic (apologies), I just wanted to thank both you and Prosopon for the openness and honesty in your posts. I was diagnosed with an ASC a few weeks ago and have been really struggling to get my head around it and where it leaves me going forwards in terms of work and career etc. Reading your thoughts and experiences around potential adjustments and employers' reactions has been a real help.

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