About a year ago, I was asked by our Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agency to participate in interviews for a job opening they were trying to fill. I imagine I was asked because I am chair of the SILC.
On the day of the interviews, each of the three interviewers was given a set of pre-approved questions with strict instructions not to deviate from them. We were asked to score each response and total them to determine who the best interviewees were.
Now, I understand why this method was used. It reduces opportunities for favoritism, nepotism, etc. and keeps the process above reproach. It also, however, prevents intuitively selecting candidates based upon potential rather than experience.
Of the seven or eight applicants for the job, two rose to the top. One had much more experience working in the disability community, so he was chosen.
There was, however, a third interviewee who all of us felt should have been in the final three, if not at the top. This man, who was probably in his late fifties, was incredibly nervous. He had been laid off during the recession and been unemployed for several years. Here was another guy who had submitted hundreds of applications, but only got one or two interviews. And he was blowing it.
If this was any other situation, I would have looked more closely at this man, taking time to establish rapport with him and making him more comfortable. I would have asked more questions, giving him an opportunity to expand his responses. I would have given him opportunities to creatively build upon his ideas.
Think of the implications for people with disabilities. What is the likelihood that our consumers will even get an interview? What are the chances that they will be nervous if they do get one? We need a system where we can by-pass these rigid hiring systems. We could call it “affirmative action.”