Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Here’s a set of hypothetical questions based on a real live person’s real situation [not me!]
Your gut reactions would be interesting, and maybe even useful.



Imagine you are the hire and fire person for a company – a large company – that has a very large administration section. You’ve advertised for someone to work in your payroll section with four other people. Not to be in charge of the payroll, just to process parts of it.

You receive an application from a woman who is a qualified chef but now wants a desk job. She has completed ¾ of a bookkeeping diploma at a TAFE, and as well as the usual accounting theory and so on, has successfully studied the practicalities and ins and outs of payroll including income tax, employee deductions, state payroll tax, and the way companies make payroll deposits to different banks.
She is still working part-time as a chef while studying, and has recently spent 9 months in a temporary, full-time job in a data processing centre – as well as cheffing and studying.

Promising so far? If the application looks neat and well typed with no mistakes and if she actually had the qualifications necessary to do the job, would you put her application in the “might get an interview” pile?

wotcha reckon?



You make an interview appointment with the applicant. Two people arrive at the appointed time, and you discover that the applicant is a deaf person, accompanied by an interpreter. The applicant is clean and well presented, and seems to have a pleasant smile.

What are the first thoughts and/or questions going through your mind?
These might be personal thoughts, or job related.

That’s all for now. Any honest feedback would be appreciated.


  1. I reckon the first one should get an interview. Its not always qualifications that makes a person good at their job. Teachers are a good example. The most qualified don't always make good teachers.
    With the deaf person, my first reaction would be "Could a deaf person do this job, if so they should be given the opportunity to try for it.

    1. Oh Diane, my lousy writing was confusing... I think what I was trying to do was say IF a person was qualified WOULD it matter to you if they did not say in their initial application that they are deaf. Nonetheless, you have given me what I was after, which was your reaction - i.e. not say they should get it because they are deaf, and not say they can't get it because they are deaf. Every case on it's merits.
      Of course, this is not a test that has a specific right answer, but I like yours just the same.

  2. In my head I would run through how her lack of hearing would affect the job she does. Does she lip read or use a hearing aid? Is hearing really relevant to the job? The important thing is I suppose, does she think she can do the job, and apparently she does as she didn't see the need to mention her lack of hearing when she applied, hence she does not need inconvenient or expensive allowances made for her.

    Sign your contract here darls, he said as his tongue slowly circled his lips.

    1. Andrew, your closing comment makes me wonder if you have ever been a casting director for a theatre company in a past life... or writing Mills and Boons novels as a sideline.

      More good feedback, thank you.

  3. I can't see why I wouldn't hire either of these people.

    For the deaf person...Since I'm ignorant about the subject. I'd wonder why she/he couldn't read lips. Or why she couldn't communicate with me through writing (if she couldn't speak well). I'd wonder if the interpreter was there just for the initial interview; or if she was always going to be there.

    But not that it would matter. If the deaf person was always going to have the interpreter...I don't think it would bother me or the company.

    I would just be curious.

    As long as the job didn't involve a lot of hearing and talking...I think I'd be fine.

    If it DID involve a lot of hearing and talking, I wouldn't have an automatic no. I'd be curious to how they plan to work it all out.

    1. Another interesting response, thank you Dina.

      What I have been wondering is whether employers would be annoyed if she did not reveal in her application that she is deaf.
      Also whether, if taken by surprise about her deafness they would be too embarrassed - or lack time to think - to ask a lot of important questions.

      I don't know the detail of how she has been going about job hunting, except she is getting more interviews than average but not getting hired. As Andrew has suggested, she would be unlikely to apply for a job she could not do e.g. telephonist.

      To answer some questions, a lot of deaf people can lip read but only if speaking people look at them while talking, and don't mumble.

      Few deaf people have zero hearing, even if they do not have a 'functional' level of hearing. Most wear hi tech hearing aids for safety e.g. they can pick up the sound of a fire siren or a car horn.

      A great deal of inter and intra office communication these days is by email. I've known people who sit next to each other to send emails back and forth because it provides a written record, and it saves the recipient from having to take notes.

      An A4 size [standard sheet of paper] whiteboard on a desk makes it easier for people to scribble something if they want a quick word.

      The government pays for an interpreter for job interviews. This just makes it easier for the exchange of detailed questions and answers.

      I think there is also some help available for a few days of settling in. Once the person gets the basics of a job, the odd extra bit of communication about the job wouldn't need an interpreter. The help is, I think, a one off bonus [$600??] to help with the purchase of any special equipment or for an interpreter while training.

      There were about 600 people processing the census data, and it has long been a joke that the public service is a "sheltered" workshop. A large number of staff hired came from "categories" most likely to have trouble finding work.
      There were about 15 deaf workers, and 3 full time interpreters who also worked as supervisors. Their output was enormous because they didn't do a lot of gossiping, and were not distracted by noise.

      What surprised me was that after a while it didn't matter that people didn't know AUSLAN, and it was quite easy to communicate about the weather or to crack jokes - all it requires is to let go of some inhibitions about possibly looking stupid trying to mime things.

      Like most languages, we don't need to learn the whole lingo, just the important things like please and thank you, hello, and a couple of swear words.

    2. Thank you for answering my questions!

      As for not revealing the hearing impairment.

      I may be naive; but if it's not an impairment for the job, I don't see why it has to be revealed initially.

      It reminds me of racial issues. My husband is Asian, but he has a white man's name and an American accent. On the phone or on an application, there's no way to know he's not white.

      I think sometimes people are surprised to see this when they come face to face with him.

      Does he need to say "By the way. I was born in Korea and I look Asian?"

      If a deaf person can do the job, I don't see why they have to say "By the way...I'm deaf."

      I think it's fine for it to be a surprise.

    3. I accept Windsmoke's suggestion that it would be better to be up front... and I think people would naturally be wondering about HOW to answer health and safety issues, or how someone deaf can fit in to a job. These are valid questions because deaf people lack some abilities speaking people have. On the other hand, if it's not an issue it shouldn't be an issue.

      Yes, the idea that someone who looks "different" [from what, I might ask] is absurd.
      In the 1960s I found a library book - published in an America - about applying for a job. I was horrified to see a suggestion that African-Americans should add a small photo with their [snail mail] application. Prejudice might be stupid, but who wants to waste their time going for interviews that are a waste of time?
      Thankfully, the world has moved on a bit since then.

  4. For me i probably wouldn't employ her because she failed to disclose that she was deaf which brings about a whole range of health and safety issues. One of the issues would be is the workplace suitable for a deaf person and would the employer be prepared to make the workplace suitable for a deaf person.

    1. Windsmoke, you are a champ. Thanks for your feedback.

  5. Hi FruitCake

    I am the person you describe (someone who hires for such roles).
    I wouldn't care that she didn't disclose her deafness in her CV.
    Being deaf would potentially make it harder for her to get the role depending on the alternative candidate as it would make communications more difficult.
    On the other hand if the role required attention to detail (which it probably did) being deaf could be an advantage.
    The sad truth is in a very competitive job market anything that looks like a problem (such as a handicap) to an employer is a mark against you.

    A deaf person needs to come to the interview with answers for the employer perceived problems,such as your examples for communications and turn their "weakness" into a "feature". "because I am deaf I am not interupted so easily"

    1. Hi Big Dog,

      Thanks for the feedback. I think one of my friend's problems is that she is reliant on an interpreter at interview, and it's a different person each time. If she has to meet them at the workplace there is little chance of them getting to know someone very well before trying to do some "selling" on the applicant'f behalf.

      If I try to imagine the situation, it's possible that having an interpreter at the interview in some ways exaggerates the communication difficulty by focusing on it, and not demonstrating the extent to which they could communicate without having an interpreter all the time.

      Do you think a "cheat sheet" with half a dozen photos and captions would help "e.g. My hearing aids can pick up the sounds of an evacuation siren. If someone is shouting I am aware it is happening." ?

  6. I think I would put together an FAQ to take to the interview and if it was done well it could be half the interview. Personally I might include a bit of humour in this document to help ease the tension, eg. Can I hear a fire alarm? No I just work through fires making me far more productive than your average worker, my life is nothing compared to my commitment to your business. :) Actually yes I can hear a fire alarm.

    If your friend can manage it not taking the interpreter would be a good idea as it tends to focus on the disability.

    You need to make a list as to why being a deaf employee is better than an hearing one, including "I have a strong incentive to do a good job because finding understanding empoyers like you is tough" But others such as I don't waste time gossiping, no one flirts with me, I don't waste time on the phone with my girlfriends etc (so some of these are tounge in check but you get the idea)

    Do not include being deaf in your CV. These documents are used to get rid of people from the interview list, any excuse to not make the top three will be taken by a time presured employer.

    Attitude, Skills, Experience; The three things you are considering in an interview, two of these an employer can provide but you have to bring the right Attitude with you, sell your attitude your friend clearly has the right one given her training, working etc.

    And don't forget "as a chef I make great chocolate cake on my birthday." After all who doesn't like cake.

    1. Big Dog,
      your suggestions are all fantastic. I appreciate the time and thought you have put into offering some advice.

      This might also be a good excuse to drop in for some coffee [chocolate cake with that would be fine, birthday or no birthday].