Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Hebl, M.R. & Skorinko, J.L. (2005). Acknowledging one's physical disability in the interview: Does "when" make a difference?. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 35 (12), 2477-2492.
Title:  Acknowledging one's physical disability in the interview: Does "when" make a difference?
Authors:  Hebl, M.R. & Skorinko, J.L.
Year:  2005
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Applied Social Psychology
Publisher:  Blackwell Publishing Ltd
DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2005.tb02111.x
Full text:  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2005.tb02111...   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported

Structured abstract:

Background:  Individuals with physical disabilities have problems gaining and maintaining work. Reasons for unemployment may include: disability related stereotypes held by employers. Disclosure of disability prior to interviewing is one strategy that some people with disabilities use to try to get a job. However, when a disability can be concealed, disclosure may not be advantageous. While the acknowledgment of or addressing visible disability may be useful.
Purpose:  The researchers believed that it is most advantageous for a person with a physical disability to acknowledge their condition early on in the employment process. This thought contributed to the development of the following hypotheses. 1) An applicant with a disability who acknowledges his disability at the beginning or middle of an interview will be viewed more positively on job-related matters than will a disabled applicant who acknowledges the stigma at the end of the interview or one who does not acknowledge at all. 2) an applicant with a disability who acknowledges his disability at the beginning or middle of the interview will be viewed more positively on trait ratings than will a disabled applicant who acknowledges the stigma at the end of the interview or who does not acknowledge at all. 3) The relation between timing and hiring measures will be mediated by perceptions of the applicant's psychological well being. 4) The relation between the timing and trait ratings will be mediated by perceptions of the applicant's psychological well-being.
Setting:  The study took place in a university setting.
Study sample:  Participants included 137 individuals, 88 were female, 45 male and 4 did not disclose. Half were White and the remaining were members of a minority group. The majority of the sample were college students (N=122) from southwestern universities. The remaining participants were employees who had the ability to hire and fire staff.
Data collection and analysis:  Participants understood that they were to be part of a study that was exploring the success of a workshop that had been designed to improve job interviewing skills. They were also told that the workshop provided programs to people with physical disabilities and they would be watching an applicant who either had or had not received the training. The participants were instructed to assume the role of the interviewer and evaluate the applicants who appeared on video using a hiring composite. Trait ratings and associated stereotypes of individuals with physical disabilities were also completed. Participants who were randomly assigned to the acknowledgement condition were asked to describe the applicants' level of well being. They were also asked to complete manipulation checks. Afterwards, all participants were debriefed about the purpose of the study.
Findings:  Applicants who acknowledged their disability at the beginning of the interview were rated more favorably than those who waited until the end. Those who acknowledged at the start also were viewed more favorably on the hiring composite; than those who did not acknowledge at all, however, the difference was not significant. Those who acknowledged at the middle of the interview were viewed more favorably than those who acknowledged at the end of the interview, as well as those who did not acknowledge at all. Applicants who acknowledged at the earlier stages of the interview had a weaker predicted pattern on both the capable and happy trait composites. The main effect of timing was significant for the hiring composite. Female participants rated applicants more capable and happier than males.
Conclusions:  Specifically timed acknowledgements from applicants with physical disabilities about their conditions can make a difference in the way they are evaluated. More favorable impression emerged when applicants acknowledged disability at the beginning or middle of the interview compared to the end or not at all. Applicants with physical disabilities may gain an advantage in the interview by acknowledging their disability in early stages of that process. Those who do so were perceived to have greater well being, which led to more positive ratings. This should help combat stereotypes. More research is needed to determine how applicants with physical disabilities can make a better impression on potential employers during job interviews.