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How to Prepare for a Job Interview If You’re Hard of Hearing

Whether you are 22 or 50, job interviews are stressful. If you have hearing loss, knowing how and when (or whether) to reveal you have difficulty hearing typically increases nervousness. Imagine you are sitting in a job interview, and didn’t understand the question just asked. You ask the manager to repeat it, but again can’t make out exactly what the employer is saying. You know that you have hearing loss, but they don’t — and this interview is going downhill fast. Here’s how to make the most of the interview process from start to finish:

Research before the interview

Finding out what tasks the job requires can help you prepare questions about duties for which you might require accommodations. While asking those questions will likely reveal you have a special need, you are not required to state that you have hearing loss during an interview nor can the potential employer ask you if you are hard of hearing.

Take control of your phone interview

You should feel encouraged, not panicked, by a telephone interview request. It means a company is interested in your qualifications to fill their position. While you can say that you prefer a face-to-face interview there’s no guarantee the company will agree. If you proceed with the phone interview, consider these tips:

  • Schedule the interview for a convenient time when you know you can arrange to be in a quiet area with the least amount of distractions.
  • Prepare some responses in advance. After you have researched the company and job requirements, you should have a good idea of how to explain the value in hiring you.
  • Use a landline phone for the clearest possible connection. Setting hearing aids with telecoils built in on “T-coil” can alleviate some problems like feedback on the call, although not all telecoils are optimized for use with all telephones.
  •  If you have a captioned telephone that can definitely help, but unexpected delays are a possibility, as well as occasional errors by the voice recognition software, putting you in a position where you might have to explain why you are pausing so long before responding or seemingly misunderstood questions. Better options, especially if you need to take the call using your smartphone, include the following:
    • If you wear hearing aids that can be paired with wireless accessories, consider investing in a streamer accessory that lets you stream audio from a phone directly into your hearing aids for greater clarity.
    • If your hearing aids have wireless Bluetooth® direct to iPhone® connectivity, you’ll be able to stream the call directly into your hearing aids with high-definition quality and maximum speech understanding.
    • Remember: even streaming functionality won’t help if your cellphone reception is sub-optimal, so be sure to take the call where that will not be a problem.

Maximize your face-to-face interview

Assuming you do well on the phone interview, the next challenge is meeting in person.These tips can help boost your confidence:

  • Remember to stay calm. Taking a few deep breaths before the interview can help ease your nerves.
  • Control the environment as much as possible by placing yourself in full view of the interviewer(s). This can make it easier to read lips, expressions, and other visual cues, so you can better understand questions.
  • If the room is noisy, ask if you can move to a quieter location.
  • If you wear hearing aids, make sure they’re set to the appropriate program for your listening environment, so that they focus in on the interviewer’s voice and reduce any background noise.

When is the right time to reveal a hearing loss?

There is no “right” time to state that you have hearing loss, because the answer will be different for everybody. If you have mild hearing loss, chances are you may not need to mention it at all. If your hearing loss is more serious, and you are not a master of reading lips or struggle on phone calls, you should consider letting your potential employer know so that they can make appropriate accommodations.

Remember, if you project confidence during the interview process that you are the best person for the position and hearing loss won’t impede your ability to do the job (with or without reasonable, legally-required accommodations) chances are your potential employer will feel the same way.