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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Is Using Relay Call Bad Move for Job Interview?

A clothing company recently emailed me, saying they would like to interview me for a seamstress
position. They had no idea at all that I was deaf, & I didn't even bother to disclose it to them anyway because it was really none of their business. They said my resume had been on their file for a while. If I remember correctly, the last time I submitted a job application to their company's website was about 4 years ago. After that, they never respond to my resume. I just assumed they'd found someone with more experience than me.
The recruiter wanted to interview me by phone, so they asked for my phone number. They wanted to know more about my sewing experience, my education, & what I have done since I last sent them the job application. Of course, I gave them my number, & still, I did not mention the fact that it was a video relay. In the back of my mind, I was nervous about how they would react to it when they call. I did not know how to tell them for fear that it might influence their opinion of me as a professional.
A day later...
I sat by my phone and waited for a call at an exact time they said they'd call because I did not like having that call go to the sign mail if I miss it. Finally, the visual ringing came up on my phone's screen, prompting me to thumb-touch on the little green phone-shaped icon. A video popped up as it showed a sign language interpreter explaining (I hate that part!) to the caller about the video relay.
After the interpreter finished explaining, the caller sounded somewhat confused for a few moment at first & then cleared her throat. She began by asking, "uh, this Sarah?"
I replied, "Yes, this is Sarah."
She then said, "We wanted to interview you about one of our available positions for seamstresses. We reviewed your resume & wanted to know what you have done since you last submitted your job application?" Or something along that line.
I answered her questions & elaborated my experience of working as a seamstress. It lasted about five minutes of our phone interview, & then she said she'd call me to set up a real job interview, which she never did. I'm sure she's found someone who was more qualified than me, but that's OK.
I have to say, conversing in the video relay with a job interviewer who had never heard of it made the situation very awkward. Should I have explained the relay call to recruiter before doing a job interview? I feared it might confuse them because it wasn't something they have accustomed to.
Have you ever encountered a problem like this?


  1. Hello. I just read your disclaimer that no links would be published. I posted some comments that included job links for the deaf. I am a hearing person but never realized how difficult it was for the hearing impaired to find jobs. I did some searches as I used to be an employment recruiter and posted some links for job websites that are hiring for deaf employees. I do not think you received them or they might have been flagged as spam. I would like to work with you to possibly set up an employment listing section on your website. I am not very technologically savvy enough to set up my own but would like to help you all in your job searches. Please let me know if you are interested.

    Thank you

  2. To be honest, I think you were discriminated against and that the reason you were never contacted for the "real interview" as promised is because the phone interviewer realized you were deaf and didn't want to hire a deaf person. As they have kept track of your resume for a while, and actively reached out to you in the first place, I find it hard to believe that the phone interviewer would "suddenly" find a more experienced candidate in such a short amount of time. It's just too much of a coincidence, and it seems you're bending over backwards to give this interviewer the benefit of the doubt. I don't think I need to point out that for a position such as seamstress, taking phone calls would not usually be an "essential" part of the job duties, or at least not one that can't be easily accommodated or outsourced to another employee. So do with this knowledge of discrimination what you will. What I would have done in your scenario would be to let the interviewer know BEFORE the interview that it will be conducted through TTY technology, so that there are no awkward surprises. Surprises like that often come across as deception to the employer -- if you're hiding the fact that you're deaf until the last minute, what else are you hiding? -- or at the very least like you're not confident enough in your disability to reveal it upfront.