At this time of economic gloom and woe, I am almost embarrassed to report I have landed another job interview.
I am confident that I deserve this interview as I wrote (well, typed, thanks to the accessible glory that is an online application) next to every disability-linked question and every 'if you are shortlisted for interview'-linked question that I was NOT requesting an interview under the Two Ticks scheme* and did NOT want to be shortlisted on the basis of my disability.
My only concern is taking the time off from my existing job to attend the interview, as it's on a day when we tend to be both busy and understaffed at the best of times. I'll have a word with my manager today. I suspect I'll end up stashing jeans and trainers at work the day before, so that I can go in straight from interview and change out of my suit there.
I realise this is really quite a smug position to be in.
*The Two Ticks Scheme
This is a scheme that quite a few large employers sign up to, recognisable by a symbol of two ticks encircled by the tagline "positive about disabled people". The part of it that is relevant here is a pledge that if a disabled candidate has shown on their application that they meet the minimum stated requirements for a job, that candidate gets an automatic interview. This helps, because a lot of disabled people wouldn't make the first cut due to things like:
- one or more long periods of unemployment
- previous employment mostly in an entirely different field
- an unusual pattern of education
- employer prejudices
... the idea being that once a person is in an interview setting, they can better explain and show how they are the right person for the job, how their nonstandard CV is proof of their ability to adapt to situations and overcome obstacles, how they are pleasant and competent individuals who will be an asset rather than a burden to the existing team, and so on. Or indeed not, as the case may be. Either way, the person gets interview practice, hopefully some interview feedback so that they have an idea where they should improve things, and a greater chance of getting a job when their CV might otherwise have gone straight into the bin.
Which is all great, but there's a flipside. Going to an interview takes up time, energy, and money, three things that your average disabled job applicant is not rolling in. You have to get your suit cleaned and your shirt ironed, you have to research the company, practise some answers for likely questions, arrange for a lift or pay for the taxis there and back, you have to deal with spending the 24 hours beforehand feeling utterly queasy with nerves.
If you already work, then it's even worse. You have to have that uncomfortable little discussion with your boss that (s)he might be about to get asked for a reference. You have to worry about whether the knowledge that you applied for another job is going to adversely affect you when it comes to managerial decisions about promotions or redundancies or pay cuts. You have to book time off work, and if that's not possible and the interviewers can't offer a different day, you have to start weighing up abandoning the interview vs throwing a sickie...
All of which might very well be worth it, if there's a genuine chance of getting a decent job at the end of it.
Unfortunately for a Two Ticks candidate, a job will (and must, and should) always go to the person most competent to do that job. If you meet the minimum criteria and turn up for a Two Ticks interview, and five other people (disabled or otherwise) are being interviewed who meet and exceed the maximum criteria, well, you're never going to get that job.
Also unfortunately, nepotism is alive and well and probably always will be. I have seen a couple of jobs where the position was publicly advertised (because it's a requirement of the company policy), the disabled candidates were interviewed (because it's a requirement of the Two Ticks scheme), and then everybody had to try and not look surprised when the position went to, at best, an internal candidate, and at worst, the repugnant offspring of the managing director.
In such situations, the Two Ticks candidate has NO chance of getting the job. All (s)he gets is a lot of expense and hassle and a smidgen of interview experience. Which is fine if interview experience is what you want... but personally, I'd rather only attend interviews where I know I have a reasonable chance of being the one who gets the job.
Edited for grammar 22:27 12/02/09