During our studies Anthropology, we have constantly been urged to be conscious of our own position. Who are we, what kind of environment are we in? What kind of experiences or knowledge do we possess, and in what way do our experiences affect our views? And in what way do we affect these environments that we are in, with our own views? When you do research as an anthropologist about a certain culture, and you are trying to understand a culture, you are to understand yourself first. When you understand yourself, and know your weaknesses, know what your opinions and visions are based on, that is when you are able to (partially) understand a different culture or community. It is even so important to be aware of your own prejudices, privileges, and conceptions. But the fact that you are a woman or a man, a white person or a Black person, and deaf or hearing, will always have an influence on how people react to you.
In a previous article I have written about how to positively communicate your deafness towards the job market. I want to expand on this by sharing with you a certain interview question that I was asked, and how I responded.
“Why should we hire you?”
Note: this was for a position that requires analysis and problem solving, involving computer science, programming and statistics.
This is a pretty common interview question. It is usually asked in the last stage of the interview process, as it means that you have passed your skill tests and company culture fit tests. The answer to this ultimate question helps the hiring manager to decide between all the candidates who reached the last stage of the interview process. It is here that you have to make yourself stand out from all the other candidates.
What value can I add to this company by being there? How can I help this company in improving by working there? What special features do I have that can be beneficial to this company?
It was at this moment that I thought about Deaf Gain. Deaf Gain, being the playful antonym of “hearing loss”, is defined as a reframing of “deaf” as a form of sensory and cognitive diversity that has the potential to contribute to the greater good of humanity (Bauman and Murray, 2009). So I responded with the following:
By being Deaf I may have a different viewpoint towards problems. I may see certain issues that are otherwise not visible to most people, such as the need for closed captions in movies and other film media. I may have a different approach to solving problems, such as adding visual cues or details to an interface, or enriching the interface with a different method of input such as sign language or gestures. By working with me, my colleagues will become aware of these issues, these possibilities, and learn from them. They will learn about a minority group, and be made aware of its existence in society. I am an example for others on how it could be different for certain people. By being there, I can highlight human diversity inside the company, and in society. By hiring me, everyone will benefit from the new experience in working with me.
As mentioned before, it was for a position that requires analysis and problem solving. If your case is different, you may need to reword it a little bit so that it is applicable to your situation. It is my hope that this article has given you some inspiration, so that you can take advantage of your Deaf identity in your quest on the job market!
I have a profile on LinkedIn, and from time to time I get approached by recruiters, who sometimes have a pretty interesting offer I’d like to know more about. As it is a profile to show the best of you, positivity is an important factor, and that is the reason I do not write that I am deaf – which unfortunately has the negative connotation that you can not hear. However, I add under Languages the fact that I know several sign languages, with “native or bilingual proficiency”. This is one of the examples I’d like to share with you on what to do to improve your position on the job market as a deaf professional.
Continue reading Job interviews – how to positively communicate your deafness
Translated from Dutch. Original article by Gaston Dorren.
When I told my friends that I had joined a sign language course, there were two kinds of surprising reactions. Firstly, they showed much more interest than when I was learning Danish, Spanish, Russian, Norwegian, Romanian or Czech. (No, I don’t speak those languages. And yes, my friends got a lot to digest.) Sign languages seem to entice a lot of curiosity.
Secondly, even though my friend circles consist of a lot of master degree holders, and a doctor, I heard quite a few distressingly misinformed remarks about sign language. Despite so much evangelism in the beginning of the eighties by linguists and sign language advocates, many of the first misconceptions are still around. This is why I have set myself a simple goal: I will summarize seven common, but incorrect assumptions, and will deal with every one of them.