Changing Workplaces: Accessible Recruitment, Interviews and Onboarding

Thu 18 February 2021

Group of people in corporate attire sitting at a table having a meeting. One person is standing up and shaking the hand of someone sitting down.

Over the past year, the world around us has changed. For many our working life has shifted to a hybrid between days in the office and days working from home.  

In this article, we share how to deliver fair and accessible recruitment, interviews and onboarding practices during a time of change in how we work.  

Recruitment – attracting the talent  

Leading Australian organisations understand the benefits of a diverse work force and are committed to ensuring their recruitment and selection processes are accessible to people with disability 

We know that being disability confident makes good business sense and leads to 

  • a wider talent pool, ensuring the right people are selected for the right roles 
  • higher rates of employee retention  
  • improved reputation of business with a positive employee and consumer experience 
  • supporting the rights of people with disability. 

How can organisations get the best talent for their roles if recruitment is inaccessible, and interested candidates aren’t able to apply? To provide barrier free and inclusive recruitment practices: 

  • Set out clear expectations of role requirements in the position description. Focus on the essential requirements of the role. This will enable any candidate, including candidates with disability, to opt in or out of applying for the role. 
  • Ensure there is an accessible position description available alongside the online posting, so potential candidates using screen readers can view.  
  • Ask on the application form if candidates require any adjustments to participate equitably in the recruitment processImplementing adjustments to the recruitment process enables candidates with disability to compete on a level playing field.   
  • Ask during the application phase about a candidate’s preferred method of communication. Not all candidates will communicate via a phone call. 
  • Ask all candidates at each stage of the recruitment process if they require any adjustmentsThis includes adjustments to participate in online tests or assessments 

Interviewing candidates 

Once you have shortlisted candidates, the focus is on delivering accessible and inclusive interview experiences.

Booking the interview 

  • Check candidate’s preferred method of contact – is it by phoneemail or other methodContact the candidate using their preferred method of communication. 
  • Ask the candidate if they require any adjustments to attend their interview. For example, adjustments could be in relation to the time of the interview, communication requirements or receiving interview questions in advance.  
  • Provide details on the expectations of the interview. Will the interview be online or in person. If online, which platform will be used, can captioning be provided if required and how many people will be present.

Day of the interview 

  • Ask the candidate if they require any additional adjustments before the interview starts to make them more comfortable. 
  • Asking behavioural questions that relate to the essential requirements of the role is good practice. Avoid personal and invasive questions pertaining to a candidate’s disability, it has no bearing on their performance in the role and is not appropriate 


The future of work is likely to see people working in hybrid environments between the office and home. It’s unlikely that many organisations will continue to have employees in the office five days a week.

This will impact onboarding processes, which may be a mix of onboarding in the office and virtually. Although it can be a more challenging approach,  there are several practices that can ensure a successful onboarding process. This was demonstrated through the Stepping Into Internship Program in July 2020 with 70% of interns working either partially or entirely from home. Here are some of the key learnings when onboarding in a hybrid environment:

  • Set clear expectations – Supervisors found that setting clear expectations from the start of the internship helped develop a transparent working relationship with their intern. This included setting expectations on work output and deadlines, and a communication plan of how many times they would catch up per week. When onboarding a new employee, managing and discussing expectations early and frequently checking in can help new hires feel comfortable in their role and connected to their team.  
  • Discuss workplace adjustments – Like a lot of people, Travis, Stepping Into Intern at Yarra Valley Water, already had his working from home set up to include the relevant equipment he needed to work productively. His only request regarding adjustments was flexible working hours. It’s important that open communication is established between managers and new employees so they feel comfortable requesting workplace adjustments for the office or home environment.

“I let Travis know that there is a high degree of flexibility and autonomy with his role and how he structures his working hours and breaks. Travis completed a, timesheet on a weekly basis recording total hours worked and we checked in daily. He let me know if he can’t attend any of our virtual team meetings” – Andrew Radion, intern supervisor at Yarra Valley Water.

  • Staying connected – For Stepping Into managers and interns, the new work arrangements meant there was need for new ways of building connections amongst teams. Managers and interns had daily check-ins to discuss work tasks, weekly meetings to ensure adjustments were effective, and had team catch ups to promote social inclusion. Having regular catch ups helps new hires to stay connected. Assigning a ‘buddy’ for a wellbeing check-in also proves beneficial. 

“I was working in the office but now I’m working from home all the time… I don’t feel alone. They [co-workers] have regular check ins and even have a virtual trivia this afternoon! The team is really supportive” Lea Fleming, intern at VIC Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

  • Meeting in person where possible  One Stepping Into intern at NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet initially worked both in the office and from home, later transitioning to working from home entirely. Working remotely really worked for the intern, but the intern found it valuable to meet their team in person first. For new hires, meeting the team in person initially can help foster a sense of belonging and establish a connection with the team before transitioning to a hybrid style of working. 


Remember, you should always ask the person what adjustments they require and what works best for them.


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