Wouter Thielen: How to use the concept of Deaf Gain in job interviews

Posted on August 27, 2015

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In a previous article I wrote 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!

If you have any questions or experiences to share, you can email Wouter at: wouter@morannon.org. He says: “if there is any advice I can give you, I will reply to you personally.”

Wouter Thielen is a trilingual software engineer from the Netherlands, and currently resides in Tokyo, Japan. He mostly writes about software and web development, and from time to time shares some experiences or expresses an opinion as a deaf individual.

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