Both Sides of the Interview Desk

By Peggy O'Dell

Published in: Update - Issue 1 - 2017 »   
Photo of Kevin sitting at a table in a workspace looking at an open laptop with black lab Leader Dog Sailor lying on the floor next to him in harness

After more than 20 years working as a human resources professional, Kevin O’Callaghan has been on both sides of the interview desk. He has special insight into the challenges that people who are visually impaired can face in the job market, as well as how to integrate a Leader Dog into the work environment once you get the job.

In his own professional experience, having a Leader Dog has never been a problem. What mattered to interviewers was whether he was the right person for the job, not the dog lying quietly at his feet. “During an interview you have to let your integrity and past experience show people who you really are,” he said.

Kevin advises job seekers to be prepared and go into every interview with confidence. “You might not get the first job you interview for, but it’s important to use every interview as an opportunity to show your leadership skills.”

In the workplace, his current Leader Dog, Sailor, fits easily into his daily routine. “Everyone is so used to having a dog at work that sometimes I think they forget why she’s there,” he said.

Photo of Kevin walking with Leader Dog Sailor in harness in a large warehouse. Another man walks next to Kevin and they appear to be having a conversation

Kevin was teamed with Sailor, his fourth Leader Dog, just last summer, and they have already travelled extensively together. “She caught on very quickly. She just curls up on the floor and is usually asleep before the plane is fully loaded,” he laughed. Whether in the air or in the office, Kevin has walked confidently with a dog beside him for more than 20 years. “I can’t image my life without a Leader Dog,” he said. “I definitely would not have achieved my level of success without a dog at my side.”

Kevin’s Three Tips on Interviewing for People who are Visually Impaired.

  1. As you make the transition from college to career, be confident but humble. You have already achieved so much. Be proud of yourself!
  2. Be open to showing the interviewer the tools you have that will allow you to work independently and get the job done. Demonstrate your talking phone or GPS unit.
  3. Don’t settle! You don’t have to take any job that is offered to you. Assess the company as much as they are assessing you. Look for the right fit and don’t sell yourself short.