job interview

4 Ways to Get Through Job Interviews With Aphasia

Going to a job interview is stressful in the best of circumstances. Going to a job interview when you have aphasia adds a whole extra level of frustrations to navigate. Take a deep breath. We’ve provided four ideas to help get you through the process.

Deep Breath

Yes, we’ll start with that deep breath. Not only did we tell you to take one to center yourself, but taking a deep breath before you answer a question will give you time to collect your thoughts. Interviews are not a race; you can take the time you need to think before you begin speaking. When you practice your interview questions, also practice those deep, deliberate breaths. They’ll calm you down and give you time to get started.

Silence could even work in your favour, according to this article from the BBC. Instead of looking at these pauses as a problem, make them into something that is working to help you to speak deliberately and highlight what you want people to hear. Hey, it worked for Steve Jobs.

Practice Makes Perfect

No, we can’t see into the future and predict everything you’ll be asked, but there are common questions out there that you can use to practice ahead of time.

Inc has a list of the 27 most common questions, the Muse has the 31 most common questions, and Glassdoor has the top 50. Sit down with these questions and a friend and have them run through a few pretend interviews. Jot down notes so you remember what you want to say and then practice, practice, practice.

Be Honest

Should you tell your potential employer about your aphasia? Yes. Tell them without apology because you have nothing to apologize for. Tell them without embarrassment because you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Aphasia is one fact about you, and one fact only.

People will take their cue from you, so if you are comfortable addressing it, they will be comfortable addressing it. You can reassure them that aphasia does not affect a person’s intellect. You can point out that aphasia means you slow down and think deliberately; that you’re not going to be an impulsive employee. Ask them if they have any questions about aphasia because you’d be happy to answer them.

Remember, no apologies. Show them that aphasia makes you a unique individual, and that unique point-of-view will help you bring something different to their workplace.

Ask for What You Need

You are interviewing your potential employer just as much as they are interviewing you. So tell them how you best communicate. Does it help you to have them repeat the question twice? Write down their words? Give you a chance to find the word you want through circumlocution? Do you get overwhelmed if more than one person is speaking to you at the same time? Be open about what you need and ask for it before the interview.

If they’re not willing to accommodate your needs, you’re getting a glimpse into how they’ll be as an employer. A good interviewer will see more than the aphasia; they’ll see the unique qualities that you can bring to their work place. So thank the people who help you do your best job, and let go the ones who show you beginning with the interview that they’re not going to support the members of their team.

What advice would you add for people who are going back to the workforce while navigating aphasia?

Photo by on Unsplash



  • Julie shulman
    November 8, 2017 at 4:02 pm

    I am an SLP in Israel whobis trying to create an organization to advocate and provide support for people with aphasia. I would love to hear your thoughts about vocational training after aphasia and what are the possible job opportunities? Often times people don’t have a direction and need professional assistance.
    Please contact me.

  • Anonymous
    November 13, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    I just started a new job, after 100 applications and more than 8 months without a job I had to take the one who called me for the interview. It’s lower pay and hard work. This place works on how fast and how quickly you can get your work done. Times are very different today, everyone is about time. What takes people 8 minuets it takes me 45 to 60 min to get done. They already cut my hours, I’m doomed. Maybe with all the stress I’ll have the big stroke that will end my misery.

  • Carole
    November 15, 2017 at 5:30 pm

    My sister has Primary Progressive Aphasia. I am her helper. I know she struggles every day and so I feel your pain as much as someone who doesn’t have yourpersonally struggle can. I hope you have some good days ahead even though it sounds pretty tough right now. I don’t know the cause of your Aphasia so don’t know if you can look forward to improving your performance over time, but if that is possible, then do your best to keep trying and know that some of us out here are thinking of you and rooting for you.

  • sandra j lee
    November 17, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    From last year Sept, I almost died

  • sandra j lee
    November 17, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Since last year Sept, I almost died, however, l am grateful of my problems. I have some problems speaking and/or understanding certain words, due to results of Stroke & Aphasia. I would love to work (use to work at HP), but I would consider working simple jobs (jewerly, Avon, etc).

  • M Kovach
    January 5, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I have aphasia and I am currently a substitute teacher at the local high school. I have a masters degree with a 4.0 in healthcare administration but am unable to do anything related to it. Although substitute teaching does not pay much, subbing at the local high school is ok because all I do is go to a class and read some very basic instructions to the students who generally already know what they need to do – so I basically site and make shore they are doing their work. Generally pretty boring and not anything like the VP of human resources job that I had before for 20 years.

  • CFOX
    January 26, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Dear whomever reads this, aphasia from stroke is the only thing I can comment about not from other entities. Know this: if you are on the hunt for a job, you are significantly better off than many of your fellow strike survivors. As such, be proud of yourself. With time and experience you will make progress in spite what you’ve been led to believe. Have faith in yourself and remain steadfast.
    I say these things as a surgeon who survived a carotid dissection and dense hemispheric stroke at 44 y/o . Aphasia has affected me since and I continue to adapt, adjust, and endeavor. But, I never excuse my disability.

  • Marlene director
    October 30, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    My son, almost 44years old had a stroke at 42 and was a partner in a law firm. He has apraxia….less common than aphasia, though a part of it. He’s able to think about the words and phrases he wants to say but the muscles won’t let them come out fully. He’s made great strides and continues to do so…..he’s upbeat…a definite plus and is well aware that his lawyer days are probably over. He’s getting state vocational training and hopes to get a job in the new year. It sure helps to remain optimistic!!!!!!

  • bruce lill
    December 7, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    I was lucky as I work for my self. As a computer Consultant I was scared to be with out a job. I found I can easily read & write software, but not very well with humans. My customers stayed with me, as I could get the work done. Work doesn’t require to spend on the phone a lot, I just do emails. Online Spell checking has been a great assistants, I just type in and then work out the spelling errors. With technology I would be retired.

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