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.
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.
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?
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