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Acing the Job Interview

Worried your ADHD symptoms will interfere with your next job interview? Our step-by-step guide will help you focus your preparation, plan answers to common interview questions, and feel confident in your success.

Woman interviewing ADHD coaches for job
Woman interviewing man with ADHD for job

Besides mapping your route to the interview location and ironing your best suit, what should adults with ADHD do to ensure that a job interview goes well? Here’s a step-by-step guide for before, during and after the interview that will have you opening new doors on your way to ADHD career success!

Preparation

Research the company. Corporate Web sites provide a wealth of information. Also, look at competitors’ sites and talk to people familiar with the industry. Look for press coverage of the company in Google News, but be careful not to let your ADHD brain get distracted online.

Set goals for the interview. Make a list of your accomplishments and abilities so they will be top of mind and you can weave them into your replies. Be subtle, but clear that your skills can translate into benefits for the hiring organization.

Prepare for problems. If you foresee problems stemming from your spotty work history or training — or lack there of — prepare for questions that bring up these issues. Be confident and comfortable with your reasons for leaving prior jobs or gaps in your industry knowledge.

Expect common questions. “Tell me about yourself.” “What are your best and worst traits?” and “What did you like best — and least — about your last job?” are all common interview questions. Be ready for them with well thought out answers.

Role play. Know your ADHD interviewing weaknesses such as avoiding eye contact or rambling. Keep these issues in mind while you practice your answers out loud, looking into a mirror, or with a partner. This way, you’ll be more confident with the tone and content of your replies in the real interview.

During the Interview: The Basics

Be early. Attention-deficit adults can have poor time management skills, so build in some extra time and even plan to arrive early. This way, you’re less likely to be late and will have time to collect yourself before the interview.

Be positive. While everyone benefits from a positive outlook, adults with ADHD need to be especially conscious of putting an end to negative thoughts. This can be done through positive self-talk meditation or visualization prior to sitting down in the meeting.

Remember to make a great first impression by not knocking your former employer, co-workers, or responsibilities. You don’t want the interviewer wondering how you’ll bad mouth her company in the future.

Interview with the right attitude. Show interest and enthusiasm, even if you’re not sure the job is right for you. You’ll want to project the ability to lead others and work independently, demonstrate communication skills, and show how you can fit in with co-workers.

Listen. Many adults with ADHD can have trouble listening to what the interviewer says because they’re busy concentrating on what to say next. Watch for the interviewer’s social cues including her body language and facial expressions — valuable cues for how you’re doing.

Watch your nonverbal cues. Adults with ADHD aren’t always mindful of their own social skills. Remember to make and keep eye contact, walk and sit with a confident air, lean toward an interviewer to show interest and enthusiasm and speak with a well-modulated voice.

During the Interview: The Questions

Know the question behind the question. Ultimately, every question boils down to, “Why should we hire you?” Be sure you answer this question completely to show that not only are you qualified for the job, but that you’re the best candidate. Think of the positive aspects of your ADHD brain and use specific examples to help you make your case, “When I was with ABC Company, I creatively used my familiarity with ‘X’ to boost profit margins by 28%.”

Tell the truth. If you haven’t done something the job requires, but believe you can, say why. Be creative – and don’t lie. If someone asks if you know how to do ‘X,’ you can say, “I’m a quick learner, and I have experience doing ‘Y’ and ‘Z,’ which are similar.”(Avoid using the word ‘No’.)

Be smart about money questions. Attempt to postpone money discussions until you have a better understanding of the scope of responsibilities of the job, and they have a better idea of your abilities and qualifications.

Ask questions. Prepare questions in advance, and add others during the interview. You have the right – and obligation – to know as much as possible about the company, department, job, your manager and co-workers.

Wrap Things Up

Prepare, and use, a closing statement. Thank the interviewer and summarize why you are the most qualified candidate for the position, why you want to work for the company and why they would benefit most by hiring you. This exit speech is your last chance to say what you want and leave a good impression.

Know the next step. Clarify what the next step is as far as your candidacy.

Follow up with an effective “thank you” letter. This is another opportunity to market yourself. Find some areas discussed in the meeting and expand upon them in your letter.

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