ADHD at Work

Nail Your Job Interview: 3 Strategies for Neurodivergent Applicants

Here, a career coach explains how to highlight skills, accentuate accomplishments, and engage interviewers with your unique story.

Few job seekers relish the interview process. There is nothing comfortable about opening up to hiring managers who are effectively sizing you up, and this may be especially true for neurodivergent workers who feel uneasy with one-on-one communication. So how can you help your interviewer understand the value you would bring to the job without rambling or succumbing to anxiety?

Here are three novel strategies to help applicants with ADHD nail any job interview:

Job Interview Strategies

Connect with stories.

When you’re asked, “Tell me about yourself,” engage the interviewer with a story about how the trends in your life relate to your career. For example, you might say, “I am a voracious reader. I love to learn, whether it’s about volcanoes in Hawaii or economic liabilities in Spain. This has served me well in work because I learn new things quickly, thanks to my insatiable curiosity.” Other areas of focus could include your lifelong commitment to community service and how that is reflected in your service leadership, or how being well-traveled has given you a unique perspective of different cultures in multinational organizations.

[Read: Great Job! A Career Happiness Formula for Adults with ADHD]

Even the answer to, “Walk me through your résumé,” can be told in a story, focusing on why you moved to a job, what skills you gained from that job, and how you moved to the next job. For example, “I started my career at Company A as a copywriter, where I honed my skills of informative writing and learned how to turn complex concepts into simplified narratives. After three years, I wanted to move into the tech space. A former colleague who moved to Company B recommended me for a more senior position. There, I was able to expand my scope to video scripts, emails, case studies, social media, and sales collateral. I’m talking with you because I’ve always been a fan of [name of company] and I am interested in moving into a leadership role. I was intrigued when you reached out about/posted a job that would allow me to manage and lead a team.”

Showcase Skills with CARL.

Highlight your skills and show how they can transfer from one job to another. Write down five accomplishments that are relevant to the new job using the CARL method, which stands for:

  • Context: What was the business issue?
  • Action: What action did you take and how did you align stakeholders?
  • Result: What was the result of your action?
  • Learning: What did you learn? What went perfectly and what would you do better next time?

[Read: 16 Good Jobs for People with ADHD]

Consider writing stories about solving a problem, aligning stakeholders, influencing someone to think differently, working with difficult personalities, and helping other employees.

Get a Confidence Boost by Rehearsing.

Interviewers’ attention spans are short; therefore, keep all stories under two minutes. Practicing out loud will help you feel confident that you can answer questions succinctly while conveying how you will bring value to the company.

Job Interview Strategies: Next Steps

Marlo Lyons is a certified career coach and strategist and the award-winning author of Wanted—A New Career: The Definitive Playbook for Transitioning to a New Career or Finding Your Dream Job.

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