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Inclusion Works: Confidence Boosters for Interviews

by Darchelle M. Garner and Ajeenah Watts, Career Development Tutors, CLE Rockville

Zach at CLE Rockville - mock interviewYes, inclusion really does work! It is indeed a worthy core value, because everyone benefits – employers, communities, and CLE students! As we celebrate this month the skills and talents that workers with disabilities bring to our workplaces, we offer a brief look at how CLE students can prepare for that all-important first step toward ultimately making an impact on the work world: the job interview. We know that success in the interview can be directly linked to the interviewee’s confidence – that important feeling of “Yes, I can do it!” Here are a few tips for boosting confidence when planning for the big interview.


It has been said that “proper preparation prevents poor performance.” This is far more than a simple tongue twister. It actually makes good sense, especially when you want to feel confident in an interview. So, in preparation for your interview, be sure to:

  • Confirm the interview date, time, and location.
  • Double-check the name(s) of your interviewer(s).
  • Do your research on the company. Review the company’s website to learn more about what they do.
  • Make sure your interview outfit is clean, pressed and appropriate.
  • Hygiene matters! Get a shave and a haircut, take a shower, and brush your teeth.
  • Leave early to travel to the interview location. If the trip typically takes 20 minutes, allow 30 minutes.


Practice not only makes perfect, it boosts confidence. The more you practice, the more comfortable you are, and the more comfortable you are, the more confidence you have. So, role-play with a friend the following to help boost your interviewing confidence:

  • Respond to these interview questions: Tell me about yourself? Why do you want to work here? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • If you plan to disclose your disability in the interview, what will you say?
  • What questions do you have for the interviewer?
  • Practice a firm handshake.

Stress Relievers

Interview stress is definitely a downer, but most of us experience it at one time or another. Stress can undermine our performance, because it threatens our confidence. Effectively managing stress is essential to confidently interviewing for a job. Try these techniques:

  • Exercise: do five jumping jacks before you leave for the interview.
  • Stress ball: squeeze a stress ball for several minutes before arriving to the interview location.
  • Deep breathing: take several slow deep breaths before walking into the interview.

Be sure to eat a light snack an hour or so before the interview, so that you aren’t distracted by a growling stomach during the interview. Also, make sure to drink a bit of water just prior to arrival to the interview. This helps avoid a dry mouth, which can uncomfortably slow you down when answering interview questions. Finally, get a good night’s sleep the night before. You will awake well-rested, fresh, and confident!


Affirmations help keep your mind positive. Research shows that when we describe ourselves in positive terms, we can actually feel uplifted. Try saying aloud one or more of these affirmations before leaving for your interview. Fill in the blank: I am ____________.

  • Just right for this job
  • Smart and capable
  • Friendly and likeable
  • A winner

You can also create your own!

Power Poses

There’s been lots of buzz in recent years about the effectiveness of “power poses” in boosting personal confidence. Whether the positive effect of striking these poses is physiological or psychological almost doesn’t matter. Millions of people have discovered that they work. Before leaving for your interview, strike a pose and hold it for a full minute. Try the Superman pose with your back straight, head up, chest out and hands on hips. Or, pose like Rocky Balboa (in the “Rocky” movie series) after he scaled the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art: hands above head, fists clenched, legs apart. Feel free to add a victory yell.

As society recognizes more and more the valuable contributions to the workforce that people with disabilities can make, CLE students can embrace new job opportunities with confidence and strength, ready for interview success, and ultimately job success!

Newsletter Articles – October 2016

Follow along as Kati Strong takes us through a day as a CLE Job Coach.

National Disablility Employment Awareness Month

This month, I would like to open a discussion to our beloved CLE family about National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Observed in October, NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that celebrates the skills and diverse talents individuals with exceptionalities bring to the workplace. This is a time to rejoice in all that has been accomplished and to acknowledge how far we have come, but it is also a time to reflect on how far we still have to go. When I read the words Disability Employment Awareness Month, the two words that immediately stand out to me are Awareness and Ability. Awareness breeds understanding, and allows us the capability to see things through a new lens. This is precisely why this month is so important. It places the spotlight on the ability of our population.

CLE Denver - G with Paycheck

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average tenure of a young employee with a company is approximately 2 years. This current trend in workplace philosophy of the “grass is always greener” creates a common challenge for employers to obtain and retain reliable, long-term help. Employers are often left scrambling to hire new workers; meanwhile there is a large population of capable and willing employees that have not been fully tapped into.

Wilson at CLE Davie

Not all disabilities are visible, in fact most are not. So the question of disclosing one’s disability becomes an issue when you have a non-visible disability. This is especially true when looking to become employed. What, if anything, do I tell my employer? Our thoughts on this subject are guided by two basic principles.

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