Tips and Tricks to Ace Your Job Interview
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Tips and Tricks to Ace Your Job Interview

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

By Jacky Cohen, Academic and Community Liaison

Erick's art projectAdults with disabilities are among the most unemployed and underemployed segments of our society. Many employers grasp onto old fashioned ideas and stereotypes including the potentially high cost of accommodations and health care. They also believe that individuals with disabilities do not posses the knowledge, skills, or abilities to perform as well as their non-disabled peers and are far less reliable or responsible. These myths are just that: myths. In fact, people with disabilities have proven to be valued employees who contribute positively to their work environments given the appropriate supports. Unfortunately, they don’t always make it past the interview process or get an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and talents. Below are some tips and tricks for individuals with disabilities navigating the unfamiliar waters of the interview process.

Before – Prepare, Prepare, and don’t forget to Prepare!

  • Look over possible interview questions and jot down how you might respond.
  • Look up information about the store/business you are interviewing with (this shows you have “done your homework” and care about the employer).
  • Prepare one or two questions to ask the interviewer at the end of your interview (this shows that you are interested in the job).
  • Review your resume and be prepared to answer questions. (If you can’t remember a detail that is listed on your resume, review it with parents/teachers. You don’t want to seem uneducated about your own resume).
  • Know where you are going (including address and phone number) and plan to arrive 15 minutes early.
  • Prepare professional clothes for the interview (or buy an outfit if you need new clothes). If you are not sure what clothes are appropriate for an interview, ask someone who can help you decide what to wear/buy.
  • Prepare a self-disclosure statement – that means a short sentence or two about your disability if you feel comfortable doing so. This can help set up the foundation for support with your future employer.
  • When setting up an interview, suggest a working interview – this means trying out tasks that you would be expected to do as part of your job, sort of like an audition.

During –

    racetrack

  • Shake your interviewer’s hand and offer a greeting (example “Hi, how are you?”).
  • Start with small talk but keep it brief (one or two sentences).
  • Check in with your eyes (make eye contact but don’t stare).
  • SMILE! Show that you have a shining personality and a positive attitude.
  • Take notes so that you don’t forget important information.
  • Listen to each question and answer by staying on topic.
  • Ask questions! If you don’t understand something, it’s ok to ask for clarification. You can ask the interviewer to “say it a different way” or give you an example.
  • DON’T ask how much you will get paid, how many breaks you get, or how many vacation days or days off you get. This makes you seem like you are not a hard worker and only care about the money and time off.
  • Speak clearly and take time to think about your answers, there is no rush.
  • Give examples when possible to illustrate your strengths, skills and talents.
  • Avoid filler words like “um” and “like” as much as possible.
  • If you don’t have a very dynamic personality and don’t show your excitement easily, let your interviewer know with your words that you are excited and optimistic. For example, “I don’t always show my excitement but I do feel really great about this job and know that I would be a great addition here.”
  • Thank the interviewer for his/her time and make a statement that shows appreciation and excitement for the job.

After –

  • Send a thank you note (card or email) because it shows that you are appreciative and polite.
  • Follow up with a phone call or email if you haven’t heard anything from the employer for over a week.
  • Think about possible accommodations you might need on the job and make a list.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
– Seneca

This sentiment holds true for most situations, but is never more apparent than in the interviewing process. With these simple tips, adults with disabilities can begin to show the world their amazing value, skills, and knowledge.

The post Tips and Tricks to Ace Your Job Interview appeared first on College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future.