Office Hours: 5 Job Interview Tips for Neurodivergent Professionals

Career, Office Hours Q&A
Veronica Yao

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by Veronica Yao

Did you catch the first Office Hours Virtual Q&A? Here’s the official recap.

We were joined by interview coach Michelle Marie of Aequitas Coaching, who helped us shine a spotlight on job interviewing – perhaps one of the most unpleasant requirements of being a neurodivergent professional. In our online Q&A, we answered both pre-submitted and live questions about how to approach these interactions and overcome discomfort and nerves.

Watch the full Q&A recording here, or read on for the top takeaways of this Office Hours session:

1. Evaluate your preconceived notions about interviewing.

Often, people approach interviewing the same way they would approach an exam. They use practice questions to rehearse their answers, and hope that they don’t encounter a curveball! This method is far too rigid, and limits your flexibility when it comes to answering the interviewer’s prompts.

Instead, approach the interview like a conversation. Imagine having a conversation with an authority figure you feel comfortable with, like a teacher or a mentor. It’s not about giving the most impressive answer – it’s about having an enjoyable exchange where both interviewer and interviewee can get to know one another. Which brings us to our next point…

2. Don’t get hung up on having the “right answer”.

We don’t know what the interviewer’s expectations are going to be, so let’s not even go down that path. Instead, we’re going to focus on giving an answer that effectively conveys the message you want to send them.

Remember, interviews are a conversation, which means the onus isn’t just on you as the interviewee to carry the interaction. The interviewer should be doing the work as well, asking you follow up questions and contributing their thoughts. Focus on giving a clear and concise answer – if they want to know more about something, they’ll ask you!

3. Interviewing is all about knowing your professional self.

Imagine a stranger approached you and asked you to tell them about your most special interest. Well, despite being put on the spot, you would have no problem rattling off everything you knew about the subject.

When it comes to interviewing, your goal is to get to know your professional self, your strengths and weaknesses, and analyze your experiences to the point where you are able to speak to the subject as easily as a special interest. This is the best way to prepare, because then you will be equipped to answer any question with confidence.

4. Consider if or when you will disclose your neurodivergent identity.

This is a bit of a loaded topic. People usually ask about when they should disclose because they want to know if disclosing during the interview process would lower their chances of landing the job. Disclosing does increase the likelihood that an employer will be biased towards you, lowering your chances of getting the job. Of course, the benefit to disclosing during the interview process is that if you’re hired, you can be fairly certain that your employer will be supportive of your needs as a neurodivergent professional.

With that said, if you don’t have the luxury of disclosing early and you’re looking to improve your chances of landing the job, our recommendation is to not disclose until after you are hired. This is not deceitful – you will still be honest and upfront about your strengths and challenges, just without labelling it. Once you are hired, if you feel safe to do so, you may let your management team/HR know of any accommodations you may need.

5. Don’t be afraid to request accommodations (or bring your own!)

Did you know that you are permitted as a neurodivergent professional to request accommodations for your interview? Here are a few examples of accommodations you can request or bring on your own.

  • Request a copy of the interview questions in advance or upon arrival so you can reference them during the interview.
  • Bring a notebook and take notes during the interview.
  • Request a quiet room without harsh lighting for the interview to be conducted in.
  • Bring a copy of your own resume to reference.
  • Bring a quiet fidget toy or tool to occupy your hands.
  • Request a time limit to the interview (i.e. 30 minutes max)

Stay tuned for our next Office Hours Virtual Q&A!

Are you neurodivergent and burnt out at work?

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