Approaching a job interview with ADHD can be a challenging proposition. Most people in general dread the thought of a job interview. More people would most likely rather go to the dentist than have to endure an interview. For this reason, many people remain in dead-end jobs for years. They put up with terrible bosses or awful work conditions all because they can’t get past the job interview stage.
Interviewing for a new job is difficult. It can present even more challenges for an adult with ADHD. Many adults with ADHD have trouble picking up on social cues and following discussions well. Both of these traits can play significant roles in how well you do on an interview. Additionally, many adults with ADHD struggle with social interactions in general. It doesn’t help then that of all social interactions, interviewing for a job can be both the most awkward and the most stressful.
If you have ADHD, you might find yourself looking for a new job for any number of reasons. Perhaps, you find yourself struggling with your boss, or you really want to pursue a dream job that fits your ADHD mind or even just an ADHD friendly job. Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t let fear of an interview stand in your way.
While interviewing might never become easy for you, you can nevertheless get better at different facets of the interview process. In this article, we break down what it means to nail a job interview with ADHD. We take you through the different stages of the interview process: before, during, and after an interview, to show you exactly what you need in each stage to really catch the interest of a potential employer.
Before your Job Interview with ADHD
In looking at tackling a job interview with ADHD, we really need to start before you even go to the interview. Much of how well you do in front of a hiring manager depends on what preparation you do before the interview begins. In this first stage, we break out the essential parts of preparing well for an interview.
Do Your Research on the Company
One of the biggest errors of many job candidates is that they don’t know anything about the company or position. To make sure that your job interview with ADHD goes well, you need to study up on who you might work for. Remember that an interview goes both ways. Sure, the company interviews you to see if you fit well, but you need to interview the company, as well. To do this, you really need to know your stuff.
Make sure you read over the job description multiple times. Pull out key words that the company highlights and bring up those key words in your interview. You want the company to know that you fit what they need.
In addition to knowing the job, you need to know the company. Do some research on who you might eventually work for. Some things to look into might include how they got started, what types of businesses do they interact with, and what are the company’s future objectives. Make sure you convey that you fit well with the company dynamics and culture overall, and express this in your interview.
Research Interview Questions
Before going into your job interview with ADHD, make sure you also look into possible or common interview questions. Many people with ADHD struggle with organizing their thoughts on the spot. As a result, the more you can plan and organize beforehand, the better off you will be.
Look online and research specific interview questions for the industry that you apply for. Know your work history frontwards and backwards and how your skills fit into what the company wants. You can bet they will ask you for those things. You can also almost guarantee they will ask you about your future goals, so be sure to write out or think about an answer beforehand.
If the job works on a team, think about team dynamic questions. Prepare for questions about how well you work on a team. Think about your strengths and weaknesses.
Put together a plan on how you would answers questions about your past failures. Make sure you have answers, and you just don’t brush these questions off. Companies don’t expect you to be perfect. Rather, they want to see how you respond to difficulty or failure.
Set Goals for Yourself
We all know that your ultimate goal in any job interview with ADHD is actually getting the job. The problem, though, with that being your only goal is that you oftentimes don’t know if you got the job until much later. To help improve your interviewing skills after each interview, make sure you set smaller measurable goals for yourself.
You need to look at interviewing as a skill that you can always work to improve. You can only improve after interviews if you have ways to measure how you did. For this purpose, you really need to set small goals. These goals can be simple or complex, depending on what you want to work on. For instance, one goal might be to remember to smile as you answer questions or make eye contact when talking or listening to the interviewer.
Other goals could include not stammering or using filler words such as “um.” Small goals like this give you something concrete and immediate to aim for. As soon as you leave your interview then you can go back through your goals and note which ones you met. For the ones that you still struggled with, you can then make a game plan for practicing them more before the next interview.
Practice Makes Perfect
Speaking of practicing, that happens to be the next tip for nailing a job interview with ADHD. We all know that practice makes perfect. You’ve heard that old adage probably a thousand times. We all have. Part of the reason that everyone says it, though, is that it really is true. One of the best ways to get better at doing something is simply to practice it as much as you can.
To nail a job interview with ADHD, you need to practice it just as you would any other skill. The best way to practice an interview is actually having one. In lieu of that, though, you can set up a mock interview at home. The best situation would be to have a friend of a friend that you don’t know come and pretend to be the interviewing manager. You would have the person read the job description and about the company and then ask you interview questions just as if you were on the actual interview.
This works best when you don’t know the interviewing person as it creates a more realistic environment to an interview setting. If you can’t get a friend of a friend, though, you can have anyone you know practice interview questions with you. Have them ask about your strengths and weaknesses. Have them drill you about your past work experience until you have it down pat.
The most important things to practice should include tricky or difficult questions. For instance, if you ever left a job under less than desirable circumstances, you really need to practice how you will respond to a question about that. Similarly, practice answering questions about gaps in employment or how you would address any potential concerns employees might see in your resume.
During your Job Interview with ADHD
The second stage of the interview process is the interview itself. Now that you have prepared well, you need to make sure that you follow through. To really hit your job interview with ADHD out of the park, you need to focus in on the short time that you have in front of the hiring committee. In this section, we look at the things that can set you apart when you’re sitting across from a potential future boss.
Early is On Time
Timing is crucial whenever you want to make a good first impression. This truth applies to many circumstances in life including first dates, meeting your significant other’s parents, and, of course, interviews. For achieving a great first impression in a job interview with ADHD, you need to arrive early. The best way to think about this is that if your interview is at 1 pm and you arrive at 1 pm then you have arrived late.
For interviews, you want to show that you can meet deadlines and that you respect other people’s time. To best showcase this, you need to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. This way you can make certain that you have enough time to park, find out where you need to be, and use the bathroom if you need to. Arriving just a little early allows you time to gather yourself so you don’t feel rushed. It also lets your interviewer know you’re courteous and punctual.
One caveat to arriving early to keep in mind, though, is that arriving too early can be just as bad as arriving too late. Showing up more than 20 minutes before an interview can come off as desperate. Furthermore, it can create an awkward situation where the interviewer might feel unprepared on what to do with you for more than 20 minutes. Don’t put your potential boss in an awkward position. Arrive early but not too early as to make things weird or awkward for anyone.
Listen: nobody likes a Debbie downer. Interviews present chances to show off your charm and positively. Maybe you’re not having the best morning, and maybe you just had a terrible time fighting traffic. Whatever happened or no matter how you feel, though, you need to put on your positive charm before starting the interview.
Positivity impacts yourself and others. Maybe you start off with a bad attitude, but the more you convey a positive outlook, the more you and others will start actually feeling positive. For you to have any success in your job interview with ADHD, you need the interviewer to feel positive.
If you convey negative emotions, the interviewer will feel those emotions and start having negative feelings towards how you would fit into their organization. You don’t have to pretend like everything is ok. Still, that doesn’t mean you have to carry a negative spirit. Learn from others who have taught themselves to be positive no matter their circumstances. You might be surprised to find that many of those positive people find quite a bit of success in life and in jobs.
Nothing turns a potential employer off more than being lied to. Whatever you do in your job interview with ADHD, make sure that you tell the truth. If you’re asked a hard question and can’t think of a real answer on the spot, ask for more time. Whatever you do, though, don’t make up something that you think they want to hear.
The funny thing about lies is that they usually will get found out. The more times you lie in an interview, the greater chance that you will forget what you have lied about yourself and get tripped up. If you lie and get caught, you can be certain that your chances of getting the job are finished.
As a better alternative to lying, if you can’t think of a specific example, say so and ask if you can maybe come back to a question. Interviewers understand that you might feel nervous. They want to act sympathetic and will be very understanding as long as you tell the truth.
To really ace a job interview with ADHD, you really need to know how to sell yourself. Many times people think they need to act overly modest about their achievements. While no one likes a braggart, at the same time, if there ever was a place to show off, it would be in an interview. You don’t want to come across as egotistical so be careful how enthusiastic you act. At the same time, you need to convince the interviewer that you can do the job better than anyone.
Everything you say you need to relate back to the job at hand. All your experience and past jobs and what you have done, you need to tie those things to the job you interview for. If you don’t make the connections neither will the interviewer.
Many people with ADHD tend to think of themselves as failures. Fight these feelings if you have them. At the end of the day, you got the call for this interview for a reason. The reason they called you was because they believe in something in your story and resume. You have what it takes to do the job. Now, sell yourself and convince the company that they should invest in you.
Ask Thoughtful Questions
To close your job interview with ADHD, you need to ask thoughtful questions. When thinking of an interview you really should think of it more as a conversation. As we have mentioned already, the company you interview with wants to see your interest in them as much as they want to see if you might fit well. Part of showing your interest lies in the type of questions that you ask at the end of your interview.
Almost every interview ends with an opportunity for the interviewee to ask something. You should always make use of this opportunity. You need to write out two to three questions before the interview that get down to what the position might really look like for you.
Good questions to ask might include what a typical day in the position would look like or what characteristics does the interviewer think might fight well in that working environment. If nothing else, you should always ask what the next steps are and when you should hear back.
After your Job Interview with ADHD
The final stage of the interview process occurs after you leave the interview itself. For many of us, we are just glad to have it over when we leave an interview. Thinking that that’s the end of it, though, can leave a good interview performance going nowhere. Read on for tips on what to do after your job interview with ADHD ends.
Say Thank You
First, as soon as your job interview ends and before you leave the building, you need to say thank you. You need to acknowledge the time and effort of the interviewers and genuinely thank them for their time. This matters because it shows that you can express empathy and gratitude.
For many with ADHD, empathy and recognizing the feelings of others doesn’t come naturally. As a result, you really need to work at acknowledging how others feel. One simple and easy way to do this is with a quick thank you. This simple gesture really goes a long way and makes a big difference in whether or not you move forward in the interview process.
Follow Up with an Email or Note
Not only do you need to say thank you right after the interview, you also should follow up with a thank you card or email. Success with a job interview with ADHD depends on really conveying your continued interest. A potential employer really needs to know that you want the job you interview for. They also want to see that you appreciate both them and the company.
The best way to show that you genuinely care and have interest in continuing is to wait a day or two and to then send a personalized email or note thanking the interviewers for their consideration. For many people with ADHD, remembering small tasks like this can present challenges. To make sure you don’t forget the follow up, set a reminder on your phone or email.
Don’t send the note the same day, but wait to send it. Sending it a few days later can show the interviewer that you can remember to follow up on things and that you still want to continue after a few days’ time.
Don’t Give Up on Yourself
The final step in what to do after your job interview with ADHD is to remember to not give up on yourself. You need to remind yourself that interviews can be hard. Also, not every job or company will be the right fit. Ultimately, your self-worth and value don’t depend on whether or not you get a call back from a company.
Most everybody has to interview over and over until they get any good at it. Not only that, few people if any get the first job they interview for. Just because an interview goes poorly, or even goes well but you never hear back, doesn’t mean you need to stop searching for your dream job.
The right job and the right company exists somewhere out there for you. After your interview ends, remind yourself not to give up. Stay positive. Remind yourself of the many successful celebrities with ADHD.
You, too, can and will succeed. Don’t give up. The right opportunity might be just around the corner.