Just because you have ADHD, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great interview!
Interviewing is difficult for even the most focused job applicants, but when you're struggling with ADHD while job interviewing, it can seem impossible. Studies show that about 4 percent of the adult population battles this disorder daily. Symptoms often include trouble staying focused or organized, fidgeting, and forgetfulness. To a job interviewer, these behaviors may come across as uninterested or unprofessional, even though it's not the case at all.
Life can be difficult with ADHD, and it's common to want to share about your diagnosis with those around you and to help them understand better. But is the best time to reveal this in an interview? How do you stay focused without telling? When should you tell your employer? Read below for tips on how to prepare for and ace your interview while struggling with ADHD, plus when you should reveal your disorder to your potential employer.
When should you reveal you have ADHD?
ADHD is a medical condition and should be treated as such. Employers cannot legally discriminate against you because you have ADHD, but to make certain it's not an issue, you shouldn't reveal you have it or if you need accommodations until after you have the job. Since there is no way to prove if you're being discriminated against so early in the job process, waiting until after the job offer ensures you have documentation and less risk of discrimination. It also helps employers to see you for you — not your disorder.
Preparing for an interview when you have ADHD
Preparing for a job interview takes a lot of steps — and more so when you have ADHD. Since forgetfulness is a symptom of the disorder, researching a company and job can seem frustrating and difficult. Many people take a portfolio into a job interview and take notes during, so feel free to do this! To help you remember important aspects of the company, your achievements, and your strengths, make small notes on your notepad. Don't spend the interview looking at your paper, however. Instead, you should have a one-to-two word reminder listed and then mark it off, using this small reminder to trigger your memory.
Also, practice interviewing with a friend or family member. Make sure you have a lot of eye contact, strengthen your answers by writing them out and saying them until you feel confident, and do your best to not fidget.
If you take medication to manage your ADHD, you'll want to make sure you've had it before your interview. If you don't, caffeine can have the same effect, so try a soda, coffee, or tea beforehand to help calm your mind.
Highlight the strengths of ADHD
ADHD has many strengths, and you can absolutely use these in a job interview — without revealing too much too soon — and future employment. For example, hyperfocus is a very real and valuable aspect of ADHD. To highlight this in an interview, you should tell potential employers you have the ability to channel your focus on the task at hand and get work completed quickly and efficiently. You give 100 percent, if not more.
Most people with ADHD have an abundance of energy and this can be leveraged to execute your tasks and assignments quickly. Use this energy in your interview to show your glowing personality and contagious nature.
People with ADHD also tend to have a creative outlet. Creativity can spark improvements in an office, operations, or various other aspects of a job. Depending on what your job title is, highlight your creative nature and how you would use it at work.
Keep your answers short and simple
You can find lists of common job interview questions here. Searching for common questions and writing out your answers and practicing them will help you to strengthen and shorten your answers. You want to share the highlights of your accomplishments and achievements without a lot of backstory, unless asked.
Ensure you stay on topic for each question asked and answer only that question. Practicing as recommended above will help you learn and get better at this.
Tips for staying focused
Before your interview, pump yourself up and prepare. To stay focused during and reduce fidgeting, don't have a pen with you that clicks, keep any noisemakers in your car, silence your cell phone, and assess your environment before the interview so you aren't distracted by the things around you.
If you're faced with a question you are thrown with or have trouble answering, feel free to ask to come back to that question or for a moment to think on the answer. This will give you time to gather your thoughts and come up with an acceptable answer.
If you take a notepad or portfolio with you, make a note across the top to remind you to focus. Anytime you glance at your paper, you will be reminded to stay on task. In the days before your interview, make sure you get adequate sleep, practice each day, and prepare the best you can.
Most of all, don't reveal you have ADHD until after you have a job, along with preparation, practice, keeping distractions to a minimum, and highlighting the strengths of ADHD (without revealing you disorder) in each question you can. With a little preparation and a lot of practice, you'll be able to ace your interview and secure your dream job just like everyone else!
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