From practicing mindfulness to avoiding stimulants, here are the 14 answers to the question, “What are the most helpful job interview tips for a person with ADHD?”
- Apply Mindfulness Principles
- Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare
- Have Your Talking Points Ready
- Bring a Focus Item
- Practice in a Similar Space
- Use a Timer
- Consider Opening Up Ahead of Time That You Have ADHD
- Research Likely Interview Questions
- Create a Physical Checklist
- Take a Pause
- Highlight Your Strengths
- Hone Active Listening Skills
- Pay Attention to Your Body Language
- Avoid Stimulants
Apply Mindfulness Principles
I’d advise practicing mindfulness before the interview. It can help reduce anxiety and stress, which are common symptoms of ADHD. It can also help focus your attention on the present moment and allow you to respond more effectively to the interviewer’s questions.
Try meditating for five minutes in a quiet place to practice mindfulness before an interview. Focus on your breathing, and notice how it feels to inhale and exhale. It will help calm your mind and reduce stress.
Not to mention preparing for the interview is most important. Practice answering common interview questions, learn more about the position and the company, and take time to review your resume.
These things will help you feel more confident and prepared for the interview, which will make you feel more at ease.
Shaun Connell, Founder, Writing Tips Institute
Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare
You are not alone. An estimated 4.4% of the adult population has been diagnosed with ADHD in the U.S.
Don’t overthink it, be prepared. Research the company you are interviewing with, review the job description, draft questions to ask at the end of the interview; and jot down key names of interviewers. Most importantly, remember to take long, deep breaths to relax.
Answer only the question asked, and don’t be afraid of any pauses in between questions.
Preparation may also include downloading directions and even driving to the destination in advance to know the parking situation, traffic patterns, what the building looks like, and the general area.
Make sure you have enough gas in your car or have arranged and confirmed reliable transportation. Have everything you need for the day’s interview prepped and ready the night before to avoid feeling anxious or reduce the chance of you forgetting something critical?
Channel your hyper-focus superpower, and make it work for you!
Nikki Steel, Talent Acquisition & Human Resources Manager, Prager Metis CPAs
Have Your Talking Points Ready
I know firsthand that it’s hard to stay focused during a job interview. As it’s not an excuse but a chance to stay on top of your game. The game starts before the interview to do your research and have your talking points ready with questions to ask in a job interview so that you stay focused and clear.
You can practice your interviewing skills by role-playing with a friend or family member to increase your batting average. During the interview, I like to take deep breaths and have water handy to give myself a reason to take breaks.
When I get nervous or distracted, I can ramble and give way too much information on a topic that might not be necessary. Overall, just get your mind in the zone and be ready to swing when you get to the plate!
Brian Hawkins, Marketing Manager, GhostBed.com
Bring a Focus Item
I once interviewed someone that brought to the interview a small device that was no larger than a car key fob. Throughout the interview, I could see him playing with it in his hand as he moved his fingers across it while answering questions and commenting on topics during the interview.
He was great during the interview and we ended up hiring him, but as he was leaving, I asked him about the item in his hand as I had never seen something like it before. He explained that he had severe ADHD and that the item helped him focus. It was a small box with pushable buttons, rotating wheels, and other interactive sections. He let me know that when his fingers are distracted by the box, he can focus better on answering questions.
It worked, as his interview went well. He let me know that it’s common for people with ADHD to bring those types of items and unconsciously play with them during meetings or interviews. The item he brought was a “fidget box” and it helped him focus.
Seth Newman, Director, SportingSmiles
Practice in a Similar Space
If you have ADD, it’s helpful to practice for job interviews in a space that is familiar to you. That way, you can become comfortable with the environment and reduce distractions.
If possible, practice in the space where you will have the interview or try to find a similar space that is comfortable and familiar to you. If you can do a trial run of the interview in this space, it can help you feel more secure and focused during the actual interview.
Kate Duske, Editor-in-Chief, Escape Room Data
Use a Timer
Having a timer on-hand for an interview is a helpful interview tip for candidates with ADHD. This trick will help them stay conscious of how much time they are taking to answer each question and prevent them from veering off-topic.
This can also be beneficial for people who are not diagnosed with ADHD, as it can help them stay focused on the question and answer it in a timely manner. Having a timer can help the candidate feel more in control of the interview and less anxious.
Michael Alexis, CEO, Tiny Campfire
Consider Opening Up Ahead of Time That You Have ADHD
ADHD is more common than people think, so the first thing candidates should remember is that they’re not alone. Hiring managers have seen nearly everything before.
That’s why my advice has changed in the last few years; I now encourage applicants to be open and honest about neurodivergence.
But don’t offer it up as an excuse. Focus on the positive aspects of the condition: your ability to single-mindedly commit yourself to a task can be a benefit, especially in the tech sector. Some of the best programmers I’ve ever placed have had ADHD.
Companies are looking to diversify, but it’s up to you to explain exactly how your strengths will benefit the team.
Rob Reeves, CEO & President, Redfish Technology
Research Likely Interview Questions
One interview tip for applicants with ADHD is to search online for sample interview questions for that specific company or role to practice with. Often, you can find sample interview questions for the organization on Glassdoor, for example.
This will help the applicant to be better prepared for the interview and to practice their responses to the questions they may ask them. It is also important to practice the answers out loud and to record the responses to review and improve upon.
By doing this, the applicant will be more confident and better able to answer the questions during the interview. Additionally, it is important to practice calming techniques, such as deep breathing and positive self-talk, to help reduce anxiety and to remain focused during the interview.
Grace He, People & Culture Director, TeamBuilding
Create a Physical Checklist
Preparing a physical checklist before a job interview can help you feel more organized and confident and help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. These increase your chances for success, especially if you experience concentration problems and often feel confused.
Thus, on your list, include information about your strengths and weaknesses, previous work achievements, experience, and skills. Remember specific examples and real-life situations. Use numbers if you can. List some reasons they should hire you specifically and prove how valuable an asset you might be. Use bullets and keywords as your signposts, making a list easy to scan.
Your checklist serves as a map, keeping you on track and guiding you through subjects that can be addressed. Its function is to comfort you and give you a sense of security by allowing you to occupy your hands with something when you feel stressed. So, don’t forget to bring a physical checklist with you.
Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Live Career
Take a Pause
During an interview, your mind can start going in all different directions, especially after a question is asked that you haven’t planned for. It may tempt those with ADHD to answer quickly before their attention drifts.
Instead, tell yourself to take a pause and an intentional breath. Then, answer the question the best you can. Chances are when you allow yourself to respond to the question rather than react, a better answer will come your way.
Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed
Highlight Your Strengths
Just because you have ADHD doesn’t mean you can’t have a great interview! Don’t focus on the side effects of your condition. Highlight and celebrate your strengths instead.
ADHD is a part of your identity, so you cannot separate it from your professional life. As a neurodivergent person, you perceive the world differently. During the interview, point out that you are a divergent thinker who can string together connections quickly and notice things that others cannot see.
What’s more, ADHD individuals often are creative, inventive, and able to hyper-focus. And the list goes on. Reflect on what you do great, thanks to your condition. Consider which of the strengths may be useful in the job you are applying for and ensure to name them at the interview.
Agata Szczepanek, Community Manager, LiveCareer
Hone Active Listening Skills
Honing one’s active listening skills before an interview is one best practice. Active listening means giving one’s undivided attention to the interviewer, which can be a struggle for individuals with ADHD, but not impossible.
Listen to sample interviews online to practice and create a mental map of how the interview may go based on what is said. That will create a sense of familiarity with the interview environment and allow more focus on actively listening to the interviewer, instead of having the environment itself be a distraction too.
Annu Daniel, CEO, Elohim Company
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
People with ADHD are often unaware of their own social skills shortcomings. If you have ADHD and are going to a job interview, it may be helpful to think of the interview as a conversation.
In a conversation, it’s not really what you say that matters—it’s how you say it. Think about your body language. Try to make eye contact, appear relaxed and comfortable, and maintain a good posture.
Your interviewer is also going to be looking for signs of confidence in your answers. So make sure that when talking about your work experience or skills, for example, your tone is confident and clear. Your gestures should be purposeful and focused on the interviewer.
Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP, Strategy & Growth, Resume Worded
Sugar and caffeine are fiendishly wicked for calming down before an interview, especially for anyone with ADHD. You’re likely already nervous, which can be an entire ordeal within itself, so adding anything that might add to more jittery behavior won’t help you at all.
Try to avoid sugary or highly caffeinated drinks before an interview. Your calming cup of tea, for example, might be better off as a cup of de-cafe in this kind of situation.
Obviously, there is going to be more to nailing your interview than just what you eat or drink, but this small step can give you a bit of extra help in keeping your focus and avoiding unwanted unconscious behaviors like fidgeting or being unable to hold eye contact. Every bit helps when you’re trying to land that interview.
Max Ade, CEO, Pickleheads