Interviewing Tips for Youth with Disabilities

Employers conduct interviews to:

  • Learn more about your qualifications for the job.
  • Determine how well you will fit with in the organization.

Interviews are your chance to sell your skills and experience. They also give you a chance to find out if the job and company are right for you. Because interviews are such a critical part of your job search, you want to get the most out of each one. The following information is presented to help ensure that your interview is a success:

Why People Don’t Get Hired

There are many reasons why people fail to get hired:

  • Poor personal appearance
  • Application form or resume is incomplete or sloppy
  • Overly aggressive behavior
  • Lack of tact and courtesy
  • Lack of maturity
  • Lack of interest and enthusiasm
  • Nervousness or lack of confidence and poise
  • Failure to ask questions about the job
  • Responding vaguely to questions
  • No eye contact with the interviewer
  • No genuine interest in the company or job
  • Lack of planning for career; no purpose and no goals
  • Over-emphasis on money
  • Unwillingness to start at the bottom
  • Negative attitude about past employers
  • No sense of humor
  • Arriving late for the interview
  • Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time

Your Behavior and How You Communicate

Display confidence through your posture, dress, walk, energy, and eye contact. Shake hands firmly but only if a hand is offered to you first.

  • Let the interviewer start the dialogue.
  • Listen carefully.
  • Welcome all questions, even the difficult ones, with a smile.
  • Develop answers in your head before you respond. If you don’t understand a question, ask for it to be repeated or clarified. You don’t have to rush, but you don’t want to appear indecisive.
  • Give honest, direct answers.

The Attitudes That You Express

In answering and asking questions, you want to demonstrate that you are:

  • Willing to work. Give examples of your productivity on past jobs.
  • Committed to learning. Demonstrate this through examples of learning experiences (independent study, professional development, education, workshops, etc.). Your plan for future development also communicates your commitment to learning.
  • Flexible. Talk about how well you work with others and how you can adjust and fit into a new environment without complaints or special requests.
  • Willing to contribute. Emphasize what you can do for the company.

How To End the Interview

A professional positive end to the interview is another way to ensure your success. Now is the time to remind the employer of why you are qualified for the job. Restate any strengths and experiences that you might not have emphasized earlier. Mention a particular accomplishment or activity that fits the job.

The end of the interview is also the time to let the employer know if you are interested in the job:

  • If you want the job, say so!
  • Ask when the position will be filled.
  • Find out if there will be additional interviews and when the employer plans to make a decision.
  • Indicate a time when you may contact the employer to learn of the decision.
  • Finally, be courteous and end the interview on time.

Following Up After the Interview

The steps that you take after the interview are important too. For example, take time to:

  • Evaluate the interview. What went well in the interview? How can you improve?
  • Record your follow-up plans. Write the date and time for your next contact with the employer so you do not forget to follow through.
  • Send thank-you letters or notes to each person with whom you interviewed. For more information on thank-you letters and notes.

By Koseanne Lidle Bensley, Placement and Career Services, New Mexico State University