Your life experiences make up who you are. You are a whole person with skills and abilities, education, work experience and community involvement, regardless of a disability. You have value. Let this knowledge define you during your job search.
And if you need an extra bit of confidence, I’ve listed some things you can do before and during an interview to give you an advantage over the competition.
Pay attention to your clothes. If you take a couple of days before the interview to think about what you will wear, you can try clothes on, ask for opinions from others, polish your shoes, etc. “Skypers” need to test their equipment and check their background environment to make sure it is not too “busy” in appearance. Bottom line: You want to look like a person who cares about getting the job.
Review the job description. Review the kinds of technology, software and overall techniques being used today in your industry. Are there any promising trends? How is it different or similar to past experiences? Review the company’s job description. Note examples of past work or volunteerism that you can use to illustrate your ability to fulfill each requirement of the job.
Research the company. Find out the origin of the company, where they are located, products and/or services, mission/vision. Formulate some questions that you can use when you are asked, “do you have any questions?” Saying that you have no questions or “not right now” should never happen nor is it appropriate to ask about pay or vacation time during the first interview. Prepare a question or two based on your research that goes past “how many employees do you have?” Show that you have a deeper knowledge of their company through the questions you prepare to ask them during the interview.
Take note of interviewers name(s) and contact information. Have a “thank you” card ready to handwrite (if possible) that addresses the interviewer and cites a memorable comment or point they made (showing you were listening). Thank them for their time and efforts in reviewing your application materials for the position. Mail the “thank you” note on the day you interview.
Prepare ahead for questions. I am often told, “I know how to interview already” or, “I do really well answering questions.” Successful interviews are the result of forethought, research and practice. When you go into an interview unprepared, you run the risk of raising “red flags” for an interviewer, such as discussing your personal life or past work experiences (in a light that is less than flattering). Further, you run the risk of giving overly long answers because you are anxious and seeking to satisfy the question. You must practice knowing when to stop answering each question and waiting for the next question.
Another common occurrence is that people avoid thinking about what their answers would be to what they deem to be “obvious” questions. These questions, however, are the ones that produce the highest level of anxiety. They tend to be more personal in nature. Here is a list of a few that could be asked that you need to know how to answer in order to have a good interview.
1. Tell me a little about yourself.
This is not an invitation to talk about your hobbies, your pets, where you live or ANYTHING personal. This is your opportunity to describe yourself in the context of the position you are interviewing for.
2. What are your strengths?
State your strength and tie it into what the position requires and how that strength will benefit the company in that role. Avoid “perfectionism” or “attentive to detail” as they are overused by job seekers.
3. What are your weaknesses?
State a weakness and the solution that you have implemented to address this weakness. If you can further frame your answer in the context of the job or suggesting a solution involving the team, all the better!
4. Tell about a time when you had a conflict with your supervisor.
Do not choose your most emotionally charged example. Pick something moderate, perhaps a conflict over the schedule that you can briefly describe to include how you resolved the conflict.
5. Why did you leave your last job?
This is a tricky one. The answer depends on a lot of variables. If you left because of a disability, you can say that you had a disabling life experience that required you to leave the workforce of which you have since recovered and are now ready to go back to work (and then STOP). You may have left work due to the economy. Be brief and positive. Do not make apologies for who you are and what has happened to you. You are stating the facts.