Relationship mapping – a useful interview preparation tool for neurodivergent students

Being dyspraxic, I’ve always found my brain ‘locks’ when trying to concentrate on something important that involves any level of stress – including preparing for interviews. This has led to a few instances in my life where I’d be asked a question in an interview, and think ‘I didn’t think to prepare for that, but in hindsight it was really, really obvious that they’d ask something like that’.

However, as with many neurodivergent people, I find workarounds for challenges I come across. So for me personally, I’ve found mapping out key relationships a really useful tool for interview preparation. I’ve also found it useful for helping other people who may otherwise struggle anticipating potential interview questions. I get a notepad and pen, and go through the following prompts:

As someone who suffers from mental ‘blocks’, I’ve found mapping out key relationships a really useful tool for interview preparation for myself and others. The following prompts can help anticipate & prepare for potential questions:

1st Context – These prompts can help you with understanding an employers’ mindset, or the context they are making decisions from. Understanding this will help make the rest of the process easier and more effective.

What is the organisation’s overall aim (or, how does it make money)?

How does the role contribute to this overall aim?

2nd Relationships – who would you work with and how?

What internal & external stakeholders will there be in this role? How do they fit into what the role is trying achieve? Stakeholders are people who affect and/or affected by the organisation, e.g. colleagues, customers, suppliers etc.

What are these stakeholders trying to work towards in their own respective roles? What challenges do they face?

How does (or can) the role support them in achieving their aims (including overcoming challenges)?

What potential challenges are there to working with these stakeholders? How could any of the attributes or skills in the job specification be used to overcome these?

3rd – Questions

What potential questions could be asked from the above? For example, using the criteria in the person specification, how would you engage with a specific key stakeholder that isn’t engaging with you? How would you overcome any potential obstacles to working together? How would you help them achieve what they needed to, while also achieving what you need to?

What relevant examples are there from previous work history (or other experience) that can be used to answer these questions?

Have you identified any gaps in your knowledge? How could you plan to work on these areas of development? This can be good for answering questions about professional development or weaknesses.

Final thoughts

I’ve found that thinking of jobs in terms of relationships & fixing problems can help with preparing strong interview answers that are very specific to the role you’re interviewing for – which can help you stand out as an excellent candidate.

4 thoughts on “Relationship mapping – a useful interview preparation tool for neurodivergent students

  1. Good morning,
    I’ve been following your blog for some time now. I find it really useful and I wondered if it would be okay to share some of your posts on our social media. I think our students, graduates and employers would find them so positive and helpful.
    Many thanks,
    Andrew

    1. Hi Andrew, thanks for your message – glad you find it useful, thanks for the feedback. Yes by all means feel free to post – and if you have any other topics that you’d like covering in a blog (e.g. a specific question or challenge from a student) then please don’t hesitate to get in contact, am always on the look out for ideas that will be of benefit.

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