Interview suggestions for people who stammer

It’s likely you would have spoken to at least one student in the last few months who has a stammer, but you might not necessarily have realised. This is because there are those who are fine talking in a 1-2-1 situation but struggle in settings like panel interviews or group exercises. Stammering can also worsen when there is an expectation of maintaining eye contact or when someone is having to introduce themselves.  

For people who stammer there are a variety of adjustments that are helpful to know about for interview situations.

3-step approach:

  1. If you have decided to let the employer know you are someone who stammers, make them aware of this at least a few days before the interview
  2. Think about what might help you to perform at your best during the interview. It might be there are certain things you want the employer to be aware of so that you feel more confident and comfortable on the day
  3. Be willing to consider the changes that the employer may suggest. If you don’t think their suggestions will help, do make some suggestions of your own if you haven’t already

Some people know exactly what they require at the interview, perhaps because they have experienced interviews in the past. However, it might be difficult to know which adjustments might help, or indeed which ones are possible.

Examples of adjustments:

  • Asking for the number of interviewers to be reduced e.g. from three people to a 1:2:1 interview
  • Being able to see the interview questions in advance
  • Being able to submit written answers after the interview (to provide further description to your interview responses)
  • A work trial so the employer can see how you would actually perform in job role
  • More time to answer the interview questions

Try and think about practical things the employer could put in place. It might be that you want them to simply be aware that you stammer, for example, so that they don’t assume you are overcome with nerves, lacking in confidence or underprepared.

This list of examples is not exhaustive and there may well be other personalised adjustments that would suit you better.

Some of the above examples may be more straightforward and practical for the employer to make than others. It’s quite common for applicants to have a chat with the employer about why they need adjustments and to discuss with the employer what could be changed about the interview process.

Why would I tell the employer before the interview stage?

One of the reasons would be so you can highlight some of your strengths in the CV / application form / covering letter. Those strengths may have come about from having a stammer:

  • Everybody is different, but people who stammer are often resourceful and excellent listeners. People who stammer may well have developed excellent vocabulary and find it easy to build rapport with people
  • The fact you are someone who stammers might be one of your motivations for applying to that company
  • Some companies might offer an interview to those with a stammer so long as they meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy (for example as part of a scheme such as Disability Confident)

Stammering law is a good place to find further examples of adjustments. Interestingly, it also cites examples where cases were won and lost at tribunal.           

STAMMA have some suggestions and resources to do with job hunting and interviews.

Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of Westminster

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