Are you looking for work or thinking about moving on from your current job? Worried about how much speaking the new job might require? Want to know if, how and when to talk about your stammer? Do you tick the ‘good communication skills’ box? We’re here to help.
Look past your stammer and think about your wider skills and experience and make sure you bring these out in your CV and/or application. Importantly, check out the reasonable adjustments information below.
Have a look at the following sites for tips on preparing your CV and filling in the application forms:
Good communication is not the same as fluency.
Employers often list good communication skills on a person specification document. Don't be put off by this. Potential employers will need skills like the ability to write, analyse and present data, create a trusting atmosphere with the public and customers, manage change, collaborate to problem solve, the ability to manage staff and build teams. These are all communication skills. You may not be fluent, but have you got skills in these areas?
Many people who stammer communicate very well because communication involves far more than just speech. Good communication includes listening skills, body language, facial expression, and tone/volume of your voice. Good communication is the ability to share the right information at the right time, in the right way and with the right people. Not just the ability to make small talk.
You can ignore your stammer, and go through the whole interview process without mentioning stammering. Or you might decide to highlight it from the get-go. If you disclose after you've been invited for an interview, you can discuss 'reasonable adjustments' for the interview itself. This might be extra time for the interview, or permission to give written answers in advance. And it will allow you to focus on the questions, not your stammer. Have a read of the legal advice at the foot of this page.
Send a link to our Resources for Employers and HR Professionals to the interviewer. If you’ve been invited to a telephone interview, and you've disclosed your stammer, you can ask for an initial face-to-face interview instead.
Maybe you've left off saying anything till you get there. You can still fortify yourself and say at the start of the interview that you stammer. Do so matter-of-factly. Don’t apologise.
Research the organisation and find out who will interview you. Practise your responses to questions, based on the job description and person specification. You can call our helpline and we’ll practise questions with you. Or, reach out for help on our Facebook group, a brilliant source of support and information.
Make a good first impression. Walk into the interview room with a smile, make natural eye-contact and shake hands with your interviewers. Pause before answering a question, ask to have a question repeated if necessary. Have some questions ready for the end of the interview.
Many people who don't stammer won’t know how to respond to someone who does, so help them by talking about your stammer, something like “I stammer sometimes, so it helps if you give me a bit more time”. This addresses the elephant in the room and can help everyone relax.
Being nervous is OK. The interviewers may also be nervous, especially about causing offence. During interview questions, address how having a stammer has helped your self-development, and maybe expanded your vocabulary, helped you become more creative, more empathetic, more resilient, write better or be an excellent listener. Or how it propelled you into learning public presentation skills.
Don't be surprised if you're not asked further questions about your stammering at interview. Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are not allowed to ask about a disability during the recruitment process.
An interview is a two-way process. Is this a company you’d like to work for? Are these people you’d like to work with? Are they an inclusive company that will help bring out the best in you?
Check out the website www.scenariaid.com. It has video simulations to help people who stammer practise different speech situations, including job interviews. It's free, although you need to register.
Watch this webinar from the US-based National Stuttering Association on job interview skills for people who stammer.
Ask for feedback. Review what went well and what you think you could have done differently. Think about how you could make changes to your next application so you give yourself a better chance next time.