Dyslexia and interviews

As the symptoms of dyslexia will worsen for many under interview stress, it may be useful to have a plan with a few techniques to utilise and aid your memory to help structure your answers.

After being rejected from Oxford after interviews in 2019, I have learnt very clearly where I let myself down at interviews and the things I can do to help strengthen the way I approach them. After having worked on the techniques outlined below, sitting the interviews for my Oxford reapplication a month ago was overall a much more positive experience, as was sitting the interviews for my current job.

These tips are based on personal experience and the feedback I have had from interviewers. They, therefore, may not work for everybody, but if you are looking for a place to start to minimise the effects the anxiety/dyslexia combination has on your interview performance, then look no further. I hope you find something useful!

Two ladies sitting in front of a laptop having a conversation

1. Don’t be scared to ask for a question to be repeated and write the question down if given the time to do so.

For a lot of people with dyslexia, remembering information under pressure can be difficult and, because of this, I cannot stress enough how useful writing thoughts and questions down in interviews can be. Unfortunately, sometimes candidates are not given the time or opportunity to do so. In this case, simply asking to hear the question again can be really helpful; it not only refreshes your memory but it also gives you more time to think about your answer and a chance to make your existing thoughts more relevant to the question.

Asking for a question to be repeated in an interview may seem like a daunting prospect but a well thought through answer gained from having a good understanding of the question is far better than not giving an answer that properly fits the question. The company/university has called you for an interview for a reason – they want you to do yourself justice too!

If you are given the opportunity to write down the question, your thoughts on the question or any questions you may have, it is useful to do so, particularly if you are given pre-reading to discuss in the interview. It can give you an opportunity to express your thoughts clearly while under less time pressure, and having good pre-reading notes may help calm your nerves going into the interview!

2. Voice the obvious answer first.

Though this may seem like a clear point for some, it took me a lot of practice to even start being able to do this! For some people with dyslexia, organising and prioritising information can be harder than for people who do not have the learning difficulty.

Before my Oxford interviews last December, I made some effort to practice voicing the most obvious answer first and addressing more abstract answers later, even though that may not be the order thoughts generally come to me. Dedicating an extra few seconds to ordering your thoughts can be useful and, following that, I found that voicing the obvious first and then addressing more abstract answers with a phrase, such as, “another interpretation could be…” can help add more structure to the answers.

I am aware that it can be hard to think in this way under interview stress; trust me when I say I was unable to do this in many of the questions asked at Oxford interviews last year due to nerves! But, as with everything, the more practice you have the easier I believe it will get. Therefore, if you struggle with prioritising information as I do, asking a friend or family member to give you mock interviews and to prompt you to stick to the question and voice the obvious first can be very useful.

3. If you feel it would be beneficial, ask for a few more seconds to think.

If more time is needed to consider the question or structure your answer then make sure to take it or ask for it if you feel under time pressure. If you have been invited to interview for a job or a university place, the institution is interested in you and will want to know what you have to say.

Feeling like you have done your best is important and for many people with dyslexia that involves having extra time, whether that be having a percentage of the entire interview time added onto the end as arranged before the interview or just letting the interviewer know you may need a few more seconds to think about the questions during the interview. More of that on the next point!

4. Consider telling HR/admissions of your disability and what access arrangements you need.

I am aware that many, like myself, worry about discrimination when considering telling a prospective company or university about dyslexia. However, I have learnt to think that if an interviewer is not willing to make the arrangements needed to put you on an even playing field then the institution they represent simply is not worth your time or effort. If this is the case, I would look to apply to a different institution who will value you as you deserve to be. However, most interviewers would be more than happy to make the adjustments needed to help you flourish during the interview.

The benefits of telling an interviewer about your dyslexia can include arranging extra-time for answering questions in the interview, arranging extra-time for pre-reading and being permitted to take notes during the interview. It may also give you a chance to talk about the unique strengths dyslexia has given you like resilience or creativity! You may be asked to submit diagnostic paperwork to make arrangements such as extra time, so, during your job hunt or UCAS application, make sure to have that to hand.

It may also be useful to look through the company or university’s ethos to see if they push equality and inclusivity as a priority. Particularly in my most recent experience job hunting, the vast majority of companies who do this really do make an effort to make you feel accommodated for during interviews. I am currently working for a company that has a core set of values including equality and both the interview and working for them has been a very positive experience.

5. Look through the job/course description carefully and think of possible interview questions they might ask you.

The job/course description can provide lots of useful hints as to what you may be asked in the interview. For example, if the job description mentions that you’ll have to perform a certain task they may ask you if you have had experience working on it in the past. Similarly, if a university course description mentions you’ll be covering a specific topic, have you studied that topic in the past? If so, what did you learn from it and have you been involved in any super-curricular activities related to it?

This can be a really good way to prepare for your interview and to therefore calm your nerves beforehand. Though, at the same time as this, try not to expect any specific question as it may throw you off if you are not asked it. Keeping an open mind, being confident in the knowledge of your subject/profession and being prepared to answer as wide a range of questions as possible will likely be of most use.

If you find that some of these techniques are hard to use under the stress of the interview, particularly the ones involving organising thoughts, be kind to yourself and know that it takes time and practice. My interview technique is nowhere near perfect yet, but with every interview that comes, I try to learn and improve.

Good luck with that upcoming interview!

Source: https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/news/dyslexia-and-interviews-5-tips-that-changed-the-way-i-approach-them-for-the-better?fbclid=IwAR0pvbdJ4Lxt4qi6_zuubM3kAjdSJW5zMxHMQSjQFmkcHPmXwCZCUWw1R_w

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Off On

Craig has been a brilliant supporter, very professional, friendly, approachable and excellent communication throughout. Craig has gone out of his way to provide assistance, this has been a great aid for dealing with all my education difficulties and I really appreciate. Couldn’t ask for a better service, I highly recommend.

Would totally recommend Develop us, made my son feel at ease. Having the assessment done in the comfort of his own surroundings I think was a big help. My son actually enjoy his day and didn’t seem stressed or worried about the assessments. Craig was so helpful and still is a month on sending me useful links etc. Thank you so much.

Craig has been a great help, he’s been considerate and clear throughout and provided further support. Craig has gone out of his way to provide guidance and assistance, which has been a huge comfort and aid for dealing with workplace and personal issues, for which I am wholly grateful and highly recommend his services.

I recently had an assessment as an adult for dyspraxia or Developmental Co-ordination Disorder after self-referring. Craig was brilliant throughout. Great to deal with, understanding of my needs, and very supportive. He gave me a comprehensive assessment and communicated to me the whole process in an easy to understand manner. The final report was well written and I now have the evidence I need to get support in the workplace. I would highly recommend him and Develop Us

Craig is very patient and maintained really excellent communication throughout the whole process. During his assessment he was professional and patient, and pulled out all the stops to get his report to us ASAP. Highly recommended.

Craig has been a brilliant supporter, very professional, friendly, approachable and excellent communication throughout. Craig has gone out of his way to provide assistance, this has been a great aid for dealing with all my education difficulties and I really appreciate. Couldn’t ask for a better service, I highly recommend.

Craig has been a fantastic support with my son, Craig offers a wealth of knowledge, experience and great advice. Craig is enthusiastic and has a great deal of patience with the people he supports, I would have no hesitation in recommending his services and wish him all the best in the future.

Craig has been a Godsend to myself and my husband and my eldest daughter who was diagnosed. I am glad I asked for Craig’s professional opinion on the matter.  I am glad he did the assessment and we got the outcome of what we have thought it was for a while now. Thank you Craig.

I am a student who has been receiving support and tutoring from Craig since November 2018. Since receiving tutorial support from Craig, I have progressed onto high-level courses and an access course which has helped with my studies, knowledge and work. Craig has shown me support and helped make my course work manageable. I feel that I have been able to turn to Craig with any question or doubt and have received nothing but clarity and guidance. Without Craig’s help and support I do not think I would have the courage and ability to complete the courses and progress to higher levels. I have had support off Craig for a variety of courses and with work advise.

I feel that Craig has given me the confidence to take steps in my life that I would not have made on my own. Craig has not only been friendly and supporting, but has also been very professional, reliable and organised with the help he has given me.


Craig engages with his students in a way that is both professional and clear and thus gains the most of the time spent in his classes.

Phone: 07575 678 567
Email: info@developus.wales
Message us on Whatsapp