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Asked by Peter on March 13, 2015

Do people who stutter meet the requirements of communication at work? I stutter a lot when I feel nervous. During my job search, I feel hesitant to apply for jobs which require excellent communication skills. No matter how much I practice before interviews, I still get stuck a lot when facing recruiters. I feel that I can't present the best of myself during the interviews. What should I do?

Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health, on March 18, 2015

Excellent communication skills could mean a couple of different things. This could be referring to verbal or written communication so I wouldn’t automatically disqualify yourself. When talking about excellent verbal communication skills, the position description could be referring more so to the content of the message you’re delivering. As long as you are able to fully answer questions, a stutter shouldn’t disqualify you. I would recommend concentrating more on the answers you’re providing and ensure that you’re answering questions in full. A recruiter may only want to know that you understand what is being asked and you can communicate your answer or message.

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at Emerson, on March 18, 2015

Many people get nervous when interviewing and that nervousness can manifest in many different ways. Stuttering, overselling ourself, not connecting with the person conducting the interview...we want to make sure that we are presenting our best self to the interviewer and hope to be the final candidate selected; we want to "win" the job. Practice interviewing; you may become less nervous. If you are concerned about being unprepared for a question that the recruiter may ask, make sure that you have carefully reviewed the job posting, studied the company and can see how your skills will benefit the company. Also remember: communication is not just verbal. We communicate in many different ways in the workplace today. If you have examples of your work that you can share (make sure that you are not sharing confidential information), provide those. A skilled recruiter will be able to see beyond the nerves.

When I decided to leave my previous employer, it had been a number of years since I had interviewed outside and I was nervous. Would I be able to "sell" myself? Inside my previous company, my accomplishments were known, but how would I translate that success to another company? My approach was to make sure that I interviewed at least once per month. I actually made it a New Year's resolution that year. I knew that I might not find a job every month that I was interested in AND qualified for, but I took advantage of every opportunity. Some phone screens, some face to face interviews (many of which I was not successful in), but also networking events and volunteer opportunities. With each successive interview, my confidence grew. I was still nervous, but I was able to manage the nerves better. When I found the job/company that was exactly what I was looking for in my next role, I was prepared and ultimately was offered (and accepted) the position.  
 
Best of luck with your job search!

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Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at Asurion, on March 19, 2015

Interviews can be nerve-wrecking! It's easy for individuals to put so much pressure on performing well in the interview that they forget to be themselves. Remember that before a recruiter offers an interview, they've seen your resume and believe you have the education and experience to meet the job requirements. Rather than trying to quiz candidates during an interview, recruiters ask questions because they simply want to know more of your story. The good news is, you are an expert at knowing yourself - so relax, breathe and allow the recruiter to get to know you! 

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Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., on July 29, 2015

I would definitely still apply to those jobs that require “excellent” communication skills. A lot of people battle that habit everyday and many have found little tips and tricks to overcome their stutter. Personally, when I get nervous, I take a deep breath and then start, sometimes that collective deep breath helps me calm down and from there I can talk almost stutter free. Practicing too much before your interview could heighten your nerves, as you interview more, your nerves will subside and you will learn how to overcome your stutter. You should not let your stutter determine what job profession you go into. For now, you could research a little bit about different tactics and tricks that have worked for others and from there you could learn different ways to handle your nerves during an interview or on an important call. If asked about a weakness during your interviews, you could explain that you are working toward becoming better at communicating and then go into how you are doing so. This shows the recruiter that you are taking the initiative to develop the skills necessary to be successful in the workplace. Good luck with your job search!

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