Job interview skills for teens with language disorder

Young adults with language disorders are expected to obtain and keep jobs, even though their disability may be a hindrance. This is perhaps most true in the interview process, when first impressions are key— “… the ability to communicate effectively during the interview process is paramount when job applicants are considered for a position…”

SLPs working with young adults are in a perfect position to support the language and social skills required for job interviews. This paper contains two studies of the same therapy program (with slight modifications, and the second study much larger than the first). The researchers found that teen participants with language disorders significantly increased positive and decreased negative non-verbal social communication following the program (with significant increases to positive verbal behavior in Study 1, but non-significant verbal behavior change in Study 2). Encouragingly, the “…young people with more severe language deficits and/or cognitive impairments appeared to improve as much as peers with less marked impairment.”

What was the intervention?

Fifteen total hours of group intervention, plus two 45-minute individual sessions. Activities included:

  • mock interviews, recorded, for student and SLP to identify positive and negative interviewing behaviors, and set personal goals
  • preparation for the interview day, e.g. choosing appropriate clothing, timeliness, schedule
  • practicing responses to common interview questions, such as
    • “What are your reasons for applying to the job?”
    • “What are your strengths?"
    • “How do you feel about working weekends?”
    • … plus alternative wordings of such questions
    • Authors state, “… considerable therapy time was devoted to helping students understand and respond appropriately to potential interview questions…”
  • focusing on what an interviewee should do, using role play and prompt cards:
    • practicing positive non-verbal behaviors, such as eye contact, smiling, and standing when the interviewer stands
    • practicing positive verbal behaviors, such as requesting clarification and using specific examples to answer questions

Mathrick, R., Meagher, T., Norbury, C.F. (2017). Evaluation of an interview skills training package for adolescents with speech, language, and communication needs. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12315