Nervousness about an interview affects nearly everyone. But if you’re experiencing alopecia areata, you may feel like you have an added stressor around interviews.
You may be unsure what to wear, whether or not to tell your story, and what your interviewers will think. Preparing yourself for all of this will help you ace your interview, regardless of whether or not you choose to disclose your story.
Below, Sheridan Ruth, one of our community members shares her top 5 tips for job interviews with alopecia.
1. Research The Position and Company
This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to interviewing and it is particularly important if you are a little nervous about your alopecia areata. Coming into the interview prepared and educated helps manage some of those pre interview jitters.
You can start by learning more about the company, and also a bit about what your role would entail. Plus, the company’s motivations, their core values, and a bit about the company culture. I also recommend having a look at their HR policies to understand if there is a uniform requirement and if so, what this entails. Coming in prepared will help you feel more comfortable and confident.
Not only will this make you more prepared than most candidates, it will give you a sense of whether or not you’re going to fit in and feel comfortable in the position.
Bonus tip: On your resume, if you are a member of an Alopecia Support group like ours, you can write that down. This may open the conversation up easily, or they may even research Alopecia Areata beforehand as they might not be familiar with the term.
2. Choose How to Dress
How you present yourself at your interview is important. Even if the place is business casual, make sure that you’re dressed professionally and appropriately for the interview (i.e. don’t show up in sweats or leggings – think a collared shirt and dress pants).
If you have alopecia areata, part of this is going to mean choosing what (if anything) you wear on your head. If a wig is what makes you feel most comfortable, then by all means wear it! But you don’t have to go that route if it’s not in your repertoire. You can play with hats and scarves, and going in without anything is also an option.
The point is to wear (or not wear) what’s going to make you feel most confident, which brings me to my next point.
3. Confidence is Key
Whether or not you decide to wear a wig, a head scarf, or go to the interview au naturel, your confidence is going to be key. Confidence literally shines through you for others to see, and the same can be said about a lack of confidence. That is, it’s obvious to the people in front of you when you don’t believe in yourself and your abilities.
Take some time to find your confidence before the interview and walk in there with the ability to recognize and communicate your unique set of skills – which, has nothing to do with your hair, by the way.
Confidence-building could be in the form of reciting affirmations in the days leading up to the interview, practicing visualization techniques, or talking to someone in your support circle who makes you feel like the best version of you. You might also practice the interview with someone you trust, which gives you an opportunity to share your strengths and skills.
4. Consider Sharing Your Story
Besides working on that confidence prior to the interview, you might consider sharing your story and how it has made you who you are today. Of course, you’re under no obligation to tell them about your alopecia, but there are some creative ways to share it in a way that empowers you and highlights the strong person it makes you.
When they ask about your strengths, you can talk about how you’ve coped with your alopecia and how that’s made you a stronger, more compassionate, and more self-loving and self-accepting individual. Working your alopecia into an answer to a question means you’re putting it out there. You won’t have to worry about when or how it comes up because you will have taken that into your own hands.
If you decide to go this route, be prepared to answer follow up questions, but don’t make your alopecia the focus of the interview. You are more than your alopecia and that’s not what you’re bringing to the job. You can answer as little or as much as you like, you’re the boss. You can find resources on speaking about your alopecia here.
One of the follow up questions might be “are you sick?” You can answer no, I am not. You can reference or print off this fact sheet to help explain Alopecia Areata.
Printing it out is a great idea in case you’re not comfortable talking about it, you can provide them with information to read.
5. Ask Questions
While, yes, for the most part, you’re going to be the one put on the spot here, most interviewers also give you an opportunity to ask questions. Take that opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework. Asking questions that show you’ve done your research on the company puts you above and beyond other candidates, but it also shows that you’re curious and willing to learn.
This is a great opportunity to show that you believe in yourself and that you have your own best interests at heart. Ask how they see you fitting into the company. If you’re concerned about your alopecia and uniform requirements, you might ask what the uniform requirements are (again, you don’t have to tell them about your alopecia).
Job interviews can be nerve-racking as is, but your alopecia doesn’t need to add on any stress. Keep these 5 tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way to earning your seat at your dream job.
If you still feel very emotional about your hair loss when speaking about it, working with support can help you take some of the charges out of the emotion so that you can rock the job interview process as the amazing, qualified person that you are! You can read more about support here.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AAAF.