For people who stutter, securing employment can pose a significant hurdle as job interviews demand robust verbal communication skills to convey ideas, elaborate on work experiences, and persuade interviewers of their suitability for the position.
As the initial recruitment process increasingly relies on phone or video-chat interviews, individuals with disfluency face amplified challenges during job interviews. This added pressure can impede their ability to communicate fluently and potentially hinder otherwise qualified candidates from showcasing their full potential during the interview.
Many employers often overlook the fact that individuals who stutter can excel as communicators and possess exceptional levels of intellectual capacity, leadership skills, and teamwork abilities. They can effectively perform a wide range of jobs, including those involving public interactions. Additionally, individuals with disfluency frequently cultivate heightened empathy and sensitivity towards others’ needs. They may also possess valuable qualities such as resilience, flexibility, adaptability, and exceptional listening skills, all of which can be highly advantageous in a professional setting.
In a survey of adults who stutter, 70% agreed that stuttering decreased their chance of being hired or receiving a promotion. Stuttering can directly affect a person’s academic choices and career prospects. For instance, people who stutter may avoid subjects or jobs in the communications field, such as journalism or marketing, for fear that these would require fluency.
People who stutter are often perceived – incorrectly – as being nervous, shy and insecure. This negative perception is one of the main obstacles faced by people with disfluency. Such stereotypes often prevent people who stutter from being employed or promoted. It can also lead to a feeling that they have to keep their speaking condition a secret for fear of losing their job or being considered unfit for a specific role.
Hiding disfluency not only places the employee under enormous stress but also decreases the chance of getting proper support in the workplace. Due to a lack of understanding, many employers do not know how to support members of staff who stutter. Raising awareness and talking about it openly can help to dispel stereotypes, create an inclusive workplace and foster better career opportunities for those with a speech disorder.
In short, individuals who stutter have valuable skills and talents and should be given the same opportunities as non-stutterers. They should not be judged solely on their fluency.
If you stutter and believe that a in-person interview would enable you to convey yourself more effectively compared to a phone interview, consider requesting a face-to-face meeting or a video call. Introducing the fact that you stutter at the outset of the interview might help alleviate some of the stress you may be feeling.
If you are already employed, talking about your stutter might help your employer to understand your needs, and help you to fulfil your potential and achieve your career goals.