Interview tips for individuals with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC)
Going for a job interview can be quite a scary thing to do, our team have supported many individuals to successfully navigate job interviews, so we wanted to share some of our top things to think about to help you prepare for your interview:
Consider whether you will disclose your diagnosis and some information about your diagnosis such as adjustments you would like to have at the interview. This might include:
- More time on any tests you might be expected to complete
- Considerations about eye contact
- Asking for questions ahead of the interview,
- Asking the interviewer to rephrase questions that are hypothetical or abstract
- You can also ask for adjustments to the location of the interview room itself, or the environment of the room such as the lighting levels or position of your seat.
It is better to disclose and have a positive interview experience than not disclose and struggle.
A typical part of most interviews will be a focus on your past accomplishments and completed tasks. Before the interview, think of 3-4 projects or tasks you have completed in employment, university, college, school or in your community. Think about what your role was in these projects, what the outcome was, how you completed the tasks and if you overcame any difficulties.
Try to think of successful projects or actions that you took that were positive to the task, even if the project itself was not successful. For example, you may have participated in a group task, and while your contribution was successful, other team members may have struggled to participate.
Preparing notes in advance
Many people also bring a portfolio and notes to interviews. This could contain examples of your accomplishments, information about the company you are applying to, questions you might want to ask, or other information that might help you answer typical interview questions. Try to keep the notes short as a reminder – not for you to read word for word during the interview.
Use friends, family, or employment organisations to help you hone your interview skills. This will help you practise the content of your answers as well as your delivery style. Try to give eye-contact if possible and try to avoid fidgeting.
You can find common interview questions online and practice your answers to these. Try to keep your answers to the point, without going off-topic. Make sure you answer the question and try to keep the amount of backstory to a minimum. The same goes for over-sharing.
To lower any anxiety for the interview, make sure you are fully prepared in advance. This might mean planning the route to the interview location or visiting the outside, so you are more familiar. Make sure you have clean, smart clothes. This might include wearing a suit or other formal clothing. Make sure you have showered/bathed, trimmed fingernails, brushed your hair, trimmed, or shaved facial hair and taken care of any other personal grooming needs.
Highlight your strengths
Many people with ASD have an ability to hyper-focus on a subject they are interested in or passionate about and have excellent memory recall on this. You can tell an employer that you can channel your focus on a task at hand and get work completed quickly and efficiently. Other strengths often include strong creative skills, problem solving skills and a strong attention to detail which can be used to an advantage in many different careers.
Take your time
If there is a question that stumps you or you begin to feel overwhelmed, ask the interview to repeat the question, for more time to think about your answer, or to come back to that question at a later point. Try to stay calm and refer to your notes to get you back on track. Answer politely and try to give some eye contact while answering if you are comfortable to do so.