A job interview is something that most people feel understandably nervous about. It’s expected right? Considering that your future is at stake, decided by a small moment in time usually no longer than 40 minutes in length. How can you not feel anxious in anticipation for it? Do not stress, because most people feel this way about job interviews. Adults with Autism often might experience a few additional hurdles, but there are ways to overcome these.
- Be Prepared: Create and write down a list of your strengths and if you can link these to job-related situations. You may feel uncomfortable or like you’re bragging, but job interviews are all about showcasing your accomplishments. In addition, have a few areas of challenges with examples. Make sure when you are referring to the areas of difficulties you link them to a potential solution. Ie I have difficulty remembering lots of things at once but I carry around a notepad with me to ensure I don’t forget anything.
- Practice before the interview: Social communication skills are crucial during job interviews. Practice introducing yourself, and answering common interview questions with a friend or family member. This will help you feel more confident and comfortable during the actual interview. Play both the person being interviewed and the interviewer, to get a sense of how it works and to make you less nervous. Say “Hello (person’s name), it’s nice to meet you. I’m (your name)”. Also remember to thank them for their time at the end of the interview. An important part of being prepared means knowing where to go and how to get there so that you are on time for your interview. Practice driving or taking transit to the interview location beforehand, so you aren’t as nervous when trying to find it. Aim to get there no more than 15 minutes before your interview.
- Pay Attention to your body: People with autism often might feel they have to think more than most people about their non verbals. Here are a few things that might be helpful to think about: Be aware of how you are sitting, you want to sit up straight and avoid slouching. Your feet should be firmly on the floor. Try to look in the general area of the interviewer. Aim to look at their forehead or eyebrows instead of directly into their eyes, if this helps you feel more comfortable. Take care to make sure you’re not fidgeting. A good way to manage this is by resting your hands in your lap. Try and keep your shoulders relaxed and not pushed up. Aim to answer all questions in an even, calm tone of voice. If something flusters you, take a breath, wait a few seconds, and then respond.
- Be aware of how much you talk and what you say: It’s always good to be aware of how much you are talking. If you talk on and on without stopping, you may overwhelm the other person. To avoid this, condense what you know into one or two sentences that you can throw out here and there. Aim to be speak between 3 seconds to 2 minutes per answer. Note that more complex questions may require slightly longer answers.
- Be Mindful of Your Appearance: Due to sensory sensitivities, you may prefer to wear loose fitting, soft and comfortable clothing. This may be fine on most occasions, but work environments often tend to be more formal. If you can, avoid dressing casually to a job interview. See here for some more specific tips to your industry on dress codes. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-to-dress-for-an-interview-2061163 In addition, make sure your clothes are clean and ironed. Hygiene is also an important factor in making a good first impression. Make sure you shower the morning of the interview, wear deodorant and brush your teeth.
- Learn About the Company: Research the company ahead of time. Find out as much as you can about it. Familiarise yourself with the structure of the company and their products. Try and learn the company’s values and history. By doing this, you can tailor your responses to align with the company’s needs and show your interest and commitment to the job. Mention these in the interview if you can, particularly at the end when they ask if you have any questions. Researching the company can help make you stand out from the other interviewees. It shows you are taking the job possibility seriously and that you really care about the company.
Job interviews can be overwhelming for individuals with Autism. The social cues, sensory stimuli, and unpredictability can cause anxiety and stress. However, with some preparation and self-awareness, individuals with Autism can ace job interviews and progress to achieve their career goals.