Optimising success in a job interview for people with ASD
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.
1. Be prepared
Create and write down a list of 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 it 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.
2. Practice before the interview
This can be done through a role-play interview with someone you trust. 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
3. Pay attention to your body
People with ASD 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.
4. 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 30
seconds to 2 minutes per answer. Note that more complex questions may require slightly
5. 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.
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.
6. Learn About the Company
Research the company ahead of time. Find out as much as you can about it. Familiarize
yourself with the structure of the company and their products. Try and learn the company’s
values and history. 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 because it shows you are taking the job possibility seriously and
that you really care about the company.