Autism and Job Interviews
“Tell me about yourself”
The question many people dread being asked at an interview, and from the people I have spoken with, a particularly frustrating question for people on the autism spectrum. What do they want to know? How much do they want to know? Over the next two blog posts we are going to look at Interviews and the role which they play, and how they can be adapted to allow individuals to show their true ability, which will benefit everyone involved in the process.
Before even looking at the questions involved in an interview it is important as an employer to consider the environment in which these take place, and how potential employees can be supported by the business to show their potential. Visiting a new place for the first time can be extremely daunting, so how can this be supported? As a business consider providing a visual guide of what to expect when you arrive and a clearly structured outline of what will happen on the day. Offer the opportunity for a pre-interview visit to see the buildings and rooms where the interviews will take place. These small (and free) changes could be the difference between a business gaining a valued employee with a diverse skill set. Make it clear that the interviewee can being someone along with them if they wish, this could again help to reduce anxiety level. As a business, now more than ever, it is crucial to ensure you make all reasonable adjustments to support individuals.
I would ask, is this an essential part of the job which you are recruiting for?
The room and its layout can also play a huge part in making people feel comfortable and able to display their true potential. Three (or more) people sat on one side of a desk and an individual on other side of it, is not a comfortable environment for anybody. There are examples of this now being changed, but one key aspect here for me is the notion that eye-contact is essential. I would ask, is this an essential part of the job which you are recruiting for? Are there in fact any job where eye-to-eye contact is maintained for a sustained period of time? Again, the key focus here is making sure the individual can feel as comfortable as is possible, not all factors can be removed, but as a business it is key for you to show that you are focused on supporting each individual, throughout the recruitment, selection and employment process.
Alternative Environments and approaches.
As technology has progressed so have the opportunities for changing existing processes to meet the needs of individuals. Could an interview take place via Skype, allowing the interviewee to answer questions from an environment where they feel comfortable. As mentioned producing a visual guide (photographic or video) of your buildings can make a huge difference, and will also be available for future purposes as well. You can develop one-page profiles for staff and individuals to help people gain an understanding of the people within your business (we can help you develop these and are a great tool for getting to know your employees).
Microsoft has looked at changing the traditional interviews, and introduced the chance for people to visit the company over an extended period of time and giving them the opportunity to thrive. The benefits to businesses are substantial, as well as offering the individual the chance to access the employment which they crave.
When our TRACKcafe opens we will be inviting businesses in to come and see potential employees working in an environment where they feel supported. We will also be able to offer on-going support throughout the process, and through demonstrating that you are an employer committed to developing all individuals. Think about what works best for your business? We can support you in these decisions.
We believe that with small changes the workplace can become so much more accessible to people who want to work. From my experience the majority of autistic people do not want charity, they want opportunity. Work with us to help a create spectrum of opportunities which will benefit all of those involved.
Contact us and find out how we can work together. Thomas@track.org.uk