• Cory Morrison

Autism: How to nail a job interview

Updated: Jun 13

A job interview can be nerve-wracking for anyone. For people with autism, however, there may be more challenges. Even with COVID-19’s restrictions leading to virtual job interviews, employers can still observe a candidate’s non-verbal communication. HFA Today explores the obstacles autistic people may have with job interviews and how to get past them.


Eye contact


People on the spectrum struggle with eye contact. The higher brain activity with processing emotions, many stimulis and knowing how often one should make eye contact are common struggles for autistic people.

A woman makes good eye contact in a job interview
(Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash)

According to Chron, if you make the right amount of eye contact, this can ensure that you may get the job. UCLA professor and researcher, Albert Mehrabian, says that 55 per cent of messages the brain processes base on body language. Employers may judge facial and eye movements more often than job history.


According to What are some good eye contact strategies, if you use the 50/70 rule and look at the nose, you can interact more successfully with others. Good communication skills can mean employers will likely hire you.


Posture


Non-verbal communication also includes posture. According to The Balance Careers, in a job interview, employers may notice whether your back is straight, if you lean slightly forward to show interest and if you make sure you don’t cross your arms or legs.

Three women sit with their back straights during a meeting.


As autistic people may not always pay attention to their posture, HFA Today has come up with these words. You can practice singing these in your head. “Back straight, lean slightly forward, don’t cross!” If you are nervous about how you present yourself, picture your favourite artist singing these words to you.


Enthusiasm


If you show enthusiasm, but not too much, you can impress your employers. According to Career Sidekick, if you boost your energy, ask a lot of questions and acknowledge good things about the job, employers may see you as enthusiastic. For example, you should remember to smile when you greet your interviewer.


Two businesspeople "high five"
(Photo Credit: krakenimages on Unsplash)

Autistic people may not always understand social rules. Therefore, they may not always understand how much enthusiasm is too much. For example, if a job they apply for is relevant to their special interest, they could talk too much about their knowledge and not know when to move on.


HFA Today suggests if there is a job interview topic you are enthusiastic about, make a brief comment about it to show interest and then move on. Afterward, the interviewer may continue to ask you questions or allow you to ask questions. There are likely numerous other candidates waiting for their interview. This is another reason why it is important to not go on too much.


Comfortable and appropriate


Chron says that if you dress appropriately for an interview, it shows you are serious about a job, respectful to the employer and that you want the position.

A man wears dress clothing.


According to Autism Speaks, autistic people can sometimes have hypersensitivities. Often, these hypersensitivities can include clothing. While scratchy fabric on a dress shirt may not please many people, if an autistic person have hypersensitivities with clothing, scratchy fabric can not only be annoying, it can be scary.


If clothes required for a job interview don’t make you comfortable, HFA Today suggests the following:

A man in business casual dress is on the phone. Behind him a wall has a design with the word "productivity"
(Photo Credit: Andreas Klassen on Unsplash)
  • Buy alternate dress shirts or pants to see if some are more comfortable than others.

  • Remove tags as much as possible.

  • Wear additional shirts under a dress shirt .

  • Ensure that dress pants aren’t too tight or too loose.

  • If the job interview is in-person, you can commute to your location in regular clothes before you change into your formal clothes. After the interview, you can change back into regular clothes. This will limit the amount of time to wear formal clothes.

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