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Adults with Autism – What to Say in a Job Interview

Although people with autism are capable of getting and keeping jobs of all kinds, the interview and hiring process can seem a bit more overwhelming for the autism community. For example, should you mention autism in a job interview? Are you required to mention it? What kind of questions do employers ask people on the spectrum?

Keep reading to learn the answers to those questions and more about disclosing autism during an interview.

Disclosing Autism During an Interview

The most common question surrounding autism and job interviews is whether or not you must disclose the fact that you have autism. The short answer is no. Disclosing autism, or any disability is a personal decision that people should make based on their own needs, beliefs, and comfort level. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you are not required to disclose a disability until an accommodation is needed — whether you are a job applicant, interviewee, or employee.

If you do not need accommodations for the application or interview process, there’s no real need to disclose a disability. But, if you will need accommodation for the application or interview, we recommend letting the employer know as soon as possible.

There’s also no reason to feel like you need to hide your autism diagnosis from the interviewer or employer. So, if you are open to sharing your autism diagnosis, feel free to! As we mentioned, it is, most importantly, a personal choice whether or not to disclose autism during an interview.

If you do decide to disclose your autism diagnosis before or during the interview process, make sure you highlight the unique skills that autism brings — you have skills that other people don’t have, which is something to be proud of and that can really impress and interviewer. For example, “I have autism, so I am really good at picking up on small details. This allows me to be precise on the job.” Highlight your creativity, problem-solving skills, and any other unique skills you can bring to the workforce. We recommend writing these skills down and having the paper or note handy during the interview in case you get distracted by the nerves.

Spectrum Interview Questions

Here are some common interview questions that you should practice and be prepared to answer:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Tell me about your unique
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Give an example of a problem you solved in the past and how
  • What are some of your accomplishments?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What type of work environment do you thrive in?
  • Tell me about how you work in a team?

You can practice answering these questions alone, with a friend or family member, or through a professional program like Adult Autism Center’s Vocational Training program that focuses on everything related to employment and personal growth. Whether you would like to apply for a job or build the social skills needed to thrive in a workplace environment, this program offers ongoing, structured support.

Preparing to Nail the Interview and Follow Up

There’s a lot of preparation that goes into nailing a job interview and successfully curating a follow-up. Here’s our expert advice:

Before the interview:

  • Update your resume and print three to five clean copies that you keep in a folder to prevent wrinkling. Bring these copies with you to the interview.
  • Print out your reference information (this can be included with your resume or separate)
  • Prepare a list of pertinent information to help you fill out the job application if needed—for example, your phone number and address and social security number.
  • Make sure you have a form of photo I.D.
  • Review the job description.
  • Research the company to find out its mission and pertinent details about its operations, reputation, and successes.
  • Practice your interview questions and rehearse your answers out loud. Practice your tone of voice, eye contact, and facial expressions.
  • Make a list of a couple of questions you have about the position.
  • Have a clean and professional outfit ready to wear (more on this below).

The day of the interview:

  • Dress for success! No matter what kind of job you are interviewing for, it’s essential to look professional, neat, and clean. That means clean and ironed clothing that fits well with a matching belt, shoes, and socks.
  • If your interview is for an office job or in a professional field, you will need to dress more formally. While formal, try to wear something that you are comfortable and confident in.
  • Men should wear a black, gray, or navy suit and tie. If you don’t own a suit, you should wear a sport coat with nice slacks and a dress shirt and tie.
  • Women should wear a professional dress with a blazer or pants or skirt suit. If you don’t own any blazers or suits, you should wear a nice blouse and pants.
  • If you are under the age of 18 or your interview is for manual labor or retail (less formal positions), you won’t be expected to wear a suit. Here’s what we recommend for less formal positions:
  • Men should wear nice slacks — not jeans, shorts, or sweats — a tucked-in long sleeve shirt with a collar with a matching belt, shoes, and socks.
  • Women should wear a skirt or nice pants with a blouse with sleeves and flat shoes or shoes with a small heel. If you don’t own any appropriate job interview clothing and you need financial assistance to get some, check out local organizations in your area or CareerGear and Dress For Success.
  • Make sure you are well-groomed — bathed, teeth brushed, combed hair, wearing deodorant, and men should shave the day of the interview.
  • Arrive 15-25 minutes early to make a good impression and ensure you are not late. Wait outside or in the waiting area.
  • Be polite and friendly to all staff you come into contact with. You may need to tell an employee that you are there for an interview so that your interviewer knows you have arrived.
  • Prepare to greet your interviewer with a smile and handshake. Look your interviewer in the eyes and say, “Hello, my name is ____. Thank you for your time today.”
  • Wait for your interviewer to sit down, then take your seat.
  • Make occasional eye contact with the interviewer for at least five seconds throughout the interview. If you are not comfortable with direct eye contact, try periodically looking at the interviewer’s face or mouth.
  • Smile and nod occasionally to show that you are actively listening.
  • Sit straight up in your chair and try your best to sit still.
  • Answer each question politely, even though the information might already be on your resume or application.
  • Don’t end the interview yourself. Wait for the interviewer to indicate the end of the interview.
  • Always say “thank you” when the interview is over. Try to express interest in the job by saying something like, “this seems like a great place to work. I look forward to hearing from you soon!”
  • Once again, smile and make eye contact with the interviewer while shaking their hand.

After the interview:

Within two days of your interview, write a thank you letter or email to your interviewer. This is a good chance to remind them of your eagerness and excitement about the job. It can be hard to be patient when waiting to hear back from the interviewer. But, don’t email them more than once about the job.

Adult Autism Center Can Help

Are you or a loved one with autism preparing for a big job interview? Or do you just want to get a handle on interviewing etiquette and skills? The Adult Autism Center can help. As the first of its kind, The Adult Autism Center seeks to provide hands-on training and ABA therapy for individuals. These programs aim to focus on daily living, vocational skills, and more. Contact us to learn more about how our programs can help serve you and your loved one today.

Heather Davis graduated from Texas A&M University with her Ph.D. in Special Education and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Heather has spent 18 years of her professional career working with children diagnosed with autism and their families. In her previous role as the Clinical Director of the Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning, her focus was to provide on-going staff training to ensure the delivery of high-quality, evidence-based services to meet the individualized needs of each child diagnosed with autism. She is inspired to continue to work in this field by the progress clients demonstrate which helps to improve their quality of life. Hearing individuals speak their first words, gain independent living skills, and demonstrate skills families never thought possible are what drive her to become a better clinician and continue to work with these important members of our community. In her free time, Heather enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her twin girls and husband exploring all the wonderful landscapes of Utah.

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