Employment is a key topic in our autism community, as national data indicate that the vast majority of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed today in the U.S. Many of the young adults who I know today who are highly intelligent and could succeed in the workforce but sometimes struggle when it comes to social and interpersonal skills.
One of those struggles starts with the very first time you two get to the meet that is during the interview process. For me this is often the most challenging part of finding a job as someone on the autism spectrum. Things such as eye contact for longs period of time have made me feel extremely anxious while sometimes I’ve froze during a question that I didn’t plan on being asked to me. Other interviews where there have been multiple people in the room interviewing me back and forth made me feel like I was being interrogated at times.
And don’t get me started on group interviews with multiple candidates in the room.
While I can always appreciate that you want to find the best candidate and that interviews may be key to that in some job positions, where communication and team play is pivotal, other jobs that are focused on succeeding in singular projects may not necessarily need the formal interview process.
When I give talks to employers such as yourselves today based on my personal experiences finding employment on the autism spectrum I often recommend that, in exchange for the actual interview that you instead look to do a 1-day job training to see how that individual can do in their actual position. So instead of having these candidates talk the talk so to speak they can actually walk the walk to show you why they deserve a shot at your company.
Because at the end of the day, you want to find the best employees possible who will bring the most to your company. If you are reading this letter today, I can tell you that I know some amazing people with autism who can be just that with the right supports. This isn’t something I’d encourage for your potential employees with autism but all of your employees as well.
You may be surprised from what you see when you give them this opportunity.
For those with autism reading this, you may not always get the opportunity to do a 1-day job training. Because of that I’d recommend you read over this step-by-step guide on how to succeed in a job interview provided by JobTIPS and Autism Speaks here. This guide will give you the blue print to succeed with everything from how to prep before the interview, what to remember during the day of the interview and the follow up work you should do after the interview. For those looking for employment opportunities Autism Speaks has also started TheSpectrumCareers.com, a new jobs portal designed to help find employment opportunities for those on the autism spectrum. If I can ever be a soundboard you can always contact me via my Facebook Fan Page here as well.