The (Autistic) Job Interview

Only three people (in my world) know that I was recently interviewed for a part-time job that paid £120/hr + expenses.

I was pleased but not surprised to be shortlisted, as the requirements were very narrow and yet matched my qualifications and experience.

I need assistance to travel, and so it cost double the expense of the other candidates to get to the interview as I was escorted right up to the front door. Over £200 to get there.

And so I got there.

I was shown to an empty room with a task which we might call “Spot the Legal Issues in this Scenario”. There was a case to read, a pad of A4 paper and some pens, including highlighters. And a clock on the wall. “You have 45 minutes to complete this task. You may start now”.

It took 12 minutes. I didn’t miss anything. I wrote two sides of notes with bullet points, and then watched the clock and studied the empty room for the next 33 minutes.

And then there was The Interview, which was also 45 minutes, which wasn’t really long enough.

… some days/weeks passed …

After their rejection call, I asked for Feedback. An email arrived which noted that my “analysis of the case-study was excellent” but gave other reasons why they considered I was not the best candidate.

[Could it be that I shouldn’t have pointed out that the contract terms in the Case Study amounted to an actual criminal offence under the Consumer Contracts Regulations? ]

Anyway, there are always Other Reasons why I’m not the best candidate, and I haven’t passed a single job interview in my whole working life.

For this job I had not put “Autistic” on the application form but did bring it up at the interview in response to a question about my ability to travel. Because I needed to. (I also mentioned my profound Single-Sided Deafness because it’s a problem in group settings. And at job interviews).

Putting “Autistic” on an application form doesn’t get you a job interview. Not even when there is a guaranteed interview for ticking the Disability box.

I’ve applied for several posts where they were so keen to show Inclusion & Diversity they had a *Guaranteed Interview* for disabled applicants “who meet the person specification” (there’s the rub), including one (last year) at the same organisation as my recent interview.

I ticked that box and wrote “Autistic Spectrum Condition” …  but still didn’t get an interview.

Because “Disability” was supposed to mean physical disabilities only?

Because Learning Disabilities and Autism make people uncomfortable?

But getting selected for an interview is only the first hurdle. Passing the interview is quite another thing.

While I have difficulty negotiating a train station, the formality of a job interview causes me no anxiety. But managers hire people like themselves, and autistic people are perceived as being different. Aside from the differences in eye-contact, body language, and flow of conversation, we often talk over people and interupt them as we cannot perceive non-verbal cues for when it’s our turn to speak, and we talk to everyone the same way, with no deference to authority, which could be problematic in an interview setting. We speak a different language both verbally and non-verbally, and those selecting see us as “Not one of us”.

Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid work (Source) and interviews exclude autistic people.

We have much to offer: diligence, reliability, honesty, and sometimes rare and exceptional skills, but the standard job interview model filters us out and is much more a test of social skills than our ability to perform the task advertised.

Here’s a useful guide to Neurodiversity at Work from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development –

More by me – Autistic Architect Articles

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