Preparing for Interviews with Autism

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This post is all about preparing for interviews and it came about because of a series of tweets that appeared on my feed.  Reading the conversations I saw one tweet asking about “real world” skills.  Intrigued I joined the conversation and asked what they meant, to which they responded by telling me that they wanted advice on how to prepare for interviews.

Before I begin really discussing interview preparation many of you who read this post could be attending your first interview ever and I speak from experience when I tell you that those who are in that position will feel like they are being interrogated and that any mistakes they make are being exploited.  Speaking from experience that is not true.  I agree interviews are very scary at first, but nobody is trying to catch you out or force you to make mistakes and the first few times you attend interviews always keep that in the forefront of your mind.

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As well as having been the interviewee I have also been involved in the selection and interviewing of potential candidates.  This has provided me with experience from both sides and tell you that there are many ways to prepare for an interview.

Being autistic I understand that one aspect of interviewing, which you may find stressful is not knowing what kinds of questions the interviewer might ask.  You can find sample questions and answers to them online.

The only thing I would say about researching sample questions and answers is don’t memorise the answers to questions you find.  This is because the interviewer might not ask questions that are similar to ones you researched but more importantly experienced interviewers can very quickly spot when someone has memorised answers word for word.  The reason why I warn you about this is that in my experience interviewees who have memorised answers or give very textbook style answer often don’t get offered the position or get invited to subsequent interviews.

Quite often if you applied for a job that was being managed by an external recruitment company then the consultant who will be liaising between yourself and your potential employer will try and help prepare you for the interview by letting you know what kinds of topics the interviewer is likely to question you about.

If you have recently graduated University then you might have been invited to an assessment day for a graduate scheme.  These are offered primarily by large multi-national corporations as well as banks and government departments.  Due to the high volume of applications, many of these schemes make use of standardised tests to determine, which candidates are most suitable for the job.  To understand the format of these tests and the kinds of questions that they are likely to ask you can search online for sample tests and practice them so you are well prepared as possible.

If you are attending your first ever interview and you are feeling nervous or anxious you might want to consider whether you want to disclose your autism prior to the interview.  This could benefit to you as it will mean that reasonable adjustments would have to be made, such as being allowed extra time to answer questions or extra time on tests if they are part of the selection process.

Once you feel you have prepared as much as you can then the final thing you can do is ensure that you are well rested.  Attending an interview tired is not a good idea.  So ensure you get a good nights sleep, don’t think about the interview and what might happen because the nerves and anxiety are not worth it.  Whether you are offered the job or not always remember that it is nothing personal and you’ve just got to forget about it and move onto the next interview or apply for the next job.

But before you forget about that interview I would recommend you do one important thing, which is, ask for feedback.  This allows the interviewer to explain their reasoning and decision as to why they didn’t offer you the job. Sometimes their reason is something you can’t do anything about, for example, I didn’t get offered a job, because the person interviewing me decided that at the time I didn’t have enough experience, so all I could do was just move on and obtain a job so I could get more experience.  Other times there things that you might be able to do something about at your next interview.

To close as I mentioned at the beginning of the post interviews can initially seem quite intimidating, but as you further your career and experience you will become accustomed to the process of being interviewed and those nerves you experienced at first interview will dissipate and you will start to become comfortable and relaxed whilst being interviewed.  I speak once again from experience as an interviewee because I am now at a stage in my career where my previous experience speaks for itself and I am therefore relaxed and can confidently relate my experience to the job I’m being interviewed for and I know that you will too.

I hope you found this post useful and informative. If you have any questions leave me a comment.

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