A Letter to Employers About The Interview Process From an Adult with Autism
This guest post is from Kerry Magro, an adult with autism who has become a national speaker, best-selling author and one of the first television talk show hosts on the autism spectrum. Magro is also on the Panel of People on the Spectrum of Autism for the Autism Society. You can learn more about Kerry on Facebook and Twitter.
Employment is a key topic in our autism community. As national data indicate, the vast majority of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed today in the U.S.
Many of the young adults who I know are highly intelligent and could succeed in the workforce, but sometimes they face challenges when it comes to social and interpersonal skills.
One of those challenges starts with the first time you meet with a prospective employer during a job interview. For me, this is often the most challenging part of finding a job as a person on the autism spectrum. Having to maintain eye contact for a long period of time made me feel extremely anxious, and sometimes I froze during a question I didn’t anticipate.
I’ve had other interviews where there were multiple people in the room interviewing me back and forth. It made me feel like I was being interrogated at times. And don’t even get me started on group interviews with multiple candidates in the room.
While I appreciate that the interview process may help you find the best candidate for openings where communication and teamwork are vital, I think other jobs that are more focused on singular projects may not necessarily need a formal interview.
When I give talks to employers about my personal experiences on finding employment, I often recommend that you conduct a one-day job training session instead of an interview to see if the candidate can actually do the job. So instead of having 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 just your potential employees with autism but for all of your employees as well.
You may be surprised by what you see when you give them this opportunity.