Blue Flower

On April 1, 2017 the Dutch program ‘Nieuwsuur’ broadcasted an item about the 20,000 bachelors with autism in the Netherlands who are unemployed. In a previous article I wrote about what you have to do
to be invited for the job interview. In this article I want to inform you about the job interview.

Finding and keeping a connection with your conversation partner is very important


First, why should you find a job? Finding a meaningful job makes that you can make more choices, and your own outlook on your life will also improve. Becoming (financial) independent, from your parents or from the organization that pays your unemployment benefit, is of course a benefit in itself. But that job interview can seem in unforgivable hurdle. So, better prepare before you start the job interview.  

Business man and woman shake hand

Taming your nerves
A person doing a job interview has to show certain skills which come not naturally for an autistic person. You have to wear appropriate clothes, give the correct handshake, look at your conversation partner at the right moment, but not stare, make small talk, show enthusiasm and even smile once in a while, while being totally nervous and in an unfamiliar environment. Luckily you will not be the first person who is nervous for the job interview. The person interviewing you knows this and will invest some time to put you at ease. Only when you settle down (s)he will start the job interview.

Wearing correct clothes
What you have to wear to your job interview depends on the job. Naturally you take a shower, use deodorant and put on clean clothes and neat shoes. Depending on organization and type of job you might need to wear trousers or a skirt, a shirt or blouse, or even wear a suit. See if you can match your choice of dress with the dress code of the company and function. You might consider visiting the organization during lunch time to observe what the dress code of your future colleagues is. But most important, wear clothes in which you feel comfortable.

The correct handshake  
Offering a correct handshake can also be a challenge. Make eye contact and offer a sincere smile to show that you are happy to be where you are. During your conversation look to your partner regularly, if only to see if you do not digress too much into your favourite topics or have lost your conversation partner. Finding and keeping a connection with your conversation partner is very important. The job interview is not only used to find out if you are the right person for the job. The interviewer will also use this opportunity to assess your character. Therefore, be careful how you answer the questions asked. The question: 'Tell me something about yourself', during the job interview is mainly meant to let you give a summary of your knowledge and skills and how they will fit in with the job. Also give some concise information about where you grew up and for example your hobbies. You will have to ask yourself what the interviewer really wants to hear.

Asking your own questions
Find out what you would like to learn from the company you are applying to. Use LinkedIn (LINK you can find more information about the organisation you want to work for, and the person you are talking to. Prepare some questions that you can ask during the conversation. For instance, when you find out the person you will be talking to works for a longer time for the organisation you could ask what made her/him stay. When the company recently been in the news in a positive way you can ask what the department you will join has contributed to it.

Be prepared for questions that will be asked to you. Make a list of strong and (a few) less strong points of yourself that you can use during the conversation. Think about why you want to have this particular position. What will your contribution in knowledge and experience to this position? Also think about what you might have to do in this job. You can then ask questions about the function yourself and are prepared if this question is asked to you.

Autism friendly job interviews
IT companies have found out that applicants with autism can have problems with a job interview. That's why autism-friendly situations are being created that allow applicants to show what they have to offer over a longer period of time. For example, multi-day meetings are organized in which the applicants are assigned to problem-solving tasks in a group while looking if you show the right skills. Hopefully the rest of businesses will follow. Because even outside of ICT, autistic employees can make a useful contribution to the bottom line of an organization.