Interviews generally give a poor indication of someone’s ability to perform in a particular role. This is even more the case with autistic candidates and there are much more appropriate ways to assess them, including relevant work trials or tests. However, if you have to interview a candidate you know to be on the autistic spectrum, here are some tips to bear in mind:
Before the interview:
• Ask the candidate if they need any particular adjustments to help them perform well at the interview
• Tell the person how long the interview will be and the structure of the session, and particularly if you will include any tests
• Allow notes to be brought into the interview session
• For some candidates, having access to the questions prior to the interview may be helpful
• If anything regarding the interview changes (time, location, etc) give as much notice of this as you possibly can
During the interview:
• Wear name badges or have cards clearly visible with names where possible so the person knows who you are
• Provide some water as the person may be feeling very anxious. Tell the person they can have some water at any time (i.e. giving them permission to take it)
• When asking questions, be explicit and avoid hypothetical situations such as “what would you do if?”
• Where possible ask for concrete examples (Give me an example of x).
• Give the candidate plenty of time to respond
• Ensure the questions are directly related to what the job requires
• When asking examples of previous work try to be specific e.g. Have you completed spread sheets? What software did you use?
• If you want the person to give you more information and their answer has been too brief, then prompt them to provide a little more
• Politely, say to the person if they are giving too long a response to a question that they have given sufficient information
• Be clear when you are moving onto another question
• If the person seems unsure of an answer to a question, try to restate it
• For some people eye contact may be ‘fleeting’ as it can be harder to fix on one person. The person may not easily look directly at the interviewer and at the same time be able to think about their responses. This should not necessarily be seen as unfriendly or not engaging with the interview.
• Be aware that answers to some questions for some people may be ‘overly honest’.