Interviewing for a job

Information about ways to prepare for an interview and improve your chances of getting the job you want.

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Preparing for an interview

If you prepare for your job interviews, you have a better chance of getting the job. 

Here are some ways you can prepare for an interview: 

Practicing interaction with people 

Here are some things you can practice before going to a job interview: 

  • Greeting people 
  • Making eye contact 
  • Answering interview questions 

It’s a good idea to practise with a range of people. 

Practicing interview questions 

Here are some typical interview questions: 

  • Tell me something about yourself?   
  • What are your strengths?   
  • What are your weaknesses? / What are your areas of development?   
  • Why do you want this job?   

You can role play interview questions with an honest person who you trust. Ask them to give you feedback. 

Here is a list of 38 common interview questions. Each question has an explanation of  

  • Why interviewers ask this question 
  • If the question has any hidden motives 
  • How to give a good answer to the question  

You can also look online for typical interview questions. Write down your answers and practice them. 

Researching the job 

Before the interview, you can search online for information about the role and the employer.  

You can also learn about the industry in general. 

Know your strengths 

It’s a good idea to know how you learn and work, and to recognise areas where you may need help.  

You can use the ‘getting to know your strengths and skills’, ‘recording your work achievements and good feedback’, and ‘S.T.A.R’ forms to help you be clear and confident when you go to your interview.  

Read more about Getting to know your strengths and skills

It’s a good idea to know the environments you are comfortable working in, for example: open plan, enclosed area, working from home, working with other people. 

Plan your travel to the interview 

A day or two before the interview, travel to the location where you will be interviewed. Learn the best way to get there and get familiar with the location. This way you’ll know exactly where to go and how long it will take on the day of the interview. This is especially important if you’ll be taking public transport.  

Disclosure

Think about disclosure at all stages, even before an interview.  

No-one can make you disclose your diagnosis of autism to any job interviewer. Even if they ask, you don’t have to tell them. 

Whether you disclose or not is your personal choice. However, you might want to highlight some of the advantages autistic minds have over neurotypical (non-autistic) minds. 

For example, you could say that you have the ability to focus on specific tasks better than most people, which makes you more productive. You could say that doing repetitive tasks doesn’t bother you at all, no matter how often you do them. Whatever it is, you can find an advantage that autism has for you and spin it into a benefit for the company.   

Accommodations 

If you decide to ask for accommodations in the interview you should explain why.  

Don’t wait to see what happens. If you need an accommodation to perform at your best, ask for it.  

Here are some examples of interview accommodations that you can ask for:  

  • Extra time for timed tests  
  • Copies of the interview questions before the interview 
  • Photos of the people who will be interviewing you 
  • A visit to the interview venue before the day of the interview 
  • Fewer interviewers in the first interview  
  • Doing the first interview by phone or video conference  
  • Requesting a particular time for the interview  

Attending the interview

On the day of the interview 

Personal presentation 

How you look is the first thing people notice about you. 

To look good for an interview: 

  • Have a shower on the day of the interview 
  • Arrange your hair in a simple, professional style 

Your clothes should be  

  • Clean  
  • Neat 
  • Professional 
  • No wrinkles 

Wear clothes that won’t distract you during the interview. Avoid clothes that are scratchy-feeling or too tight. 

Before the interview begins  

Try to arrive early to give yourself time to collect your thoughts and read your notes before the interview. 

Make sure your phone is turned off or on silent.  

During the interview 

When you arrive at your interview you should begin with a smile and the greeting ‘Hello, my name is _____ and I am here to see (interviewer’s name) for an interview.’ Try to look at the face of the person as you greet them.  

Formal questions may not start straight away. There may be some small talk and questions like ‘did you find our building easily’ or ‘is it still raining outside’.  

Interview tips

  • Looking in the direction of someone’s face may be easier than trying to focus on eye contact.   
  • Watch your body posture. Try to avoid crossing your arms, leaning on the desk or slouching. Having your arms by your side or in your lap is ideal.  
  • If possible, find your ‘neutral’ face. You can try to relax your face.  
  • The interviewers will often offer you a glass of water when you arrive. It may be a good idea to accept the water so that you can have sips during your interview if you get a bit ‘dry’ or need a moment to collect your thoughts before answering a question. Having a drink can also give you an eye contact break. By taking a sip of your drink, you can stop looking at the interviewer briefly.   
  • It is okay to say things like ‘that’s a good question’ to give you thinking time, but don’t say it for every question.  
  • It’s okay to ask the interviewer to repeat a question, or to ask if you have provided enough information to answer their question.  
  • Make sure that when you explain something you explain it in a way that your interviewers will understand. Don’t use industry jargon or acronyms that they won’t know.  
  • Remember restraint – use short answers.  
  • When asked about yourself, keep your response relevant to the job.  Limit personal information that doesn’t relate to the role.  
  • Mention background, traits, education and experience only if they relate to the job.  
  • Ask for clarification if needed.  
  • If asked about interests or favourite activities – keep your responses succinct.  

Notes 

You can and should take your notes to the interview. Everyone gets nervous in an interview. You need to be prepared for the fact that you might get flustered about finding the interview location, using public transport or trying to find a car park. Things like this can impact on how nervous you feel, and can reduce the benefit of all the good work you did preparing for the interview. If you have your notes to prompt you, it will help you get back on track and present the best version of yourself in the interview.  

You can say that you have notes with you because you get nervous in interviews and you don’t want to forget anything. This action demonstrates that you are forward thinking, organised and conscientious.  

You could base your notes on the STAR interview method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. By following the STAR approach to demonstrate your experience you can explain the situation; explain the task that you were required to do, share information on your actions doing the task, and then explain the result (how your previously mentioned actions helped to achieve a result). You can even answer questions by saying, “the situation was…, the task I was required to do was …, the action I took was…, the result was…”  

You could also take a sheet with examples of good work outcomes to help you with your answers. This list should be updated over time to highlight your strengths and achievements.    

If the interviewer asks you if you have questions  

It is common for an interviewer to ask you if you have any questions.  

Here are some examples of questions you could ask:   

  • When are you likely to make a decision about who the successful candidate for the role is?  
  • When do you need someone to start?  
  • What are the usual working hours?  

The end of the interview  

Thank the interviewer for their time, and wish them good luck in making their decision on the right candidate. You can also say ‘I look forward to hearing from you’. 

Phone interviews and video conference interviews 

It is just as important to be prepared for a phone or video conference interview as it is for a face-to-face interview.  

Do your research and have your preparation notes and job application handy to refer to during the interview. 

Be ready to take the call at the designated time and make sure you are in a quiet place.  

Answer the call professionally. For example, you may say “Hello, this is ___________ speaking”. 

Make sure you have a professional message on your voicemail in case the call goes to your message bank for some reason.  

Preparing for phone and video conference interviews 

Write down your questions beforehand so you don’t forget them.  

Have a pen and notepad handy to write down important information during the interview.  

During your phone interview you may be asked  

  • when you can start 
  • what your salary expectations are 
  • more information on how your experience matches the role they have advertised.  
  • why you want the job  
  • why you want to work for the organisation.  

It is important to have done your research in case you get these questions. Here are some more examples of interview questions. 

If you are doing a video interview, make sure that: 

  • You are dressed professionally  
  • You are sitting in a quiet location 
  • Everything in the camera view is appropriate for work  

Waiting to hear back 

After the interview is over, you must wait to hear whether or not your were successful in getting the job. This can be hard!  

You should not contact the employer more than once (maybe twice) about the job.  

Helpful links 

National Autistic Society UK have some great videos on interviews:  

References  

Whetzel, M. (n.d.) INTERVIEWING TIPS FOR APPLICANTS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER (ASD). Job Accommodation Network Consultant’s Corner: Volume 10 Issue 01.

Cole, K. (2016, August 15) A 5-STEP GUIDE TO HELP INDIVIDUALS WITH AUTISM PREPARE FOR A JOB INTERVIEW. University of Utah, Department of Educational Psychology.

Training resources

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