ASD

Interview Advice for People with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome looking for Fortune 500 jobs

Interviewing can be a stressful situation for anyone especially for those in the Autism Spectrum. However it doesn’t have to be.  Here are some tips, which I call the 3 P’s of Interviewing, you can use when preparing for your next interview.

Prepare

Most people don’t prepare for an interview.  Preparing for an interview means figuring out the logistics before the day of the interview.  As soon as I find out the details like time, date, location, and person I’ll be meeting with, I start preparing.  I make sure I clear out my calendar a couple of hours before and after so I won’t be rushed, I figure out how I will be getting to the interview (uber, drive myself, get a ride, or take bus), the best routes to get there, and start doing research on the job, company, AND the person I’ll be meeting with.  Many people forget that you need to build rapport with the interviewer so having a good idea of who they are, how long they’ve worked at their current company, and their career history (all things easily found on LinkedIn) can mean the difference between an offer letter or a rejection email.

Which brings me to...

Practice

A quick Google search can help you find interview questions that you can use to practice.  All you have to do is search “Interview Questions” + “Name of Company” and you’ll find the most common interview questions asked by that company.  

The next step is to write out your answers.  Most people “practice” interview questions in their heads, however they never develop the answer.  This gets them in trouble during the interview because all they practice were the high points and not the details that make up a good answer.

Once you’ve written out your answers, practice out loud with a partner.  This can help you figure out if your answer makes sense and if it gets the point across.  Your interview partner can also give you feedback on your body language and tone of voice.  

Don’t worry about memorizing a “script”.  You should focus on making sure your answers portray the real you and match up to the job description.

Positive (as in “Stay Positive”)

A “No” doesn’t mean “Never”.  It just means “Not right now.”  Use this opportunity to reach out and ask for feedback from the interviewer to learn where you can improve.  Most companies will provide feedback if you use the template below:

Send it directly to the people who you met with.

I've used this same exact email several years ago and I still think this last interaction with them made such a good impression that they called me back to offer me a new position literally 30 days later.   

You can use that feedback when you prepare for your next interview.  When you receive the response, a simple "Thank you for the feedback. I'll take this into account as I prepare for my other interviews." shows that you appreciate their input and that there aren't any hard feelings further cementing in their brains that you're a great candidate.

“Thank you once again for taking the time to meet with me yesterday.  It looks like I was passed up for the NAME OF ROLE at NAME OF COMPANY, which is unfortunate but there is always a way to make a situation into a learning experience.  As such, I would please ask that you provide me with any feedback you may have regarding our meeting and how I can improve in order to make a better impact either with NAME OF COMPANY or any other company I interview with in the future.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME”

When they respond, reply with this:

“Thank you for the feedback.  I'll take this into account as I prepare for my other interviews

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME”

Remember, finding a job you love is making sure you find something that fits your needs as much as them finding someone that fits theirs.  Make sure to test different approaches to find the one that best fits your skills and abilities.


Be Bold!

Ramon

Companies that hire ASD candidates

Three weeks ago, I made my first ever trip to Columbus, Ohio to attend OCALICON (“The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference”).  I met great people and learned more about the challenges those with ASD face during their job search and about resources available to them.  

One question I heard throughout the conference to which no one seemed to have an answer was where to find white collar opportunities for those that fall within the Autism Spectrum.  I googled, emailed people, googled again and I couldn’t find anything that had all the resources in one place.

So, I decided to create my own!

Below, you’ll find a list of the companies that have dedicated programs for ASD hires.  I also include a job search site that compiles white-collar opportunities available for those with high functioning autism.

Although there are several companies that hire those with Autism, I focus on companies that: 1) offer opportunities specifically for those with high functioning autism, and 2) have traditionally “white collar” jobs available (think software engineers, data analysts co-ops, research internships, etc.).  I want to make sure that these jobs will lead to an actual career and not just a part-time opportunity.

The list includes the company name, a short description of their initiative, a direct link to their website, and a sampling of the opportunities offered (if available).

Feel free to click through the list to find the opportunities that most make sense for you.  If you know of a company I missed or if your company has a neurodiversity hiring initiative, send me a message to add yourself to the list (Ramon (at) PersuasiveInterview.com)

Company: Microsoft

Name of Initiative/Website: disAbility

Types of Opportunities available: Software Engineer, Compliance & Controls Analyst, Senior Designer - Skype


Company: AT&T

Name of Initiative/Website: Autism Internship

Types of Opportunities available: Pilot program with 3 spots in their Dallas HR Department

Company: SAP

Name of Initiative/Website: Autism at Work

Types of Opportunities available: Once on the website, you have to send them an email to find out about the opportunities.  I sent one about a week ago and have yet to get a response. I have already sent a follow up and will update this when I get a response.

Company: Hewlett Packard Enterprises (Australia)

Name of Initiative/Website: The Dandelion Program

Types of Opportunities Available: Currently a Pilot Program

Company: Ford

Name of Initiative/Website: FordInclusiveWorks

Types of Opportunities Available: Currently a Pilot Program

Company: JP Morgan-Chase

Name of Initiative/Website:

Types of Opportunities Available: Technology Analyst Program - Internship

Company: Google

Name of Initiative/Website: Google Inclusion

Types of Opportunities Available: Software Engineer, University Graduate, Data Scientist/Quantitative Analyst, Engineering, University Graduate

The Spectrum Careers:

This was an interesting website that I came across while doing research.  It has opportunities from tons of companies including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and many other household names.  The opportunities looked like they were only available for 2-3 days so if you see something, you should apply immediately.

https://www.thespectrumcareers.com/


How to calm your nerves during an interview with ASD

When I was in middle school, I was part of the Gifted & Talented program also known as the GT program.  Basically they grouped all the nerds and put them in all the same classes that were more advanced. In those classes, one of my friends, let’s call him John, was at the top of the class in the grade rankings.  He was the school valedictorian if there is such a thing for a middle school.

Problem was, taking a test was a big deal for him.  He would get so nervous that he would literally vomit before a test.  On more than one occasion I saw him get beet red, sweating profusely, shivering like he was in the middle of a snow storm, and cry his way through a pop quiz.  

A similar situation happens to many people during interviews.  Even though everyone gets a certain level of nervousness, a portion of the population suffers from severe episodes of nervousness.

I decided to write down the 6 step process I recommend people follow to help them control and reduce the way nervousness affects them during interviews.  

Plan

Fail to plan, plan to fail.  Planning doesn’t have to be stressful.  Instead of thinking of all the things you have to do, focus instead on the process.  Just like a cake recipe, you go from one step to the next which leads you to the end result.  Consider the planning phase the read through of the recipe.

Research

Something I have found very useful to calm my nerves before interviews is to remove all the uncertainty from the situation.  Many people get nervous because they’re afraid of what the other person may think of them. These thoughts run through their heads until all we imagine them yelling “Get out!” in the middle of the interview.  

What if instead of wondering what they may think, we do some research to get to know them better?  

Looking through their LinkedIn profile will give you some excellent clues on how they think and what they may ask you.  Write down what schools they went to, the companies they’ve worked at and things you find interesting. For example, if they got a degree in engineering but are now doing accounting, that career change may be something you can write down as interesting and ask them about.  Length of time at jobs, similar companies you’ve worked at and anything you think you two have in common. These are always good points to bring up during the interview.

You can also look at their facebook and other social media profiles to get a better idea of who they are.  I like to do a general google search and see what else there is about them online.

I’ve done this with all my other clients and it’s always amazing what we’re able to find.  One time we found a company newsletter that had a full article on the hiring manager and his how he did beekeeping as a hobby.  My client brought this up during the interview which immediately turned the interview into a conversation. Obviously the hiring manager was excited to talk about beekeeping as well as impressed that someone took the time to really prepare for the interview.  

Now instead of meeting a stranger, you’re meeting someone you kinda know.  This makes the whole interview a less daunting event.

Practice

Obviously practicing is important however there is a difference between practicing and rehearsing.  I don’t want you to memorize answers. I don’t think memorizing helps calm nerves because you might then worry about messing up your script.  Instead, create your Interview Theme which is how you want the interviewer to see you and practice the answers you think those answers would be to the questions.

Aside from our practices, you should practice on your own whenever you have some free time.  You can record yourself, do it in front of the mirror, with someone else as long as you’re able to practice out loud.  

You can use this free copy of my book to learn the framework to answering the most common interview questions.  

You want to practice so much, you’ll be able to improvise.  

Visualize

Visualization is something I feel strongly about.  I consider it part of your preparation since you are mentally practicing several scenarios in your head.  If any of those scenarios or even some you haven’t thought of, come up, you’ll be able to react accordingly because you’ve “been there before”.  

Below is an excerpt from the book The Power of Habit which has that story I use often during my one-on-one coaching sessions  about Michael Phelps and how he thought about his perfect swim every day since he was a teenager until he won 23 Olympic gold medals.  

“When Phelps was a teenager, for instance, at the end of each practice, Bowman would tell him to go home and "watch the videotape. Watch it before you go to sleep and when you wake up."

The videotape wasn't real. Rather, it was a mental visualization of the perfect race. Each night before falling asleep and each morning after waking up, Phelps would imagine himself jumping off the blocks and, in slow motion, swimming flawlessly. He would visualize his strokes, the walls of the pool, his turns, and the finish. He would imagine the wake behind his body, the water dripping off his lips as his mouth cleared the surface, what it would feel like to rip off his cap at the end. He would lie in bed with his eyes shut and watch the entire competition, the smallest details, again and again, until he knew each second by heart.

During practices, when Bowman ordered Phelps to swim at race speed, he would shout, "Put in the videotape!" and Phelps would push himself, as hard as he could. It almost felt anticlimactic as he cut through the water. He had done this so many times in his head that, by now, it felt rote. But it worked. He got faster and faster. Eventually, all Bowman had to do before a race was whisper, "Get the videotape ready," and Phelps would settle down and crush the competition.”

From The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Power Pose:  

This is something I also feel strongly about.  There is research that shows Power posing has immediate effects on your testosterone levels.  Just 2-5 mins of power posing can help you raise your testosterone (which helps you with focus and quick thinking).

From the Association for Psychological Science findings:

“High-power posers experienced elevations in testosterone, decreases in cortisol, and increased feelings of power and tolerance for risk; low-power posers exhibited the opposite pattern.”

There are several moves you can try and the easiest is the superman/wonder woman pose.  This is where you stand up straight, shoulders back, eyes forward, feet shoulder width apart and hands on your hips (see wonder woman pic below).  Your head should be straight almost like if you had a string attached to the crown of your head that someone is pulling up.

Breathe either with your eyes open or closed in this pose.  I like to do it with my eyes closed and visualize but you can also just stare at your reflection or just straight ahead.

Breathe

Look at this video ( It’s only like 10 mins long.):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sgb2cUqFiY

It has a great presentation on how to correctly breathe. Practice this in the days leading up to your interview as well as the day of.