Springingtiger's Blog


Asperger’s Syndrome And Interviews

I have been perusing job requirements,  not yet in any great earnestness,  and it occurred to me that a person with Asperger’s might not be some employers’ first choice. Even the most ordinary job requirements can be a challenge,”a warm, empathetic and outgoing personality ” not an Aspie then! How about, ” works well on their own and as part of a team.” on one’s own is ok, but we don’t really do teams.
” . You must be flexible to work on a rotational shift pattern,” oh yeah, how many flexible Aspies can you name?  As  for the rotational shift pattern, I like to know my shifts a year in advance.
” Ability to forge strong relationships” we can do that, but rarely and we will only maintain a couple,  and they will be with people we know well.
“The ability to multi-task”  I do one thing at a time,  I consider reading on the bus multi-tasking!
“Highly motivated, personable with a friendly attitude”. The friendly attitude may prove to be a problem.
“Adaptable with a flexible approach to work” I mentioned earlier, we don’t like change.
“Excellent time management skills and ability to prioritise tasks” We do one thing at a time,  give me a list and my inclination is to start at the top and work down,  just as I read a magazine from the front cover to the back.

If we get past the application,  the interview brings further problems beginning with the handshake. I know handshakes are part of a non-negotiable social convention,  however they leave me with an awareness that I may be harbouring another person’s germs, and a desire to wash my hands that will nag me until  I can get to a washroom; this could be dealt with by using my hand sanitiser, but probably not without causing offence.

Eye contact is a major problem,  I don’t do it because it both unnerves and distracts me. One interviewer is a challenge,  an interview panel brings the prospect of overwhelm. Trying to watch several people and listen to them requires too much focus.

Whether one interviewer or several the interview presents several problems. Most people with Asperger’s cannot process non verbal language very well. There are also difficulties in processing non literal language. This puts the person with Asperger’s at a disadvantage in the interview process. Another problem  facing the Aspergian is the paralysing effect of the unfamiliar. Stress exacerbates the problems so by the time we get to interview we are hypersensitive to sensory stimuli, and this, in turn,  impacts our information processing.  Many people with Asperger’s are of above average intelligence,  but unfortunately intelligence is not a defence against stress. Although it can help one prepare for the stress of the interview.

I would like social skills to be discounted when they are not essential to the work. The environment in which the interview takes place should accommodate the particular difficulties of the Aspie. The interview must be genuine, that is to say they must be conducted with a willingness to make the necessary workplace adaptations to accommodate people with Asperger’s.

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