Dr. Temple Grandin once told my son Sam: “when you’re looking for employment, you must show your work“. Indeed! For someone diagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, you must rely on the merit of your work, because oftentimes challenging social cues can override a large portion of the interviewing process.
Asperger Syndrome Training and Employment Partnership provides a very good checklist to review before you go through the interview process.
An interview is a two-way street. (A polite street, with traffic rules.)
Ask questions. The employer should, and will typically, provide an opportunity for you to ask questions at or near the end of the interview.
Always prepare questions to ask.
Having no questions prepared sends the message that you have no independent thought process, are ill-prepared, or some combination of the two.
Employers make judgments about you based on the questions you ask.
Have you done your research on the organization? (If yes, good.) Are you asking dull questions that you can have answered from an internet search? (Not good.) Are your questions intelligent, thoughtful and cordial? (Very good.)
How many questions to ask?
There’s no set number. It’s not a formula. It really depends on what you need to know. A good rule of thumb is to enter an interview with three to five questions that you are prepared to discuss. You may in fact have 20 questions on your mind, but there may not be sufficient time allotted to cover that many questions. So, prioritize your questions based on the interview situation:
- Is this the first interview? Ask for information that matters most early.
- Is this the second interview? By now you should know the basics, so ask more probing questions.
- Is this an all-day interview during which you are meeting with different groups and individuals? Ask questions that fit the roles of each individual and ask one question to everyone you meet with so you can compare responses.
Show you’ve done your homework.
Example: “I read on the company website that employees recently presented at conference XX. Is that a typical opportunity in the job for which I am interviewing?”
Know the nature of the organization and appropriate terminology.
Not all employing organizations are “companies.” Governmental agencies and not-for-profit organizations are usually not referred to as companies. Most educational institutions are not for-profit (although some are), and may call themselves schools, colleges, universities, institutions, etc. Some for-profit organizations may call themselves firms or businesses or agencies.
You will appear more prepared if you use appropriate terminology as used by the specific organization.
Some of your prepared questions may be answered during the course of an interview. If this happens, you can simply state something to the effect that, you were interested in knowing about XX, but that was addressed during the interview and express appreciation for the thorough information you were given. You can also ask for additional clarification if appropriate.
Do not ask questions that are clearly answered on the employer’s web site or in any literature provided by the employer to you.
This would simply reveal that you did not prepare for the interview, and you are wasting the employer’s time by asking these questions.
Good questions are open-ended, and cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
If you are having trouble developing questions, consider the following samples as food for thought to help you consider your own questions. However, don’t ask a question if you are not truly interested in the answer; it will be obvious to the employer.
Your questions should show your own thought process.
- What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
- How does upper management view the role and importance of this department and this position?
- What is the organization’s plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?
- Could you explain your organizational structure?
- What do you most enjoy about your work with this company?
- How have various types of decisions been made?
- What are the various ways employees communicate with one another to carry out their work?
- How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
- Can you please describe the company’s management style and the type of employee whofits well with it?
- What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
- What is the company’s policy on providing training so employees can keep up their skills andacquirenew ones?
- What particular computer equipment and software do you use?
- What kind of work can I expect to be doing the first year?
- What percentage of routine, detailed work will I encounter?
- How much opportunity is there to see the end result of my efforts?
- How and by whom will my performance be reviewed? Are there specific criteria upon which I would be evaluated? And how frequently is formal and informal review given to new employees?
- How much guidance or assistance is made available to individuals in developing career goals?
- How much opportunity will I have for decision-making in my first assignment?
- Can you describe an ideal employee?
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Gabriela Lemos was born in Porto Alegre, Brasil, and was raised in San Antonio, Texas. She is currently a student at UTSA, graduating in December 2014 with a Bachelor degree in English. Brie states that she loves language and words, and the way in which people communicate with each other. She has always been interested and attracted to the autism community. “I find those on the spectrum to be incredible in so many ways, and I believe we can all learn from each other in our different strengths and weaknesses. I would love to use my talents to aid those who are not as strong in areas which I have confidence, and in turn receive an infinite amount of lessons and aid from those who I work with. Everything you send out, comes back to you, and I plan to practice sending out love and compassion every day”. We feel so fortunate to offer Brie’s talent of writing as well as her passion for autism awareness every week through our Aspergers101 Weekly.