For all interviews and assessments, arrive in good time, appropriately dressed, knowing who you need to ask for upon arrival and with your interview plan (if applicable) handy.

Since diagnosis, I have always been open and honest at interviews about my autism. This has generally not been a problem for me.

Kevin - autistic employee

Types of interview

Interviews happen in many different ways, and it is impossible to predict every combination here. You should ask beforehand for information regarding interviewers, agenda, location and duration. Sometimes there might be additional tests or assessments to undertake as part of the selection process. You may be asked to do these at home (normally online) or you may be asked to do them at the interview location before or after the interview itself. For more information on tests and assessments see our section above.

When you first meet the people interviewing you, you will need to introduce yourself. They may extend a hand expecting you to shake it. If they do, you should shake the hand firmly and make eye contact as you do so, provided it is not painful for you.

If you are uncomfortable with either eye contact or shaking hands, you should try to let them know beforehand

Some interviews may feel informal: more like a chat, than a structured conversation They might be just between you and your prospective manager. It may just be held at the work location e.g. in the shop or the manager’s office, or you might go out for a coffee to talk about the job. You may get a brief tour of the workplace and shown where you might be working.

Other interviews can feel much more formal. There may be more than one interviewer – usually the person who is going to be your Manager will be present, but sometimes their boss may be there, and often someone from HR is there too. In a formal interview you’re more likely to be in an office environment, and the interviewers may work with notes and score your answers.

Always ask for help. In interviews, don't be afraid to ask for a question to be repeated if you don't understand it.

Kevin - autistic employee

It is often OK to both take and refer to notes yourself during the interview. As a courtesy, you may want to ask the interviewer(s) whether they mind you doing so. 

The end of the interview 

At the end of the interview, the interviewer(s) will thank you for coming. You should thank them for their time and shake hands if they are offered, if you are comfortable with this. You are now free to leave unless they have indicated that you should remain. There may be several reasons to you to stay – it may be another interview, a test, or perhaps you will be told the outcome of the interview. It is important to follow the instructions you are given.

Helpful hints 

  • Listen to the whole question: Make sure you have heard the full questions before responding to ensure you don’t assume they’re asking about something else. If you haven't understood the question you can ask them to word it differently.
  • Don’t feel you need to rush to respond to questions: If you want a little more time, there are a few tactics you can use. You can repeat the question back to the interviewer before responding. You can ask the interviewer if they mind you taking a few moments to consider your response. You can ask the interviewer if they mind you writing down the question. Don’t delay the conversation unnecessarily, but equally, take a pause if you need one.
  • Breathe! Regular deep breaths will help keep you relaxed and provide enough oxygen for the brain to function effectively.
  • Try not to talk too fast: If you can talk in a calm measured way it will be easier to understand your answers. It will also help convince the interviewer that you stay calm under pressure – which is something that many employers value.
  • In group interviews: It’s OK to address your responses to just one of the interviewers. Normally, if you choose to focus on one interviewer for your response, you would respond to the person who asked the question, or alternatively (if they’re in the interview) the person who is likely to be your supervisor.
  • If you’re worried about being interrupted: Keep your answers brief… aim for 20-30 seconds.
  • Be true to yourself: Don’t feel that you need to lie or pretend to be someone you’re not. If an interviewer or employer expects you to act or behave in a way that is uncomfortable in order to get a job, then it’s the wrong job and/or the wrong employer!
  • If you are not sure if you've given enough information: Ask the interviewer if you've told them what they wanted to know.