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Rethinking the Interview and Hiring Process for Better Hiring for people in the Autism Spectrum

By August 30, 2023November 9th, 2023No Comments

In the ever-evolving landscape of hiring, it is crucial to reassess our traditional interview process. During my early years as a special education director, approximately 25 years ago, I had the opportunity to conduct interviews with prospective teacher candidates. I vividly remember the highly structured selection process we employed in the past. It involved multiple stages, from initial screenings to face-to-face interviews, aiming to gather comprehensive data about candidates. However, as our understanding of learning styles and communication skills has expanded, it has become clear that the interview process needs to adapt.

 In this blog post, we will delve into the flaws of the traditional interview process, particularly for individuals on the autism spectrum. We will explore alternative approaches, such as performance-based interviews, and shed light on how Mind Shift is revolutionizing the hiring process for the better.

What’s in a Word?

Interviewers often pose the question, “What two words would you use to describe yourself?” While seemingly simple, this question can induce anxiety in candidates, hindering their ability to effectively convey their strengths. For individuals on the autism spectrum, who may struggle with descriptive and figurative language, this question can be particularly challenging in a pressured setting. However, given time and the right environment, individuals on the spectrum can offer remarkable insights.

Consider the concept of focus. Many people associate individuals on the autism spectrum with intense focus and perseverance in their areas of interest. This ability to persevere through challenges and maintain unwavering concentration can be a valuable asset in tasks requiring precision and attention to detail.

Delving into the Latin roots of the word “persistence,” we discover its connotation of continuing with strength and organizing one’s actions despite obstacles or distractions. However, the term can be ambiguous, carrying both positive and negative implications. This ambiguity can pose difficulties for individuals on the autism spectrum when selecting two adjectives to describe themselves.

An alternative word that often arises in this context is “tenacity.” While persistence denotes the act of repeating a task until successful, tenacity encompasses using new data and making informed decisions to find alternative pathways when faced with challenges. Tenacious individuals combine persistence with metacognitive processes, periodically assessing their actions, reflecting on new information, and adjusting their approach while maintaining their intense focus. This level of self-reflection sets them apart and enhances their problem-solving capabilities.

Rethinking the Interview Process

As employers, it is crucial to consider the questions we ask during interviews and the specific information we aim to gather. We must strive to understand candidates better and create an environment that allows them to shine. Considerations such as providing candidates with questions in advance or adopting a performance-based interview approach can help level the playing field and accommodate different learning styles and processing times.

A performance-based interview assesses candidates’ abilities through practical demonstrations rather than relying solely on verbal responses. This approach allows individuals to showcase their skills, knowledge, and problem-solving capabilities in action. By incorporating this innovative method, businesses can gain more accurate insights into candidates’ potential and suitability for the role.

At Mind Shift, we recognize the importance of helping candidates know themselves well and preparing them for interviews. We work closely with businesses to provide valuable tools and knowledge, enabling them to obtain the most accurate information during the hiring process. Our mission is to revolutionize the way businesses approach hiring, ensuring that the right individuals are selected based on their true abilities and potential.

The interview process is a critical component of the hiring process. By reevaluating our traditional approach and embracing alternatives like performance-based interviews, we can create a more inclusive and effective hiring process. It is essential to consider the unique challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum and adapt our methods accordingly. Mind Shift is at the forefront of this movement, collaborating with businesses to transform their hiring practices and unlock the untapped potential of candidates. Let us join hands in making a difference and shaping a future where everyone’s abilities are recognized and valued.