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Barbour ABI Blog

Autism Acceptance Week 2023 – Job Advertisements and Interviews

by Lucy Hilary

When I was looking a new job, I saw a lot of companies use phrases in their job adverts such as ‘disability confident’ or ‘we are an inclusive employer and do not discriminate against race, age, gender or disability’.

When I applied for these jobs some would respond asking if I needed any accommodations at interview and others replied with a time and place without asking if I needed any accommodations.

The problem when you have a disability and apply for a job is if I need accommodations, I need to disclose that I have a disability. Imagine you really want a job but to get it you have to disclose your disability then ask for accommodations in order to perform well or feel comfortable. But also in the back of your head, hope that the accommodations you have asked for don’t seem too unreasonable or put you on the back foot.

What would help me personally and other people with disabilities is if an employer stated why they were disability confident. So what do you do to support employees you already?

  • We have managers who have been trained in neurodiversity
  • We have mental health first aiders
  • We have mental health days as we understand sometimes life can get too much
  • We have access to free counsellors through work

Seeing things like the above on a job advert would make me more confident in disclosing my disability at application stage but so far I haven’t.

The Interview

As an autistic person, meeting someone for the first time makes me anxious. I expect anyone applying for a job gets nervous but because I mask knowing first impressions count, interviews do exhaust me.

If someone discloses they are autistic, accommodations they may ask for (and these are a few) are:

  • Questions they will be asked at the interview in advance so they can prepare
  • Informal dress because they may have sensory issues meaning they are unable to wear certain fabrics, including suits
  • Extra time to process questions
  • Quiet area
  • A picture/video of the workplace they will be going to so they can familiarise themselves with the building
  • Not being held to eye contact
  • Clear and direct communication
  • Being told the number of people they will be having an interview with
  • One on one interviews instead of panel interviews

When interviewing someone who is autistic it would also be beneficial if you read some material from a reliable such as the National Autistic Society.

Be mindful that any sudden disruptions such as loud bangs or people entering the room unexpectedly during an interview may negatively impact the person you are interviewing, so allow them time to reorganise themselves and settle.

As mentioned these are just some of the accommodations that can be offered. What more could you suggest?

About the author

Picture of Lucy Hilary

Lucy Hilary

Researcher at Barbour ABI

Lucy has worked at Barbour ABI as a Telephone researcher for 18 months. Prior to this role Lucy worked in Telecommunications on the operational and connective side for a total of 10 years.

Lucy's move into construction came because she has a degree in Geography and she had hit the ceiling in communications. There wasn’t much more for her to learn so Lucy decided on a career more aligned with her passions.

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