Job interviews. Ick, ick, ick!
Imagine, someone with aspergers, not socially confident and fully aware of their shortcomings, competing alongside tens or hundreds of others. These others will mostly not have aspergers. They may have other issues but the vast majority will be ‘neurotypical’ and that means stronger social skills and perhaps even a ‘bubbly’ personality.
In my experience employers like bubbly people. They like socially confident individuals.
So many times I smiled, nodded and tried to persuade people that I loved working as part of a team and was great with customers. It was complete rubbish and most of the time they either saw right through me or just weren’t wowed by my attempt at social confidence.
It has taken me a while to discover what jobs are actually suited to my skills and personality. It’s important to try and match the job with your actual personality – not the personality you want or the one you think you should have! But let’s assume the job and company are just the ticket. What next?
Shaking hands won’t come naturally but it’s easy to get it right. The tricky parts of interview body language are maintaining eye contact and avoiding what I call ‘face freeze’.
- I don’t use direct eye contact. I stare at a point between the interviewer’s eyes which makes it look as though I’m meeting their gaze.
- Don’t stare but try not to let your eyes roll all over the room as the interviewer will find it evasive.
It’s hard to always know how your face is supposed to look. People expect your expression to react to what they say and to what you say but this doesn’t always come naturally either – hence the face freeze.
- Nod, smile, raise eyebrows – not all at once!
- Practice your reactions in front of the mirror (imagining your interview is happening), or practice with a friend to see what they think.
It may sound as if I’m advising you mimic the ‘neurotypicals’ and deny your true self. The idea is to reassure the interviewer that you’re capable of communicating and listening – which is true.
The natural tendencies of those with Aspergers syndrome are inclined to be misunderstood by those who don’t share our traits. That is why we need to adapt our behaviour, we need to translate and make efforts to avoid misrepresentation.
If you have any job interview tips aimed at aspies, or would like to offer an employers perspective, please add a comment!