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  • Writer's picturemahlia-amatina

Alternatives to interviews for autistic candidates

We’re in 2023, yet I find it really shocking that we still adhere to the same interview structure from back in the dark ages of decades ago. Not much has changed and the traditional job interview has had its reign for far too long, acting as potentially discriminatory towards those who may not perform at their best in this format.

There are various alternatives available and a lot of this will ultimately depend on what the job is, and what is suited in terms of finding out how the person best matches and supports the job role in question. I would always recommend that the employer engages with potential candidates to see what their individual accommodations are, and whether they have a leaning towards a particular type of interview style.

As always, I emphasise this approach for all candidates, and using this as a benchmark for best practise all round.

Below is a list of suggestions for what may work for your potential candidates; but it is in no way prescriptive, nor is each method set in stone in any way. These are all different ideas that give the employer the chance to see how a candidate is truly likely to function as an employee, as opposed to the hypothetical scenarios which a job interview often yields. I wholeheartedly believe that by using any of these methods, and/or a combination of them, will help determine a person’s commitment and reliability towards a job and organisation. I would also highlight that just because you may be using alternates to the traditional interview, please don’t forget to ensure that clear instructions with a word and time limit are provided. Plain English should be used at all times with bullet pointed lists (if possible) in any instructions given. This will ensure that clear parameters are set, and all candidates are supported as best as possible. As after all, recruitment is supposed to get the very best from its candidates. Please see this list as a series of inspirational assessment types.

Remember that these ideas can be used in combination with one other, or as an adjunct to what you may already be doing.

1. An audio recording highlighting the candidate’s strengths and achievements: this is a great way to receive responses in a condensed way to what you’re essentially asking in a typical interview but without the preamble of anxiety for candidates that often goes with an interview. This also cuts to the point and is less worrisome for some. One of the great aspects about these alternate interviews is that candidates can suitably take all the time they need to prepare and record accordingly, and not have the time pressure of instantaneously having to respond to questions on the spot. 2. A video explaining why a person is suited to the role: some people perform well in front of a camera, which they can work on in their own time; they feel more at ease and can really get across their personality and skills to offer. This is especially great for a role which may involve presenting, customer service and meeting with clients more generally.

Another plus about these interview styles (and others) is the time it saves recruiters, as staff can assess these recordings at a time that works for them.

3. A presentation demonstrating someone’s skills and experience: similar the previous two methods, a candidate can take their own time to show off an output creatively and visually in PowerPoint, or otherwise. I know as a creative, I really appreciate this option and, if feeling bold, I may add in a voiceover to demonstrate the points further. This is perfect if you will regularly need to use PowerPoint, and a great way to test that the candidate is competent in a particular program. 4. Pre-recorded interviews: this is where, instead of the typical face-to-face interview, the candidate records themselves responding to predetermined questions. Again, it eliminates a lot of the stress and anxiety that typically comes with an interview and enables candidates to respond in their own environment, comfortably. As with all of these methods, it’s about getting the best from the candidate, instead of putting them under undue stress and pressure. 5. Portfolio assessment: this is notably useful in creative industries, as it enables a candidate to really show off their work in both relevance and detail using real-life examples. Candidates can create bespoke portfolios depending on who they are applying to, and the industry, and may even have a website detailing their skillset and what they have to offer.

This is a fantastic way for an employer to accurately get a sense of someone’s creativity and past outputs in a very tangible way.

6. Knowledge testing: for a role that requires a degree of technical knowledge, a written or practical test may be appropriate as part of the assessment. A roleplay or potential scenario that may occur could also be used to test someone’s knowledge in terms of how they would problem-solve the task/s. The key aspect here would be that the assignment is relevant to the role and likely to come up in the job itself. There’s really no point otherwise. All these examples are trying to get rid of the arbitrary, and to make the interviews as useful as possible. 7. Work Experience: similarly to the point above, having to do a task or assignment related to the job itself, over a period of time, is a useful way to assess if someone has the knowledge, aptitude and personality for a role. Work experience could be anything from an afternoon to a week, all the way up to an internship, which may be over a period of three months to a year. It should always be made clear if this is being used solely as experience for the candidate or as a means to recruit someone. (Of course – any productive work performed as part of this process should be paid for at a market rate.) And remember that work experience works well for both the employer and the candidate as they can both see if it’s a good fit. It’s essentially a holistic way in assessing one’s strengths and skillset over a set period of time. (You can read more about alternatives and interview adjustments in our recruitment section.)

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