Nothing about us without us
Who: Flower and colleagues
Journal: Autism in Adulthood
Title: Barriers to Employment: Raters’ Perceptions of Male Autistic and Non-Autistic Candidates During a Simulated Job Interview and the Impact of Diagnostic Disclosure
Autism Diagnosis in Interview
Autistic adults are overwhelmingly under- or unemployed, despite the evidence that autistic people can make exceptional employees.
Interviews are the most frequent method of recruitment, but pose significant barriers for autistic people.
Applied social skills (e.g. being able to quickly build a strong rapport with the interviewer) accounts for at least 75% of the evaluation of a candidate.
Autistic people report struggling with the social “niceties” of an interview, uncertainty in the level of detail required in response to questions, and are more likely to be literal and honest without downplaying weaknesses or amplifying strengths.
First impressions are formed quickly and are resistant to change; those who are perceived more favourably initially receive higher post-interview ratings. Autistic people are judged less favourably within the first 10 seconds of meeting than nonautistic people are.
Disclosure of diagnosis can impact this; those who disclose that they are autistic are rated more favourably than those who do not.
Disclosure can lead to improved awareness & accommodations, but it can also lead to stigma & discrimination.
In this study, 357 participants watched brief interviews, one with an autistic individual & one with a nonautistic individual. In one interview, the autistic person did not disclose their diagnosis. In another, they briefly disclosed this. In a third, they disclosed this and then provided additional information on autism. Then, the participants rated who was the better candidate.
The interviews were of four white males;
two were autistic and two were not. They were matched with regards to verbal comprehension, appearance, clothing, and age. They were asked 10 common job interview questions.
Video scripts for the three study conditions
The following candidate was found to have an excellent CV and relevant industry experience. Please watch the following brief extract from their interview. You will then be required to rate the candidate on a number of dimensions.
The following candidate was found to have an excellent CV and relevant industry experience. He has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Please watch the following brief extract from their interview. You will then be required to rate the candidate on a number of dimensions.
The following candidate was found to have an excellent CV and relevant industry experience. He has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism Spectrum Disorder does not directly affect a person’s intelligence or technical ability, but it affects a person’s communication and social interaction skills. People with autism may find it difficult to know the appropriate thing to say and when to say it, and may interpret language literally. Therefore, it is important to provide them with clear expectations, instructions, and feedback. People with autism also have difficult in interpreting other people’s intentions and behaviour. However, with appropriate guidance and understanding, people with autism can perform their job as well as other employees. Please watch the following brief extract from their interview. You will then be required to rate the candidate on a number of dimensions.
Disclosure condition (between subjects):
Condition 1: none.
Condition 2: brief.
Condition 3: detailed.
Diagnostic disclosure video (none, brief, or detailed)
Candidate A video: autistic or nonautistic (randomised)
Diagnostic disclosure video (consistent with first video: none, brief, or detailed)
Candidate B video: autistic or nonautistic (randomised)
Employability/first impressions rating
Hiring decision: candidate A or B
Candidate endorsement rating
Autistic candidates were given lower favourability ratings then nonautistic candidates after the interview. When there was a diagnosis disclosure, all candidates (autistic & nonautistic) were given higher ratings.
Nonautistic candidates were over four more likely to be “hired” than the autistic candidates.
Despite autistic candidates being given a higher favourability rating when the diagnosis was disclosed rather than not disclosed, they were still less likely to be hired than nonautistic candidates. They were more likely to be hired when they provided additional information alongside the diagnosis, but still at a rate lower than nonautistic candidates.
In interviews, autistic people undertake careful risk assessment when choosing whether or not to disclose their diagnosis. This study shows there are some benefits to disclosing a diagnosis, but in the real world, autistic people do still need to be cautious about disclosing as there may still be negative implications of doing this.
This study used white males in order to control for variability. There needs to be more research which includes autistic cisgender and transgender women and gender nonconforming individuals, and autistic people of colour.