I previously wrote a post, "Should Your Teen with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) Get a Summer Job?" If you have decided the answer is "yes," you will need to prepare your teen for interviewing. Because teens with AS often have problems with social interactions, the interview process may prove difficult. Preparation and practice are key to making sure your Aspie knows what to do and say when interviewing.
Teach your teen to take deep breaths during stressful situations. Deep breathing helps your body and mind relax. It can help to slow the nervous thoughts and bring you back to the moment. Have your teen practice deep breathing at non-stressful times so he can automatically use it when he is feeling stressed. Let him know that as soon as he gets nervous at the interview to take a few deep breaths.
Talk about what clothes should be worn to an interview. A general rule of thumb is to wear clothes one step up from what you would wear to work and colors should not be loud. For example, if you are going for a job in landscaping and can wear jeans or shorts and a tee-shirt to work, you should wear dark slacks and a plain polo shirt to the interview. Aspie teens often have a difficult time understanding what clothes to wear because this is frequently not something they see as important.
Discuss what questions are common interview questions and prepare answers. While you won’t be able to have a list of the exact questions, you can prepare your teen on how to answer questions such as, what are your hobbies, what are your strengths, what do you see yourself doing after high school? Having a few sentences prepared can help your teen not ramble on when asked a question. Check some job interview sites for more common interview questions.
Find out as much information as possible about the company and who will be interviewing your teen. If he is interviewing at a local company, ask around to find out who does the interviewing and what type of person he or she is. Visiting the location, if possible, can give you an idea of what the company is looking for in employees, for example, courteous or hard-working.
Understand the job your teen is applying for. Doing some research ahead of time can help your Aspie better explain why he thinks he can do this job. Some teen jobs, such as working in a fast food restaurant or a retail store are pretty self-explanatory but you may want to talk about what some of the duties for the job are.
Talk about first impressions. Being on time and dressed appropriately go a long way in making a good first impression.
Review appropriate non-verbal behavior. Aspies frequently don’t understand or use non-verbal behavior. Discuss with your teen the importance of looking the interviewer in the eye, sitting up straight and looking interested and avoiding nervous behavior such as biting nails or playing with hair.
Practice, practice, practice. Role-playing interviews is a great way to get your teen prepared. Because everyone has a different way of interviewing people, it may be helpful to have several different people, such as different family members or friends, act as the interviewer. This will help your teen get used to different styles of interviewing and different questions.
Remind your teen that he isn’t going to get every job he interviews for. Let him know that even if he isn’t offered the job, it is polite to thank the interviewer for their time.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.