6 Things That CEOs Will Use to Weed Out an Autistic Candidate

I would like to use this wonderful list of 9 Things That CEOs Look For In a Job Candidate to demonstrate the problems we on the spectrum have with even getting a job.

  1. Intelligence This is usually not a problem with people on the spectrum who can look for a job. Here we’re good.
  2. Attitude — Oftentimes people on the spectrum come across as negative. Or over-enthusiastic. Or both. We very often come across as having some sort of “attitude problem.” We don’t, but we also don’t necessarily know how to appropriately communicate our actual attitude.
  3. Motivation — One certainly wishes that this were gotten to in interviews, because the motivation of pretty much every autistic person is to work. We are dedicated, focused to the point of obsession, hard workers. We have a great deal of intrinsic motivation.
  4. Experience — We often don’t have a lot of experience because nobody will hire us.
  5. Cultural fit — Unless the culture is “autism,” we almost certainly won’t fit into your current culture. But there’s a good chance that we will change that culture. Or get fired because of it. We want to work, not fit into a social environment.
  6. Commitment — Hire us and you won’t get rid of us.
  7. Personality — There’s a good chance that we won’t be particularly likable in a first impression, and there’s a good chance you won’t get our sense of humor–or experience it in the interview. If you experience mine, it’s because I’m nervous. Let’s face it, we on the spectrum don’t come across as amiable people, and our personalities can be off-putting.
  8. Good references — If the references are from teachers, especially graduate school professors, we’ll probably do well. If it is from co-workers or former employees, we probably won’t.
  9. Ability to admit failures — Hire us so we can have some failures to learn from. Further, our failures tend to come from external sources and don’t involve our work. Or our failures stem from things we literally cannot help and which we necessarily will repeat over and over and over again.

We’re good on 1, 3, and 6. Two-thirds of the list will result in our never getting hired. Notice how many of these involve social considerations. 5 and 7 are pretty much purely social considerations. Nobody on the spectrum is ever going to be able to get through this list and be hired. As our insanely high unemployment rate shows.

This of course is how you get hired through the front door. And it’s why if you want a job, you ought to stop bothering with the front door. Get to know people doing what you want to do, then impress them. Sooner or later, one of them will offer you a job. The back door, the side door, the roof–any entrance but the front door is how you will find work. In other words, autistics will only get hired if they network. But that requires social skills . . .

4 thoughts on “6 Things That CEOs Will Use to Weed Out an Autistic Candidate

  1. Working is fundamental. This is a crucial issue. I know some wonderful and incredibly qualified people with terrible anxiety who never do well in interviews… but one had success when he sent some papers he wrote, as proof of what he could do, before meeting the employer in person.

    When I was younger, every guidance counselor would tell us to write on our CV that we were “a dynamic person”. My best friend responded once that she was not dynamic, and actually rather introverted. How should I highlight my own qualities, she asked? Well, write that you’re dynamic anyway, they’d reply, people love people who are dynamic. Same thing with “leadership” qualities. For some reason, you had to be a leader. But how wacked would the professional world be if everyone was a leader, and a dynamic one to boot?

    What useless stress. Workplaces should be a lot more inclusive. It would benefit us all. It’s not a question of people being ill intentioned, I believe people are good, they have a lot on their plates, and do their best. But things need to change.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Everyone talks the “diversity” game, but cognitive diversity is never included. Everyone talks the “outside the box” game, but what they really mean is “outside, but right up next to the box.” In reality, everyone is looking to hire someone just like them–not necessarily in appearance, but in the way they think and behave.

      Workplaces should be more inclusive–of radically different ways of thinking and experiencing the world. That would certainly benefit us all.

      Socrates said that the difference between a good person and a bad person is the latter one is acting in ignorance. That’s where things need to change. I can give people all my character traits, and people are more than willing to accommodate whatever issues are associated with them, but if I say I’m on the spectrum, then it’s suddenly, “We have no intention of accommodating you.”


      1. That’s true, cognitive diversity is not included in diversity talks.

        And people might want to be surrounded by similar people, it’s easier for them that way I guess (but a lot more boring and reductive!), although, just like my little story about dynamism and leadership qualities showed, professional expectations and “the spectacle of the interview” don’t even necessarily fit with reality. It’s all very frustrating. I’d like for people to be evaluated on their actual work rather than on their performance during an interview.

        And the difficulties you mentioned in your post are very similar to those being pointed out by several other groups who are not part of the majority (especially the “culturally fit” one) so changing things would definitely help a huge number of people.

        Socrates has said one of the smartest things ever to be said by a human being (if Plato got it right) : the only thing I know is that I know nothing. A humbling thought that should inspire many in these times. As far as good and bad people go, I tend not to judge people because I still think they do their best, but as the saying goes, “hell is paved with good intentions”, so it doesn’t mean that we stop there. People must be able to work and be independent. The system is built that way. These obstacles are unfair and counterproductive for society.

        Liked by 1 person

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