Understanding interviews and the selection process

The selection element of the jobsearch process can feel critical. Often it is the first time you will meet your prospective employer and it is almost certainly the most nerve-wracking phase. However, if you have got to this point, it is a sign that the employer is interested in you. They are giving up some of their precious time to get to know you. This should give you confidence.

The interview is the most common form of candidate selection – you can ask about an alternative as a Reasonable Adjustment

Some experts say that employers only interview candidates who they know can do the job and that the interview process is to help them decide which of the candidates to appoint.

Interviews are the most common way of selecting people for longer work placements, internships and jobs. Some employers use other methods to select candidates, such as assessments or work trials. You may be able to request an alternative as a reasonable adjustment.

The main challenge that I faced was communicating with people that I don’t really know, so it made me really shy. Therefore for me it made the interview process very hard.

Luke – Civil Service intern

An interview is a competitive process where the company or employer meets with you, either over the phone, by video call or in person to decide whether to offer you a job. Interviews tend to involve someone from Human Resources and/or your prospective manager asking you a series of questions to find the best person for the job. Interviews try to find out if:

  • You have relevant experience
  • You have the skills to do the job
  • You will be a good employee
  • They like you enough to make you a part of the team

I generally research a job well before I go to an interview so that I am able to work out what the questions are likely to be. That way, I can prepare answers.

Kevin – Autistic employee

An interview is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the company and the people who work there, so that you can decide whether you want to take the job if it is offered to you.

Not all jobs are filled through interviews. Occasionally, a person is offered a job, opportunity or internship having been approached directly without a selection process. This is normally because somebody knows them or is impressed by their work or values their special skills or experience.

Many autistic people find it hard to show their strengths effectively in interviews. Dean Beadle talks in this film about why interviews are not the best way of judging an autistic person’s ability to do the job.

Interviewers will probably be expecting you to describe your abilities and skills which is something that many autistic people struggle with, as they often prefer to focus on the delivery of the work.

If you can understand why the interviewer is asking about a particular subject, it can be easier to answer the question to their satisfaction. There is more detailed advice in our download on thinking about answers to common interview questions.

There are other ways to demonstrate how good you would be at the job without having an interview first which we discuss in the sections below.