In interviews, employers assess the suitability of prospective candidates for the job. As a candidate, I would also like to assess my employer’s management capability, for instance, the organization or team structure, work culture and equal opportunities policy. I have worked in circumstances I find it hard to commit because of difficulties getting along and adhering to the social work norms of the rest of the team. If beggers can be choosers, my ideal employer is one who possess the following qualities:
Strong leadership skills and clear vision
This is especially important for a job that requires me to work in a team and where there is a hierarchy structure. I hate it when instructions are inconsistent and dealing with team members with different personalities. The hierarchy exists, not to create barriers between the top management from the lower level. It dampens my work morale if I think that my views are not going to be listened or the work division is blurred and poorly coordinated. There must be a clear objective for meetings, which is not just an occasion for aimless patronizing talk. A good leader must be aware of the pitfall of groupthink. A leader must have a clear vision, which is something concrete that can be broken down into specific objectives. It is not sufficient to have a grand ambitious vision that is abstract in terms and only in the mind of the beholder. Not every boss is a leader and similarly, having a nice personality doesn’t necessarily make someone a good leader. Personally, I prefer to work independently but I do have the ability to work in a team provided the above conditions are present. Having a clear vision is also a pre-requisite for the next quality.
Ability to give clear and concise instructions
This might be one of the most important requirements for employees on the spectrum. Unless you bestow me with discretionary power, be clear and concise about what it is you want me to do. While I do not have to be spoon-fed, there is a distinction between “I want you to draft a proposal” and “I want to you to draft a proposal that focuses on the topic XYZ with clear deliverables.” The best part I enjoy about doing research is collecting the data and information because this stage tends to be clear and straightforward. However, how the data is going to be presented or analysed is another matter.
Provides constructive feedback
If after spending tremendous amount of time and effort to complete a task, only to find that it has been put aside without an explanation, nor is there even an acknowledgement of the effort, it seriously dampens my work morale. This is basic reinforcement theory, a discouraged employee is an unmotivated employee. Furthermore, it reflects the lack of leaderships skills and clear vision, after all, how can an employer comment about something which he can’t articulate clearly in words or has no clear vision about?
Flexible and open-minded
What is the employer’s attitude towards email exchanges outside working hours or employees with special requests? Is the employer acquainted with the equal opportunities policy? Does the employer have a valid reason for refusing a request for reasonable accommodation? If the employer expects every employee to conform with expected social work norms regardless of the nature of work, background and circumstances, this is hardly a valid reason. Now I have never disclosed my autism to any employer at the interview stage. First, there is no need to. Second, I want to be treated equally as the other candidates. Third, there is still a risk that disclosure might prejudice the chances of my getting a job even if the employer claims to adhere to the equal opportunities policy. However, I am getting so tired of the “this is how we have always done it so this is how you have to do it too” attitude and the assumption that everyone should conform to social expectations, I have increasingly felt the urge to challenge the system and to test the extent to which employers are willing to provide reasonable accommodation by putting myself forward as a test case. While I can’t blame you for not being aware of my needs because I have an invisible disability, how differently would you have reacted if my disability is made known to you?
Avoid last minute changes or notification and allow time for adjustment
Does the job require working outside office hours or complete tasks under time pressure? These must be stipulated in advance, in the job description and at the interview; if they are not necessary, it should be avoided. I am averse to communication exchanges outside office hours, it doesn’t mean I don’t work outside office hours, I’m merely averse to communication exchange amongst people outside office hours. The feeling is similar to my desire to be at home at the end of a school day. Communication exchanges outside office hours are akin to detentions and extra-curricular activities which intrude my personal space and prevent me from enjoying solitude. I pride myself on my ability to write and eye for detail, not dealing with unpredictability and time pressures, especially tasks which require meticulous research and planning.
If beggars can be choosers.