Applying for jobs is a hell designed specifically to torment autistic people. Here is a well-paying task which you know in your heart and soul if they just gave you a desk and left you alone and allowed you to do it you would sit there and be more focused and enthusiastic and excellent at it than anyone else in the building. However, before they allow you to perform the task, you must pass through 3-4 opaque social crucibles where you must wear uncomfortable clothes and make eye contact while everyone expects you to lie, but not too much (no one is ever clear exactly how much lying is expected, “over” honesty is however penalized). You are being judged almost entirely on how well you understand these very specific and unclear rules that no one has explained. None of this has anything to do with your ability to perform the desired task.

It is hell! I want to acknowledge that the original point of the post is NOT fixed by my providing solutions (the way jobs are filled makes no sense), but also I want to leave some notes for folks struggling with these unspoken rules. 

Some brief notes on the correct kinds of “LYING”:

  • Always use “I” expressions, instead of “we”:
    1. eg “I created a solution to a recurring problem by doing [x].”, even if it was really you and two others in a group
    2. If you LED the group (or did project-management), you can say, “I led a team to create a solution to a recurring problem by doing [x].”
    3. This is because employers like to know that YOU can do, and they also value team-leadership. If you say “we”, they may stop you and ask what You did specifically. You can avoid this by just saying “I”.
  • Someone asks if you have experience in a program (like excel):
    1. If you feel confident using it:  “Yes, I am very proficient.”
    2. If you have used it a few times, and could at least google what to do next: “Yes, I have good experience.”
    3. If you don’t have any experience: “I have used it before. I generally pick up programs very fast, and I’m a quick learner.”
  • Mistakes (some interviewers may ask about a time you made a mistake, or a weakness of yours):
    1. Good answers are those with solutions.
    2. Bad answer examples:  “Sometimes I don’t catch mistakes before sending things.”  OR  “I don’t like working with other people”
    3. Good answer examples:  “I had a problem catching typos, so I implemented steps that force me to check my work.”  OR  “I prefer to do things on my own so I know it’s done right, but I’m working on trusting my teammates to take on pieces as well.”
  • Someone asks if you’ve ever led a team / managed a project:

    1. Try to say YES to this question (even if it is a lie)
    2. If you have, say yes, and say how many people were on the team. 
    3. If you haven’t, but you played a large role in a group of people, say yes, and talk about your primary role on the team. 
    4. If you haven’t, but you worked solo on something that needed input from other people, say yes, and say what the project was about. 


  • Misc Rules
    1. You can ask people to repeat interview questions
    2. You can write down interview questions while they’re asking (write the basics of the question down for yourself, like the top things you have to answer). People will wait for you to finish writing, you don’t have to answer Immediately.
    3. Try to keep your answer to questions somewhere between 30 seconds to 1 minute and 30 seconds. You don’t have to time it, but if you find that your answers are taking 3 minutes, you might lose interest.
  • Have a list of projects / bragging points to talk about in advance
    1. Try to make sure they at least answer the core question asked, don’t just bring up a completely unrelated topic
    2. Example: if you are really excited to talk about a program you wrote, and someone asks about balancing projects, you can say you are good at AUTOMATION, and an example is this program you wrote
  • “Do you have any questions for us?” (A question asked at the end of most interviews.)
    1. “What has been your favorite part of working at [company]?”
    2. “What’s been your favorite project to work on?”
    3. People like talking about themselves
  • Thank you emails
    1. Some employers care if you send them a thank you “letter” (email). Sometime by the end of the day (you can do it right after the interview if you think you’ll forget), send a thank you email like this (you can look up other templates, or ask a friend for help):
    2. Subject Line:  Thank You
    3. “Hi [interviewer name],
      It was great speaking with you. Hearing more about the role, as well as what you said about [their answer to a question you asked them] has made me even more excited for this opportunity.
      Thank you for your time today,
      [Your Name]

    Good luck!!

    Having spent the last two decades in an office job here’s the trick with interviews: While some familiarity with the skills listed on the job requisition is nice, that’s really just the bare minimum. A lot of office work is force multiplication: You do a little bit effort so a lot of other people can also do their jobs.

    A lot of that effort is just talking, making sure people know where they can get docs/how they can do the things they are doing/why we decided to do things this way. The Job Interview is REALLY for that. That’s why people are always talking about a “good fit” in job interviews.

    But you might ask: “Tev if I’m doing this, won’t that mean I’m not getting any of my real, assigned work done!? And yes that’s true, there are WHOLE weeks where I don’t get any thing that I wanted to do finished, but if I only get 70% progress and I help 10 other people each get 10% progress, things are still moving forward.

    That’s the point of a good job interview. Technical skill on as specific thing can be taught far easier than trying to teach someone the correct way to interact with other people in that particular office. You might be absolutely brilliant at doing something but you’re social skills are such a mismatch for the office that it ends up being not an enjoyable time for anyone.

    For example: a previous co-worker of mine was brilliant technically and had network and systems architecture skills that could run circles around most people I know.  The problem, however, was their personalty meant that they’d NEVER fucking explain themselves after making a decision. He’d decide something at that would be final. Sometimes, I as the person who understood that people need reasons, could actually bridge this gap but that also meant I was having to play Telephone instead of adults having conversations with each other. For other things, they just would not at all get done if he didn’t like it. After he was let go we spent years cleaning up both the technical and social stuff in their wake.

    The interview more looks at your personality than what you can do. This also works in reverse.