Assessment Centres and Initial Thoughts

(Image is of a person in a suit holding a handbag leaping towards a hill with the word “JOB” on it at sunset.)

(CN discrimination, ableism, masking)

Hello everyone,

As part of my preparation for life after I graduate, I have been spending some time throughout my last year at university learning about the graduate recruitment system that I would have to deal with to get a job at a major employer. The workshop I attended recently was about assessment centres and what I would have to deal with. This is a long post hence it’s split into two pages however I hope there is something here that could help autistic jobseekers.

Please bear in mind that while I have not actually been to an assessment centre, I but I left the session in a meltdown. I felt that trying to engage with the typical graduate recruitment system isn’t feasible for me period. The very thought of it fills me with anxiety. When I have to deal with how inaccessible it is, I enter meltdowns. I already had this before when I attended a previous workshop on video interviews (and how some recruiters are starting to use AI to assess candidates) as well as another workshops on when I was asked to discuss my strengths and weaknesses.

I am going to discuss some of the major points brought up in this session, my thoughts on it and how they make the recruitment process inaccessible for those diagnosed as autistic and/or ADHD. Note that some of these thoughts will apply to other neurotypes as well as mental illnesses.

The importance of the telephone

This is a major accessibility issue as employers place great importance on the telephone to communicate with potential candidates which of course causes problems if someone is unable to use the telephone in any way. Allow me to elaborate further.

Employer expect candidates to call them to let them know if they running late for interviews/assessments.

A lot of autistic people have huge anxiety calling strangers which includes unexpected phone calls. If an unexpected event happens and the autistic person needs to cancel this demand may be impossible for them to do. This is especially important as employers will expect candidates to ask if it is still ok that they can arrive at the assessment centre at a later time. They may start the assessment without them especially if most other candidates have already arrived. If they are too anxious to use the phone, it is very unlikely that any other form of contact would be accepted. I would assume this includes texts and email as well.

Do not use mobile phones in the waiting rooms for interviews/assessments.

This also relates to issues with how telephones are often used for fidgeting, dealing with nerves or communicating with others. Alternatives for this could work like a fidget cube, but that doesn’t mean misunderstandings won’t happen. The expectations that employers have will include reading various materials in the lobby, watching videos playing on TV as well as talking to other candidates in the area (which can actually add stress for neurodiverse people).

Should phone numbers always be disclosed in applications?

This is something I wondered as a result of the workshop. Although it is expected that phone numbers are given on all applications as a way of being contacted, if somebody won’t answer the call due to anxiety (or another reason), what is the point of giving the prospective employer their number? On the other hand, if a phone number isn’t disclosed on the application would an employer disqualify them immediately for that? I don’t know the answer to that. Either way, this is a huge accessibility issue.

Body language

This is an area where many autistic struggle and employers assess how often you use eye contact as a way to help them assess candidates for their roles. The problem with this is that it negatively discriminates against those that don’t present in a neurotypical way. This of course ties into masking and is one reason why many autistic people learn to do it. However, there are many that can’t or refuse to mask and thus are prone to having their chance taken from them because employers judge them by fixed NT standards. In other words, the very process of recruitment encourages masking.

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A World of Possibilities

(Featured image description: Image contains a view of Planet Earth from outer space. Most of Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East can be seen during the day. The rest is in darkness.)

Hi all,

Today’s post will be more of a life update post and if you follow me on Twitter you’ll likely be able to work out what this is about. This blogpost will discuss some of my thoughts regarding my life after I graduate as well as discuss some of the research I have done already. Maybe you will learn something as well.

I have been worrying about what I am going to do after I graduate for a lot for the past year. This worry is something that I am struggling to deal with because I feel like I am running out of time. I am due to start my final year of university soon and there is of pressure on final year students to decide their next path in life. There is a world of possibilities out there for young people hence there is the expectation that university graduates will continue their path in life into the workplace or further study.

For me, making this choice has been very hard due to there being too many possible routes I could pursue hence it has been very overwhelming for me. Furthermore, the lack of detailed guidance for people in my situation has made it very hard for me to decide the best course of action.

My research and self-analysis so far have led me to the following conclusions:

  • I will require accommodations due to my disabilities – which includes working from home.
  • I don’t know what career I want to pursue that could feasibly earn me a living.
  • My disabilities limit what careers I can pursue.
  • I do not wish to continue education just yet as I need a break from the education system and would like new challenges.
  • I will have to relocate but will also need some level of support.
  • I also realised I am a woman while I was in Japan and would like to start transitioning in my final year (I am still mostly closeted at the time of writing hence did not want to talk about this on my blog prior).

As you can tell, I am in a pretty complicated situation. I am trying my best to get answers but it has been exhausting. I managed to get a careers appointment for instance but the advice I got left me with more questions than answers. This includes the confusing idea that I may be restricting myself too much. I am trying to pace finding these answers so I do not overdo it to the detriment of my health and education. I only have so much free time and the answers are not going to come to me as soon as I would like.

Due to being autistic, I struggle to focus on other things (including relaxation) until I have the answer that I am looking for. This especially applies when a dramatic life change is the subject at hand. Self-discipline and getting a work-life balance are important skills to learn as they are required in order to work from home. I am getting the hang of this slowly but it isn’t easy.

Some things I have learned during my search have been interesting though. For instance, I have been reading up on UK law thanks to some of the research that has been done and there is legal protection for all my marginalised characteristics. There are also various sources of support out there for me whom I can go to advice across the country including services I was not aware of before. Furthermore, there are also job sites that are specially geared towards disabled people in the UK such as Evenbreak.

Additionally, there are a lot more UK regulations surrounding working from home than I first thought (as outlined here). For instance, an employer would need to conduct a health and safety check on the proposed working from home space before any home working is allowed. Furthermore, planning permission and tenancy agreements may need to be made or altered depending on what the circumstances are. The employer’s needs also need to be factored in just as much as the employees which means the employer needs to see benefits of me working from home too. This genuinely surprised me and will only serve to complicate my situation as many employers will decide to retract job offers when I ask for this accommodation.

I do plan to seek further, more detailed advice in the future due to my very specific situation from a variety of sources. Until then, I will try to enjoy my free time before I head back for my final year of being a student which will be my toughest year yet. I am hopeful that I can find my way in life.

That’s all for today.

Best wishes,


PS. If anybody has any links/stories/advice to share written by people like me that were in my situation (preferably people who are trans + autistic + disabled), please share them in the replies! Thanks 🙂

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