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How to Disclose Asperger's Syndrome in an Interview

by Ellie Williams, studioD

If you have Asperger’s syndrome, you may worry that revealing this to prospective employers will make it difficult to find a job. While you’re not required to inform them, doing so can work in your favor, especially if you focus on how you’ve found career success despite the challenges associated with your condition.

Only Disclose What You Must

You’re not legally obligated to disclose a medical condition or disability to a potential employer, and under federal law, an employer can’t ask for details. However, if you know your Asperger’s affects your job performance or workplace behavior, you might want to give your interviewer a heads-up. Many employers will appreciate your honesty, and, by disclosing your condition, you’ll be protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. If you discuss your Asperger’s, you don’t have to explain personal details such as medical treatment or therapy, when you were diagnosed or other specifics.

Focus on Job Performance

You don’t need to list every symptom or describe how Asperger’s affects your personal or social life. Instead, focus on the impact it has on your job performance or on any special accommodations you’ll need. For example, tell the interviewer you sometimes have difficulty navigating social situations and may need coaching from your supervisor. Or, explain that it’s difficult for you to prioritize tasks and that you might need to meet with your boss to review deadlines and progress.

Keep It Positive

Don’t go into extensive detail regarding your Asperger’s syndrome. Limit your explanation to a sentence or two, and then quickly shift the discussion toward how you successfully manage your condition. For example, tell the interviewer that your Asperger’s makes it difficult to remember verbal instructions, but you can easily remember things if you receive written instructions or if someone demonstrates them for you. Or, if you have difficulty remembering dates, note that by keeping a detailed calendar at your last job, you never missed a deadline.

Emphasize Your Qualifications

Deflect attention away from your Asperger’s by concentrating on how you’re a good fit for the job. For example, say “I have Asperger’s syndrome, which can make it difficult for me to prioritize or multi-task. However, I consistently received positive performance reviews at my last job and was quickly promoted.” Or, steer the discussion toward your extensive management experience or your in-depth knowledge of software, processes or other tools required for the job. If you present your Asperger’s as a minor concern, chances are the employer will see it that way, as well.

About the Author

Ellie Williams has been a journalist since 2001. Her work has been recognized by her state's press association and by her local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Williams graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications and humanities, with minors in French and theater.

Photo Credits

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