Let me explain the context first... I'm a programmer with about 15 years of professional experience. I've got and Autism Spectrum Disorder, what doesn't harm my professional performance (rather the opposite), but I'm always struggling with job interviews. The 2 things that make most of the problems are "show me how you are thinking" and "abstract puzzles". I just can't do them well enough, it's like asking a lame man to dance ballet. And both are totally irrelevant to the real work experience, actually.

I recon this locked me out of many jobs I tried to apply (actually, I fail something like >95% of the job interviews).

So, the question. I'm going to apply for a few job interviews in US companies (I never worked there before and don't have a residency, but I know a few companies that make H1B or L visas). Will it help to tell that I have ASD before the job interview, or this rather will make HRs even more paranoid? I just don't know what is the situation in USA wrt such issues; in my native country the answer would be "don't tell a soul about this".

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    A search on "Aspergers" here will find you many related questions, such as this one: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/27116/… Jul 8 '15 at 10:27
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    @Kate Gregory, the first answer is "you have to have good soft skills, if you want to manage people". I don't want. My job is 100% technical.
    – Lyfernally
    Jul 8 '15 at 12:58
  • @Lyfernally There are 10 other answers to that question, some of which do not assume that you want to proceed with managing people.
    – Beofett
    Feb 20 '17 at 16:53

Reasons for disclosing the situation in advance of the interview, but only once you get an interview, may include:

  • instantly weeding out the companies that are not forward thinking enough on such matters.

  • influence the interview process to focus on your job skills, perhaps by having them present problems to be solved (demonstrate skill instead of describing thoughts and processes).

Of course, not disclosing the situation may be preferable due to:

  • Discrimination, or in a more likely HR description, the perception that the work environment is not equipped to deal with such issues.

I'm going to suggest that you determine what the interview process is like at each specific company (via online research, asking for details, etc). If the interview process plays to your strengths then you can have some prepared statements for the fact that in your role you focus on skills X, Y and Z while avoiding other areas (due to preference and ability). In short, not a true disclosure but outlining the reality.

If you know a target company has an interview process that involves more esoteric questions that fall outside of your comfort zone, consider informing them once they have granted an interview. In this case have a prepared statement that provides more details than the verbal statement you'd use in the preceding scenario.

This way, you have two types of "reveals" available. A light duty one where you first try to steer the interview and a more formal one where you outline the issue and ask them to adjust the interview process. There are risks either way but once you have a game plan you can just follow it -- making some adjustments as you see how things work out.


You're right, there are several companies that will be reluctant to knowingly hire someone on the Autism Spectrum (they'll never admit it) and you have other complications with your legal status to work in the US.

There are several companies that are doing something about the hiring issues for people on the Autism Spectrum. Right now, the big companies are promoting it the most. Microsoft has a pilot program, but if you search the web, I saw a non-profit that was intentionally hiring programmers with Autism.

If you want to go this route, you may need to show that you've been formally diagnosed by a professional.

Also consider getting very strong references. These people need to go a little further and possibly make contact with the company you're interviewing with before the interview.

You may find that there are fewer and fewer companies relying on these abstract non-programming problems to solve. Practice writing some code and talking out-loud about what you're doing. Pretend you're making a training video or actually make one. Have a friend review it and ask questions. It won't come natural to you, so rely on preparation and practice.

  • 1. "Practice writing some code and talking out-loud about what you're doing." - absolutely impossible. I'm solving complex problems OR talking, never both at the same time. 2. I've already undergone tens of interviews, so I don't think any practice can help further.
    – Lyfernally
    Jul 8 '15 at 12:17
  • @Lyfernally, in that case, tell them inteh interview that you need to conentrate while working on the problem but you will expain your thought process when you are finshed and then do so. You don't need to explain why you work better this way, just that you do. This also let's them know you understnd that the expectation is often to talk while solving the problem. You want to find a company that values your way of working, so that would help find that company.
    – HLGEM
    Jul 8 '15 at 18:39

Why don't you wait for an Interview, and at the interview if you are thrown a question or a task that you are unable to do due to your condition, you might then let the interviewer know that your LSD does not permit you to do the said task well but you are excellent at your job. Then, tell them about a few instances where you excelled at your current job.

I don't see any reason to tell them beforehand or even at the interview if everything is going well. If you get the job though, make sure to tell the HR and your direct reporting boss of the condition to avoid any future issues.

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    1. My profession doesn't involve any tasks I'm unable to do due to my condition, never ever. 2. ASD, not LSD. 3. Doing my job is not a problem at all. Job interviews are.
    – Lyfernally
    Jul 8 '15 at 8:53

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