Perceptions of autistic and non-autistic adults in employment interviews: The role of impression management

Jade E Norris*, Jemma Nicholson, Rachel Prosser, Jessica Farrell, Anna Remington, Laura Crane, Laura Hull, Katie Maras

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Social communication and interaction differences can make employment interviews particularly challenging for autistic people, who may be less able to modulate their Impression Management (IM). This makes autism a relevant test case of the extent to which behavioral IM influences perceptions of job candidates.

Two studies are reported. In Study 1, lay-raters watched a video of autistic and non-autistic mock candidates’ interviews, and assessed their verbal, non-verbal, and para-verbal behaviors, and likelihood of social approach/avoidance. In Study 2, the presence of behavioral cues was manipulated by using either the interview videos (behavioral cues present) or transcripts (cues absent). Employers rated their overall impression of the candidates (e.g., perceived confidence, conscientiousness, competence, communication skills, etc).

In study 1, autistic candidates were perceived as having a more monotonous tone of voice, being less composed and focused, and displaying less natural eye contact and gestures than their non-autistic counterparts, and received lower ratings for likelihood of social approach. For non-autistic interviewees, relationships were also found between ratings for verbal, para-verbal, and non-verbal behaviors, and social awkwardness and attractiveness. In study 2, non-autistic (but not autistic) interviewees received higher ratings of their confidence and communication skills when assessed by video than by transcript, but this advantage was not found for the autistic candidates.

Results indicate that observers may use different information when evaluating autistic compared with non-autistic interviewees, possibly due to qualitative differences in behavior. Implications of different behavioral presentations in autistic candidates are discussed, including the potential benefits of using transcripts or more structured interviews to enable recruiters to focus on interviewee answers, whilst being less influenced by non-verbal and para-verbal behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102333
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Early online date29 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024

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