Employable meAutistic job seeker, Erica, who appeared in the latest episode of Employable Me, alongside Emily, our Employment Training Consultant, took part in a Twitter Q&A session on Tuesday 19 December. This gave our supporters the opportunity to hear more about Erica's experiences and what she learnt.

Below are all of the questions and answers from the session. 

Question: What tips would you give to someone on the autism spectrum on how to approach a job interview?

Erica: I don’t like it when someone answers me by pulling a face – they need to use precise wording.

Emily (Employment Training Consultant): Ask for the questions in advance. Make sure the room meets your sensory needs. Ask for questions to be clear and literal.

Question: In a perfect world, what would you be your ideal job? 

Erica: A singer! I sing in a choir. I like classical, popular, folk and rock – I have a repertoire longer than my arm.

Question: How did you feel when you were offered the role at Marks and Spencer? 

Erica: Ecstatic!! It was a very special moment and it was a job I was employable for. I am still enjoying it, it is great to exercise the grey matter.

Question: Are you still working for Marks and Spencer and if so, how are you finding it? 

Erica: Yes, I’m still at Marks and Spencer. It’s great, I’m still on the shop floor, putting stock out and helping customers.

Question: If there were one thing that you would like all employers to know about autism/autistic people, what would it be? 

Emily: Autistic people have a great deal to offer in work and employers are missing out on not utilising the great skills and talents they have.

Erica: It can be a good thing that we get obsessed by things as it can bring a lot of focus onto things.

Question: What are some of the best and most innovative reasonable adjustments that you have seen an employer make? 

Erica: Brain in Hand support software is fantastic. It made a big difference for me. You can apply to Access to Work for government funding.

Emily: Employers have completely changed their interview process to experiential, rather than face to face they have also created a role especially for a person rather than try and fit them into a job.

Question: What do you think the Government needs to do to get more autistic people into work? 

Erica: Access to Work is good funding. I think it should be a legal obligation for employers to have awareness training for understanding autism in work and to display the certificate.

Question: What advice would you give to an autistic person trying to find a job? 

Emily: Think about the things you enjoy and you are good at. Try to find roles in similar areas. Focus on your strengths and the positives that autism gives you – such as problem solving skills.

Erica: I would recommend a work trial, then people can see you in action and see what talents you have. 

Question: What’s the best example of feedback you’ve been given after an interview? 

Erica: When I was on the course in London for Employable Me, they said I need to elaborate more about my disability, so that an employer can understand more about the reasonable adjustments they would have to make. Also ask in the interview, if they have heard about Access to Work as not everyone has. It’s a government-funded scheme. 

Question: Could you give some examples of how you use Brain in Hand? 

Erica: If things get too much, I can press a red button on the traffic light feature, which alerts The National Autistic Society, who then get in touch and talk me through my problem. Someone close to me recently died. If I remember this when I am at work I can get upset, so I also have lots of notes of what to do to calm myself – remember I was in a happy place before she passed, take a few minutes break etc. Reminding myself of nice things really helps.

Question: Have you tried other internships or work experience schemes? What were they like? 

Erica: I occasionally help out at a haberdashery shop which helps me practice using my people skills. I also enjoy knitting and so I can share my arty skills in there.

Question: What prompted you to seek a diagnosis in your 30s? 

Erica: If you’re autistic you get labelled anyway. I was labelled special needs & learning difficulties. The more I read about Asperger, the more it made sense to me that I had it. It felt good to know that there are other people in the world who rock & flap their arms like me.

If you missed the episode, you can now watch it on BBC iPlayer.