I’m not a quick thinker. But I am a slow thinker.
Yet I’ve found that the quickest thinking in the moment comes from the slowest thinking over many moments.
In college, PL 304 American Government loomed large in the minds of many History and Political Science majors because of a daunting assignment: the independent study.
It wasn’t just a study; it was an event. When the day arrived, you had to produce what amounted to an entire novella written from scratch, in class, off the cuff — like writing an entire research paper from start to finish within 45 minutes.
This wasn’t something I’d be able to do well within the confines of the class. So I used the one thing I knew I could do to produce this independent study essay.
In the weeks preceding the “event,” I wrote the entire essay beforehand. All 45 minutes worth. Six times.
After six times, I’d pretty much memorized—via brain, manuscript, and muscle—the entire paper that I’d be asked to produce.
So when the time came, I didn’t have to think on my feet to write out a A-worthy essay. I just used all that slow, laborious thinking and action to recall it on the spot.
That is my interview trick.
I know I’m terrible at interview scenarios. It’s a process not geared for those of us on The Life Autistic. Instant recall of narratives, scenarios, needing to act personable and often formidable in the slices of instants of moments. There are unknowns within unknowns.
So I prep like a prognosticating, predictive madman, on par with Borgesian characters whose memories would construct entire plays within frozen moments or the turns of leaves on the trees throughout the day.
People love to ask “Tell me about a time when . . .”
So I write down and speak to all the possible, nigh-infinite times when . . . anything would have happened. All the conversations, failures, learning opportunities, actions, strategies, emergencies.
It’s an exhaustive and sometimes exhausting strategy.
But it works.
Even when it comes to the hypotheticals, the “what would you do for . . .” — that’s all a matter of planning, plotting, speaking to all the scenarios: change management, steering a ship, unfurling a business plan, and then some.
Know what else is exhausting for us though?
The quick thinking. The stress. The answers on the fly. Eye contact. Not using big words.
I’ll take the exhaustive approach any day.
I don’t always get every position I interview for. Yet apparently, I do much better than expected? More often than not, I’m getting further than I should be – like a super middleweight somehow holding his own against heavyweights.
And in fact, I just missed a position – where it came down to the final two people out of four hundred people. That’s not a bad achievement!
I brute forced it the best I could. 🙂
4 thoughts on “My One Weird Autistic Interview Trick”
I love this- it really resonates with me! I do this so often, that I don’t even think of it as a strategy (until now!) For every presentation, meeting, etc. — I am SO much better when I have time to think and write, vs. on my feet. I’ve always insisted that I am an introvert who just becomes exhausted after spending time with people, but perhaps it’s the planning and strategy that makes me SO drained! I’d never thought about it that way until now.