Welcome to the Autism Advantage podcast! I’m your host, Tom D’Eri, and my co-host for this season is Tom Sena. Throughout season 2, we’ll be chronicling the process of opening a second location of Rising Tide Car Wash, where we employ people with autism.
If you listened to our last episode, you know that we were preparing for a big event: a day of hosting around a hundred candidates in the search for the perfect people to increase our staff and allow us to open our new location. In this episode, we’ll talk about how that interview process went.
For our interviews, we’ve developed an assessment tool to score the likelihood that an interviewee will be successful at this particular job. The process takes 15-30 minutes and focuses on whether the candidate is functionally capable of working at a car wash. We knew that a traditional, conversation-based interview style tends not to let people with autism really shine, so we focus on hard skills instead. This also ensures that the candidate knows exactly what they’ll be expected to do on the job!
For this interview process, we sent out a few emails to our list. Through that process, we had about 60 people (or a little under 10% of the total number of the people on the list) sign up. We then leveraged other contacts to get quite a few more candidates.
Of the 53 people from our list who showed up, about 20 didn’t have autism. (If you’re wondering how to handle people without autism who apply, and whether you can be sued for reverse discrimination, tune into the episode!) Of everyone who showed up and had autism, though, we had a great success rate! Only four people were unsuccessful in the interview process, so we we were thrilled to be able to invite a bunch of people to the next stage of the process.
We’ll also talk in depth about topics including how we managed this massive interview process while the business was still running, how our scoring system ends up working out with our new candidates, and why we had visitors from UNC-Chapel Hill and The University of California, San Francisco.
In This Episode:
[00:27] - Tom S. reveals exactly how many people came in for the interview process, then Tom D. discusses exactly what they’re looking for in the interview process.
[02:25] - There is a very quick verbal component in the interview process, we learn, but this usually takes less than three minutes.
[03:19] - Tom D. explains the way that they created their successful interview process was through trial and error.
[04:27] - We hear more about the specific numbers of the interview process, including how many of the applicants came from various sources (and how many of those applicants actually showed up).
[08:32] - Rising Tide also worked with a variety of community partners for recruitment.
[10:19] - Tom S. talks about the results of the interview process. They had a very high success rate for the candidates that came from their community partner recruiting sources.
[12:13] - Those numbers say a lot of interesting things, Tom D. points out. He then explains how they handle the people who show up and apply for jobs but don’t have autism, and discusses whether not hiring people without autism opens up the company to lawsuits.
[13:47] - Of the four individuals who failed, two were physically unable to do the job. The other two were cognitively unable to do the job by not being able to follow directions or stay on task.
[14:33] - Tom S. talks about the logistics of running this large interview process on site while keeping the business operational and still washing cars.
[17:07] - We hear more specifics about how the scoring system works during the interview process.
[18:35] - Visitors from two universities came to the hiring event to study who was (and wasn’t) successful, and what the outcomes will be over the next five years. Keep tuning in to future episodes for updates on this research!
[19:54] - Tom D. digs into what he feels are the key takeaways from this interview process. He also takes a moment to rave about how many people they were able to take to the next step of the process.
[23:03] - What has been the biggest difference between going through the hiring process the first time, about four years ago, and doing it this time?
[25:40] - The most challenging part of the interview process for Tom D. was telling the four unsuccessful candidates that it wasn’t going to work.
[27:37] - Tom S. briefly touches on the next steps for the people who made it through the interview process.
Links and Resources: