Apparently there'll be hugging...

You know when you look back over those job interviews where everything you did or said seemed to come out wrong and you may as well have screamed across the table, 'Don't hire me! Are you insane? I would be TERRIBLE at this job!'?

And then the ones where you managed to pass yourself off as the perfect employee, said the right things and knew what they wanted to know? (We won't mention what happened once you started the job and had to repeat all this success on a daily basis).

When it comes to the workplace, most aspies have an eccentric approach to job hunting. The systems in place do not favour those of us who like to say exactly what we mean; they favour people who think first, weigh up the options, know the right phrases.

When a potential employer asks what you'll be bringing to their company, having resisted the urge to tell them you'll be bringing a packed lunch, you also have not to tell them how much better everything will be once you've sorted out their staff rota (not even colour-coded!), purged their outdated, paper-based filing system and transferred their database into those boxy things sitting in the corner that Gladys has been using for her spider plant collection.

The correct answer is something along the lines of how their company is just fab, that your amazing skills are a great fit because this is how you'll improve perfection by helping them become even more brilliant. And so on.

And when they ask you if you've faced any challenges, they don't want to know, not really. Unless you happen to have a triumphant story of your struggle to re-emerge from the Australian bush two holidays ago, they want some clever-sounding monologue on how work was kind of challenging but you overcame it by being a genius (just not as much of a genius as they are).

This silliness is something I've learned over the years. I can go into most job interviews and be who they expect and often who they want (I should offer training courses in this). Getting the job is a fun challenge, like The Crystal Maze without the death traps. It's keeping the job I find nigh on impossible.

But readers, soften your hearts for a moment, because now RT Teen is looking for a job and things are far worse for him. As if it wasn't bad enough before, now the interviews he will face are all about showing the real you by doing activities, group games (I'm starting to hyperventilate), team-building (...) and, oh, I'm sorry, I have to tell you - hugging.

Yes, apparently there'll be hugging.

Hugging?? Is this not some kind of abuse?

You go to a job interview to show them you can do the job and find out what sort of company they are and they make you hug each other? Cats are for hugging, not other job seekers! People are only for hugging if you love them, or it's the only alternative to listening to their problems. Or small children, they like hugging, but they don't know enough about people to have been warned off it yet.

Your competition, though? People who are fighting you for a job? What if you don't want to hug them or they smell or they look like they bite? What if they hug too long, for heaven's sake? Do they get a polite tap on the shoulder like a dance competition and then have to leave the floor?

Whatever it is, it seems to have very little to do with stocking shelves in a supermarket. For what it's worth, I have a feeling an OCD, non-hugging, efficiency freak may be more useful in keeping a shop floor tidy and running smoothly than someone who hugs strangers and can dance in front of a room full of people who aren't also dancing.

I have nothing against companies using new methods to find out if people are who they want, but really, is this the way? Perhaps if job hunters hadn't needed to fit into a pre-shaped box in the first place then everyone would have told the truth and been themselves to begin with and none of this would be necessary.

You know what, though? It isn't necessary. Just take those aspies who don't pass the standardised tests and who fail at social handling and put them on the other side of the interview table. We are the kings and queens of getting to the bottom of things. We will find out who people are and what they really mean and never need to hug anyone. Ever.

Unless you are employing animals, small children or unstoppable extroverts. Then you can get Bob from Accounting to do it.


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