Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program: Could There Be an Opportunity for You?
What is the Autism Hiring Program?
Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program, which began in 2015, is designed to recruit individuals on the autism spectrum and open doors for long-term career opportunities. In order to better accommodate applicants on the spectrum, the interview process is modified to highlight candidates’ abilities rather than limitations. Microsoft recognizes the incredible talent and creativity that autistic individuals have to offer, crediting their diverse workforce to why they continue to lead in innovation.
Through this program, Microsoft hopes to create meaningful, fulfilling jobs for their employees and foster an overall inclusive environment. Beyond the hiring process, Microsoft also works to educate their workforce about neurodiversity and incorporate the perspectives of their autistic employees into every part of the company. By doing so, their products can better reflect the diversity of their customers and truly be created for everybody. Please read on to learn more about the interview process, popular job opportunities, and success stories.
How Does the Interviewing Process Work?
One major boundary between individuals on the spectrum and successful employment can be the interview process. Candidates have reported that typical interviews with high social expectations can leave them feeling stressed and misunderstood. Microsoft recognizes that this boundary was not allowing potential employees with autism to showcase themselves on an equal playing field. This led them to revisit how their interviews could be conducted.
The regular hiring process at Microsoft involves back-to-back interviews, typically conducted in the space of one day. In the Autism Hiring Program, the interviews are spaced out over several days to create a more relaxed environment. They also involve multiple opportunities for candidates to demonstrate their skills. The hiring managers receive training about autism as a culture in the workplace, which helps candidates feel genuinely included both before and after the hiring process.
Here is an outline of the various steps in the Autism Hiring Program:
- Resumes are reviewed to see if a candidate can be matched with a position
- Those selected will be directed to an online technical assessment
- Candidates may also be asked in for a “pre-screening” interview—this will help assess their interest in the position, as well as their qualifications
- The next round is a multi-day skill assessment program, involving team projects, informal discussions, mock interviews, and coaching
- Hiring teams meet with potential candidates
- Candidate is contacted about potential full-time employment at Microsoft
Microsoft hosts Autism Hiring events four times a year. Plan your visit at:
Could There be a Career Opportunity for you at Microsoft?
Microsoft aims to offer positions to candidates that will best utilize their skills. They highlight various “hot jobs” which have shown to be good matches for those on the spectrum. These job descriptions are posted on Microsoft’s Inclusive Hiring for People with Disabilities career page:
Software Engineer: Software engineers dive deep into code and work with fellow programming experts to solve problems and build powerful new tools. You are required to think about the customer to ensure stellar product quality, and you provide technical guidance to program managers as they communicate user needs and product requirements. As a software engineer, you are dedicated to producing the world’s most advanced software.
Service Engineer: As a service engineer you will be responsible for planning, project management, documenting processes, developing specs, and providing status updates on all release-to-web activities. This highly visible role will have you working closely with other disciplines including software engineers, program managers, partners, business groups, and data center engineering teams.
Data Scientist: We are looking for highly motivated and passionate data scientist to apply rigorous scientific methodology and algorithms to data in order to improve Microsoft devices, operating systems, and services. We provide unique insight into business and customer scenarios that cut across organizational boundaries and are leading the growth of a data-driven culture within Microsoft.
Other popular jobs for autistic employees include build engineer, lab engineer, and data analyst. For full descriptions of each position, please visit:
If you don’t feel as though these positions reflect your skills, you can submit your resume to be considered for other positions. If you are interested in applying to the program, you can email your resume to: firstname.lastname@example.org. The program is actively seeking new candidates to apply.
Who Has Found Success Through the Autism Hiring Program?
Another success story is Philip Jarvis, who landed a job at Microsoft in 2015 through the Autism Hiring Program. Jarvis works as a software engineer for Microsoft HoloLens, which is the world’s first self-contained holographic computer. Striving to enhance the quality of HoloLens, Jarvis analyzes data in order to improve the interactive features of the product.
Jarvis felt enthusiastic about working for Microsoft for many years. After graduating from college, he applied to multiple positions in the company through regular channels like campus recruiters and online listings. However, he felt some social disconnect between him and the interviewers because of his Asperger’s Syndrome. After several unsuccessful attempts to work at Microsoft, he saw the opportunity to apply through the Autism Hiring Program.
Although hesitant at first, Jarvis finally resolved to try it out. During the interview process, he was asked to recreate an app from the Windows Store, which he had already experimented with in his free time. Overall the program went very smoothly, but Jarvis did feel a moment of nervousness when he couldn’t answer an interview question. Later in the day, he continued brainstorming, realized the correct algorithm, and emailed it to his interviewer. Soon after this Jarvis was recruited to work for HoloLens.
Reflecting back on his experience, Jarvis believes the program allowed him to play to his strengths and gave him space to mess up. After the hiring team got to know him, they picked up on his incredible attention to detail and his passion for the project. Without the program, Microsoft may never have appreciated the talent and drive of someone like Jarvis. A dedicated member of the team, Jarvis says what he appreciates most is “knowing that this is the future, and we’re working to make sure it’s as good as it can be.”
Joey Chemis was recruited by Microsoft through the Autism Hiring Program. With three degrees in mathematics, applied math, and statistics, Chemis utilizes his skills as a data scientist for Worldwide Operations. He specializes in “predictive analytics,” a growing field which studies patterns to create predictions about the future.
During Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Events, which occur four times a year, Chemis has the opportunity to connect with new potential hires. He shares information about the multi-step hiring process, offers insight into the company culture, and shares his unique experience as a data scientist. Speaking highly of the working environment, Chemis highlighted the space he is given to experiment and make mistakes along the way.
Chemis also appreciates the inclusive working culture and Microsoft’s push to create products designed for all. “You can’t develop a product for one person, you have to develop it for everybody,” Chemis explained. “That means that you have to bring everybody into Microsoft to let them work on these products. And you have to have people of all walks of life, all backgrounds, all varieties, all disabilities. And if you’re missing something, then your product won’t be ready for everybody in the world.”
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