Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of VIT-TAY within the context of school-based transition services-as-usual (SAU). Seventy-one autistic transition-age youth (16 to 26 years old) were recruited from five high schools. Participants were randomized at a ratio of 2:1 to receive VIT-TAY and SAU (VIT-TAY+SAU, n=48) or SAU only (n=23). An autism spectrum disorder diagnosis was determined for this study using the Social Responsiveness Scale (2nd Edition) or via educational record. Feasibility outcomes included participant’s self-reported acceptability and adherence to the recommended VIT-TAY delivery curriculum. Effectiveness outcomes included job interview skill as assessed by a mock interview rating scale, and self-reports of job interview self-efficacy, training motivation, and anxiety. Participants also provided their assessment of VIT-TAY acceptability. Local teachers trained and supervised students using VIT-TAY.
Results: Participants randomized to use VIT-TAY reported the tool to be highly acceptable (m=20.36, sd=4.26; range 7 to 25) with high adherence as 72.1% of participants completed at least 13 of the recommended 15 interviews. Overall participants completed m=15.3 (sd=5.4) virtual interviews and m=206.91 (sd=84.60) minutes with the virtual hiring managers. Regarding effectiveness outcomes, we observed two significant group-by-time interactions revealing that VIT-TAY+SAU, as compared to SAU only, had medium-to-large effect size improvements between pre-test and post-test on a global impression rating of job interview skill (p = 0.008; η p2 = 0.10) and on a total score across 11 job interview skill domains (p < 0.001; η p2 = 0.15). We also observed that VIT-TAY+SAU, as compared to SAU only, had greater reduction in job interview anxiety between pre-test and post-test (p=0.058; η p2 = 0.053). No group differences over time were observed for job interview self-efficacy or motivation to train.
Conclusions and Implications: The delivery of evidence-based job interviewing training is a major gap in transition services for autistic transition-age youth. Our feasibility and initial effectiveness trial suggests participants adhered to the training and viewed VIT-TAY as highly acceptable. Moreover, the VIT-TAY trainees experienced enhanced job interview skills and to a lesser degree reduced job interview anxiety. Thus, VIT-TAY has the potential to help fill a major gap in federally-mandated transition services and a larger validation trial is needed. Future research is also needed to examine whether VIT-TAY adherence may translate into a greater likelihood for competitive employment.