Abstract: Initial Validation and Correlates of a Novel Measure of Job Interview Skills for Autistic Transition-Aged Youth (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Initial Validation and Correlates of a Novel Measure of Job Interview Skills for Autistic Transition-Aged Youth

Friday, January 22, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Kari Sherwood, MS, MEd, MSW, PhD Student, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Helen Genova, Assistant Director Center for Neuropsychology and Neuroscience Research, Kessler Foundation
Lauren Bishop, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Leann Dawalt, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI
J.D. Smith, PhD
Meghan Harrington, Clinical Subjects Coordinator, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Henry Wellman, Professor, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Matthew Smith, PhD, MSW, LCSW, Associate Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, MI
Background and Purpose: Employment is a major contributor to overall quality of life. However, autistic individuals are often unemployed and underemployed. One potential barrier to employment is poor job interview skills. Although researchers are evaluating job interview interventions, we have a limited understanding of whether the methods used to assess job interview skills are reliable and valid. Additionally, specific factors associated with job interview skills are understudied, particularly among autistic transition-age youth (TAY). This study evaluated the reliability and validity of the Autism Mock Interview Rating Scale (A-MIRS) and identified positive and negative correlates of job interview skills among autistic TAY.

Methods: This study uses baseline data from two randomized controlled trials (RCT) designed to implement and assess two different virtual interview tools for autistic TAY. A sample of n=85 autistic TAY completed a mock job interview, self-report surveys, and cognitive assessments. For the purposes of this study, we evaluated the baseline data across all participants in both RCT 1 and RCT 2. We generated the internal consistency reliability of the A-MIRS, a principal components analysis to determine if items fit on a one-factor solution, Pearson correlations to evaluate the intercorrelations among the 11 items that comprise the A-MIRS and the bivariate relationships between the A-MIRS total score representing job interview skills and the demographic variables and the a priori identified correlates of job interview skills. In addition, linear regression was used to identify factors that may be associated with job interview skills, and a mediation analysis evaluated whether job interview self-efficacy mediated the relationship between job interview anxiety and job interview skills.

Results: Our measure of job interview skills had strong internal consistency across all 11 items (α = 0.91). The final regression model included current employment, crystallized cognition, job interview self-efficacy, and job interview anxiety, which explained 26.4% of the variance in job interview skills (F4,80 =7.2, p < 0.001). Moreover, job interview skills were both independently significantly correlated with crystallized cognition (a marker for knowledge and life skills) (p < 0.01) and job interview self-efficacy (p < 0.01). Mediation analyses revealed that self-efficacy fully mediated the relationship between anxiety and job interview skills, controlling for the effects of crystallized cognition.

Conclusions and Implications: Nonetheless, the current study established the reliability and validity of the A-MIRS and used this scale to identify several factors that affect job interview skills among autistic TAY. While these findings show job interview anxiety may serve as a barrier to employment for autistic TAY, there is hope that job interview self-efficacy has potential as a treatment target for this population. The A-MIRS may be helpful when evaluating job interview skills in research and practice settings, and now suggests itself as a valuable tool during job interviews and for training purposes, leading to better employment outcomes for autistic TAY. Additionally, job interview self-efficacy, job interview anxiety, and crystallized cognition may be treatment targets for transition services aimed at improving job interview skills for autistic TAY.