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.