Neurodiversity recruitment: How neuro-inclusive are your hiring practices?
Neurodiversity is high on most employers’ radars, but implementing neurodiverse practices isn’t just limited to current employees. To be fully neuro-inclusive, organisations must consider their recruitment practices to ensure they’re not missing out on highly talented individuals. So, neurodiversity recruitment is also high on the organisation’s list of priorities.
In short, neurodiversity is the concept that we all experience the world in different ways. The term has become synonymous with conditions like autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It covers a wide range of cognitive differences that are just diverse ways of processing information.
The latest figures show that just 22% of adults with autism are employed in the UK. As well as this, many traditional recruitment practices are geared towards hiring neurotypical candidates. These two factors combined help to give us an insight into why so many skilled neurodiverse candidates may be overlooked.
To combat this, it’s vital that hiring managers and human resources (HR) experts alike review their current recruitment process to ensure neuro-inclusion. So, organisations must ensure their neurodiversity recruitment programmes are accessible to all.
Here are some simple ways your recruitment team can transform your neurodiversity hiring efforts.
Job adverts can be lengthy, laborious and difficult to read (you only need to look on the Jobs page on LinkedIn to see that), which can be off-putting for any prospective candidates. Before posting a new job advert, ask yourself:
- Is the advert clear and concise?
- Are key details like working hours, essential skills and salary easy to read and understand?
- Is the advert clearly presented and free of complex designs?
- Are the listed essential skills all essential?
Consider if all the essential skills listed in your job advert are a requirement for the role being advertised. For example, a default skill often present in most job adverts is, ‘good team player’, even for roles which may be more solitary. That means that some individuals may be put off from applying for jobs they are qualified for because of the job description criteria.
Here are some tips to make the application process more accessible for everyone:
- Before applying for a job, it can be beneficial to let all candidates know how long the application process is likely to take. If it is delayed, you should keep candidates informed so they understand that it is taking longer than usual.
- If your application process is online based, can candidates save their application and return to it later? Some people will find this to be an easier approach than filling it out in one go. You should also ensure that online forms can be read out to the applicant using a text-to-speech reader or software.
- It’s important to limit unconscious bias during the application process. Most application processes will start by sifting through CVs but doing so can sift out neurodiverse talent. Instead, consider a scoring system by scoring the CVs against a set of questions rather than relying on specific criteria such as a first-class honours degree. These questions could pull out specific experiences or skills which may have been overlooked and focuses on the person rather than how well they can write a CV. But there’s nothing stopping organisation’s getting creative with their neurodiversity recruitment practices. Have you considered offering alternatives to CVs, perhaps videos, workshops or telephone applications?
Neurodiverse individuals often have highly valuable skills, but the traditional interview process works against them and doesn’t allow them to ‘sell’ themselves. Offering just some small adaptations to the interview process for neurodiverse candidates can open your business up to a huge pool of untapped talent. Here’s what your organisation can do to help improve its neurodiversity in recruitment practices:
Let candidates know what to expect:
- Interviews are daunting for everyone, so sharing what to expect can be helpful, such as what the interview process might look like, where the interview will be held and who will be present.
Share your questions before the interview:
- Allowing candidates time to prepare for interview questions can be useful. Often, neurodiverse candidates experience increased stress and anxiety when they are presented with new situations. So, providing the questions you expect to ask will help to reduce anxiety and promote a more comfortable interview process. It is also useful to allow the individual to have a printout of the questions they are being asked throughout the interview that they can refer to if required.
Adapt interview questions for neurodiverse candidates:
- Because of differences in social communication skills, people with autism are often disadvantaged at the interview stage. However, research shows that adapting your interview questions by breaking them up so you only ask one at a time and allowing the interviewee to give more precise information with examples, improves their performance.
Ask if the candidate would prefer to sit, stand or walk around:
- Some candidates may prefer the ‘walk and talk’ approach rather than the traditional sitting at a desk interview. Ask the individual which they would feel more comfortable with.
Find ways to allow the person to demonstrate their skills:
- Decide if an interview is the best way for a neurodiverse individual to demonstrate their skills, perhaps a work trial or an internship scheme may be more appropriate.
Provide a point of contact:
- It is important candidates have someone they can refer to if they have any questions during the recruitment process. Doing so ensures they feel supported throughout the experience.
Rethinking your recruitment process is an easy way to tap into the wide range of neurodiverse talent who have traditionally been overlooked for employment. Want to learn more about neurodiversity recruitment? Why not take our Neurodiversity at Work Masterclass?
Take our free Neurodiversity in the Workplace Masterclass
To discover more about neurodiversity and breaking down barriers in the workplace, sign up to our free, on-demand masterclass to help you increase neuro-inclusivity in your workplace.