September 11, 2019
Following interviews with Theo Smith and Michelle Ridsdale, both neurodiversity advocates, we’ve created 4 top tips on accommodating neurodivergent candidates during the recruitment process, so you don't miss out on great talent.
The recruitment process is daunting for anyone, but neurodivergent candidates can face added challenges when going through the recruitment process. This can sometimes deter them from applying for jobs altogether. Here are our top tips on how to accommodate for neurodivergent candidates during the recruitment process.
When creating job adverts, make sure you consider common challenges a neurodivergent applicant may face when submitting their application. For example, a neurodivergent candidate can find it difficult to understand an application that uses unnecessary jargon. Cutting out the jargon or creating a simplified version makes it easier to comprehend, which would benefit all candidates.
In the advert, it's useful to share the types of working practices your business offers such as flexible working hours or remote working, private offices or an open plan office space. Making candidates aware of these factors up front means they may be more likely to apply, given that these factors suit their preferred working conditions. For example, someone who prefers a quiet working environment will be drawn to a role where there is an option to work remotely.
Above all else, if it suits your business, indicate that your company welcomes neurodiversity into the workplace. This can make neurodivergent people feel confident in applying and assured that they won’t face discrimination.
If you are signed up to the Government’s Disability Confident campaign, this can be stated on the job advert as an alternate way to tell neurodivergent candidates that they won't face discrimination.
We spoke to neurodiversity advocate Michelle Ridsdale from Australia, who told us that fewer than 1 in 6 neurodivergent people are employed in Australia. She explained that this is likely to be a negative impact of the traditional recruitment processes that leaves neurodivergent candidates disadvantaged.
Michelle spoke about her positive experience of using online tech assessments for technical testing in the tech recruitment process, as she introduced ShowTech at Readify. It can reduce the anxiety a neurodivergent candidate often faces by offering the option to take an online skills assessment at home. Face-to-face on-site skills assessments may create more anxiety impacting a candidate’s performance as well as potentially triggering sensory issues (such as light and sound).
Being able to take an online tech skills assessment at home can also build a candidate’s confidence levels, Michelle explains, as neurodivergent candidates feel more confident knowing they have proven their ability, helping to ease anxieties at the interview stage. Online technical tests as part of the recruitment process can be motivating for candidates if they have faced discrimination in the past when going through a more traditional recruitment process.
Only use tech to assess candidates if appropriate, where the skills test reflects the job role, as it often does with tech recruitment. Our ShowTech tech assessments are anonymised and rank applicants by ability, allowing the most talented candidates to stand out from the crowd rather than relying on a CV alone. This means candidates are judged on what they can actually do, removing natural bias often added to the screening process.
When inviting candidates to interview, Michelle recommends to always ask them if they have reasonable adjustments for the day or if you can do anything to make their interview comfortable. This allows the candidate to open a dialogue to discuss any needs they may have.
A neurodivergent candidate may request to be interviewed in a quiet room with no distractions, as too much information can be overwhelming and distract them during the interview. It's also common for neurodivergent candidates to be allowed extra time for interviews or assessments and for their support worker to join them if they have one. Again, this is something that they can request when asked about their requirements so this question mustn't be overlooked.
If conducting group interviews, Michelle recommended incorporating teamwork, as this type of situation is less threatening.
Finally, good practice to implement overall… only assesses candidates on skills they need for the role to give them the best impression of the job and to give you the best impression of their capability for a role. This removes unnecessary stress, that could affect a neurodivergent candidates’ performance. Neurodiversity expert, Theo Smith, talks about how traditional recruitment methods as well as the workplace, can often be like superman’s kryptonite to neurodivergent candidates.
For example, a neurodivergent candidate with impeccable coding skills may have trouble demonstrating these through more traditional recruitment methods. Traditional methods include over the phone, pen and paper tests at an interview or on a whiteboard in front of a panel of hiring managers. However, if you test the coding skills in a way that’s reflective of how they actually code, it could help the candidate’s skills to shine through.
For other job roles, this would mean finding the best ways to test your candidates solely on things they will be responsible for in the job.
Making these changes to your recruitment process can attract a wider talent pool as it makes the job market accessible to a larger group of people, meaning you’re getting the best talent!
But, don’t forget that successful neurodivergent candidates are likely to need adjustments in the workplace too so remember to keep the dialogue open throughout their employment to ensure you are providing them with a suitable working environment.
Read our blog post about how to support neurodiversity in the workplace.