Cultivating Neurodiversity: Building an Inclusive Hiring Process

5 minutes

In today's fast-changing job market, being inclusive is not only the right thing to do but a...

In today's fast-changing job market, being inclusive is not only the right thing to do but also a smart move. In this article, we'll explore the world of neurodiversity and share practical tips to make your hiring process more welcoming.

Neurodiversity is about recognizing the unique minds of people, including those with conditions like Autism, ADHD, and Dyslexia. For candidates with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), job hunting can be stressful due to the uncertainty involved. By making your hiring process more inclusive, you can make a real difference in supporting neurodiverse employment.

A recent report by Sparta Global in 2023 highlights that 87% of tech leaders consider neurodiversity a top hiring priority. However, only 21% of these leaders work for companies that adapt their hiring processes for neurodivergent candidates. 

Hiring people with different perspectives and experiences, including neurodiverse individuals, can bring innovation and fresh insights to your team. So, how can you attract more neurodiverse candidates to your job openings? 

In this article, we'll discuss practical steps you can take today, such as improving job descriptions, refining the interview process, and enhancing your careers page. Join us in making your organisation more inclusive and open to all.

Job Descriptions 

Lengthy and complicated job descriptions have been known to deter neurodiverse candidates from applying to your job. Having large blocks of text with ambiguous requirements can make it far more difficult for candidates to understand the opportunity, not to mention if they're the right fit for it. 

Consider the following points when writing your job description:

  • Concise list or bullet points of key skills. Include the essential skills of what experience this hire NEEDS to have rather than an extensive "wishlist". 
  • 'Excellent communication skills' or 'good team player' are often included as default skills, even if they are not necessary, and relevant applicants could deem themselves ineligible for the job.
  • Break up the text into paragraphs and use clear language / terminology. This not only makes is more visually appealing but also easier to read and follow.
  • Use a font that is more reader-friendly. Although there isn't one font that is shown to be the 'right' one, stick to something simple with clear letters/spacing rather than calligraphy stypes that are hard to read.
  • Include all key information about working hours, salary ranges, travel expectations, etc. This adds more clarity to the role and outlines expectations clearly to avoid confusion around knowing if they're suitable for the role.
  • Include detail outlining the recruitment process - how many stages? Video or Face to Face Interviews? This transparency can alleviate stress of the unknown and ensure the candidate knows what to expect from the process.

Traditionally interviews have relied heavily on body language, eye contact and other communication skills that hiring managers assess. It's important to remember that there is no "one size fits all" approach for inclusive hiring, and being aware of individual needs could be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful interview.

  • Interview preparation. Providing details of hiring manager names / LinkedIn profiles, directions to the office, format of the interview and questions they are likely to be asked, can help candidates to prepare for the meeting and reduce stress caused by uncertainty.
  • Be specific. Ask specific questions based on the candidate's past experiences. General or abstract questions can be difficult to interpret and they may interpret this literally or only provide Yes/No answers. E.g., a response to "How did you find your last job?" may result in "I looked on a map". Prompting the candidate with specific follow-up questions will help extract more information and gain a clearer picture of their experience and skillset.
  • Be aware that eye contact may be fleeting or prolonged. Neurodiverse candidates can struggle with understanding body language or maintaining the appropriate level of eye contact. It's important to be mindful of this during the interview as each individual is different.
  • Be considerate of space. If the candidate is interviewing at your office, providing a quiet and calm space for them to wait away from other visitors and members of staff can help candidates from feeling too overwhelmed in a new environment and ultimately perform better in the interview.
  • Gamification. This refers to modifying traditional assessments by adding a game element that can increase motivation.

Traditional assessments, such as personality questionnaires and cognitive tests, have been proven to disadvantage neurodiverse candidates. Game-based assessments allow the candidates to show their natural, unconscious behaviour and abilities. They can be used a strong indicator to predict cognitive ability and work performance.

Your Career's Page

Every company has a careers page on their website in one form or another to show open vacancies and benefits of working for your company. But if candidates are struggling to navigate your page, chances are they won't be applying and you're missing out on great talent in the market.

Using Accessibility Tools.

  • Having a visually impactful careers page can be really engaging for a lot of the talent you're trying to recruit. However, rich media with flashing or blinking images could be having a negative impact on neurodiverse candidates trying to navigate your website as they can experience sensory sensitivities.
  • Accessibility tools allow candidates to turn off flashing or blinking images as well as changing the contrast, colours and font size; giving this control to the person on the other side of the screen is a conscientious way of showing respect for their situation regardless of their abilities.
  • Clear Content. Your page may include multiple topics or articles on the same page that can be 'visually noisy' and compete for the viewers attention, which can be overwhelming; having clear content on each page will make it more accessible and easier to navigate for candidates to find the information they are looking for.
  • Screen Masks are a great tool that can be used to follow the cursor or touch to eliminate page distractions and allow candidates to focus on one passage at a time. This is available as a Google Chrome plug-in to add to a browser!

Audio Options

  • Large blocks of text or the style font used on a website may cause challenges for candidates trying to obtain the relevant information. By offering audio options for the text to be read aloud or videos describing the opportunity, you are providing a more accessible way to communicate the information on your page. This is useful not just for the neurodiverse but also visually impaired and disabled candidates.
  • Offering an accessible website to candidates with neurodivergent conditions gives them the ability to navigate and change the website to suit their needs and provide a more comfortable digital experience.

"Inclusive Hiring" is a topic that is widely discussed which is great, but not all companies put these into practice to encourage better accessibility for diverse candidates. Hopefully these insights can help to adapt the recruitment process and promote diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

To discuss how to make your organisation more inclusive, get in touch today.

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