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5 ways to alter your interview process for neurodiverse candidates

​Do you place more value on an interviewee who looks you in the eye and gives a firm handshake?

Unfortunately, a traditional interview process is not designed with neurodiversity in mind, meaning that hiring managers may not consider neurodiverse candidates even when they have the necessary skills and knowledge.

Amending your recruitment processes to reach a talent pool that you didn’t appreciate previously has the long-term potential of increasing performance and strengthening company culture with a competitive edge.

The Office of National Statistics show that only 16% of autistic adults are employed. Marry this with the fact that many standard recruitment practices (such as the use of technology to assess social skills) can disadvantage neurodiverse candidates. Of course, this further supports the fact that we must put a lot more focus on the representation of neurodiverse candidates in our recruitment processes, across all industries.

According to the CIPD (the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development), neurodiverse individuals are the most innovative of all employee groups. This means that neurodiverse individuals can be great problem solvers, lateral and innovative thinkers, strategy creators and trouble shooters – all important and valuable employee traits.

It’s clear the barriers to employment are still evident and here are 5 considerations for your hiring managers review to ensure qualified candidates are not inadvertently filtered out or passed over due to neurodiversity:

  1. Consider the environment. Noisy, distracting settings can be uncomfortable for those with sensory processing issues. Choose a quiet location without harsh lighting or strong odours.

  2. Avoid large groups. Neurodiverse candidates may find elements of social interaction challenging, particularly in a larger group setting. If your interview process includes several people, consider scheduling separate interviews.

  3. Be direct. Asking direct questions will be more successful, as people with autism respond well to questions related to things they have actually experienced, rather than situations that may not appear to relate to the job responsibilities. Using closed questions that focus on the candidate's actual experiences and tangible processes rather than open-ended or vague questions.

  4. Focus on skills. Many reporting success with interviewing and hiring neurodiverse employees are using skills-based methods, such as cognitive assessments or a work trial, which provide the benefit of focusing on the applicant's ability to perform the specific tasks.

  5. Be patient. Neurodiverse candidates may take longer to consider how to answer questions, particularly if they are not direct so be patient before jumping in to clarify or prompt. We would also recommend providing the interview questions in advance – this ensures that all candidates can perform at their best – interviews should not be a way of ‘catching people out’.