• Cressida Stephenson

4 Steps to improve your recruitment processes for neurodivergent candidates:

1. How accessible is your careers website for neurodiverse candidates?

A large proportion of careers websites use flashing web banners, content, images etc to engage and connect with potential talent pools. On the one hand, this is a great way to drive traffic to your site for neurotypical applicants, however, for some neurodiverse candidates who are sensitive to flashing or flickering lights, it can make the application process that much harder, or worse still can deter them from applying altogether. Double-check your careers site. If you are using any flashing content, does the end-user have the ability to turn these off? Or perhaps avoid using rich media altogether.

2. Adapt your interview process.

This is an absolutely vital step in making your recruitment process more inclusive and accessible for everyone.

There needs to be a recognition that if employers genuinely want to hire neurodivergent candidates, then they need to adapt their interview processes to suit the neurodivergent talent pool.

Here are some best practice guidelines for employers:

· Be transparent and provide information about each stage of the interview process.

· Share with the candidate the names and job titles of each attendee, the scope and purpose of each interview stage and oversight of interview topics and questions in advance of the interview, to give the interviewee opportunity to prep ahead of time.

· Allow candidates to take their notes in with them, so they can feel as comfortable as possible.

· As some candidates have hypersensitivity to noise and or light (amongst a whole host of other stimuli) double-check with candidates that they are comfortable with the chosen environment/setting for their interview in advance if you are interviewing face to face.

· If interviewing via Zoom or Teams, double-check that candidates are comfortable with their cameras on as some candidates might prefer to have their cameras off as they might struggle with eye contact or they just simply find it an additional distraction.

· Constantly ask each applicant; “how can we make the interview experience more comfortable for you so that we can see you at your best and see you shine?”

3. Stop interviewing for cultural fit…….please!

Remember you are interviewing for skills fit, not personality of the year!

According to my DiveIn Network colleague Mark Palmer whom I interviewed last year as part of my “D&I in Recruitment 101” Podcast series, interviews are his worst nightmare; because “speaking to strange people in a strange place and promoting myself is the worst possible scenario for seeing me at my best”.

Mark is Autistic and one of the challenges he faces at the interview is eye contact. He struggles with maintaining eye contact and concentrating on the conversation at the same time and will stare at the wall instead so that he can listen fully to what is being said. He will never come across as being an extrovert with lots of positive verbal and social cues as the interview experience itself for him is an incredibly unpleasant one.

So, therefore, more than ever HR, Talent Teams, Managers need to stop interviewing for cultural fit and look for cultural ads. Interview against the skill set you are hiring for and not personality. Create assessments, that are specific to that particular role, but whatever you do stop interviewing for cultural fit and judging someone to be a good addition to the team because they maintained eye contact and smiled a lot!

4. Change the narrative:

Our differences are our strengths. We want to hire a diverse range of talent into our organisations, don’t we? And yet, most organisations are missing out on a huge array of skills by ignoring the neurodivergent talent pool. Why would you not want individuals who have incredible problem solving and creative skills, who display incredible attention to detail and have exceptional analytical skills? But unfortunately, all too often, these candidates are overlooked because they couldn’t maintain eye contact or appeared slightly awkward at the interview.

It's clear that this is a complex issue, but it is better to address the fact that we have a long way to go than to do nothing at all. The smallest changes in your recruitment practices can make the world of difference and it’s time that employers stepped up and started to focus on how they can be part of the solution in hiring a diverse neurodivergent workforce. According to Gartner,(https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/why-you-need-neurodiverse-talent) the commercial benefits of greater innovation, diversity and creativity are clearly evident within organisations that actively encourage neurodiversity at work, so what are you waiting for?

For more information on Cressida’s podcast follow the link here: https://edenchase.com/how-to-improve-the-hiring-process-for-neurodivergent-candidates/

Or contact Cressida here: linkedin.com/in/cressidastephenson