Opening Doors: Implementing a Neurodivergent Friendly Recruitment Process

A diverse and inclusive company who is committed to hiring should also be committed to developing an accessible recruitment experience. With the objective to provide an equal opportunity to all during the job application process.

However, many employers worry that they aren’t equipped with enough knowledge to develop an efficient accessible hiring strategy and this is where the issue lies.‘s Joanne McDonagh and Brian Devane explain below why and how employers can help create a neurodivergent friendly approach to hiring.

Findings from a study carried out by Westminster ‘AchieveAbility’ commission for dyslexia and Neurodivergence (UK) found that 88% of neuroatypical candidates felt discouraged from applying for a job and for those that did apply 52% where left feeling discriminated against during the selection process.

Because of these insurmountable barriers, many candidates are getting left behind. Whilst many companies are currently focusing on a great candidate experience, are they forgetting about the increasing number of jobseekers that are unable to independently apply for these opportunities and therefore have already had a bad candidate experience?

Companies like SAP and Microsoft are already leading by example by running programmes to attract candidates with ASC. SAP launched their Autism at Work programme in 2013, across 12 countries where they use a month-long screening and interview process for candidates. This enables the recruiting team to get to know the candidates better and understand their preferences, so the recruitment process can be tailored to each individual.

In 2015 Microsoft began creating a programme that would offer friendlier interview experiences for autistic candidates. They focus on candidates’ social skills which is done over several days. Their process is part interview, part workshop. Despite the effort of these companies and many more, only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full time employment with research also showing the 77% of unemployed autistic people saying they would like to work.

Simple changes to your recruitment process can help create a neurodivergent friendly approach to your companies hiring. Here are four tips to help you get started:

1. Develop an encouraging employer brand

Make sure neurodiversity is highlighted as part of your organisation’s employer brand, for example within the diversity and recruitment areas of the organisation’s website. You may also want to list the employee resource groups you have relating to disability or neurodiversity. You could also include case studies of how individual neurodivergent employees have been supported and successful within your organisation. Such stories are likely to encourage other talented applicants to apply.

2. Create neurodivergent friendly job descriptions

Job descriptions are typically the first contact point a candidate has during the recruitment process with your company. Providing them with options like audio, visual (captioned) and simplified job descriptions (i.e. removing unnecessary job jargon and making sure the language you use is unambiguous) are a great way to ensure an unbiased experience.

3. Allow candidates alternative ways to showcase their skills

Many of the challenges that manifest during the job application process only require simple changes.

Allowing candidates to apply for positions by enabling them to express their skills and experience in alternative ways like providing an essay, a digital CV, video assignments or links to projects showcasing their skills are all effective approaches to the traditional methods that some candidates may find difficult to complete.

4. Adapt your interview process to fit individuals needs

During the interview stage ensure that the questions you ask are clear and unambiguous. Try to make the interview as practical as possible. You don’t need to completely change your interview process but just to adapt it slightly to ensure it is competency based, allowing you to get the best results.

It is also important to provide your members of the hiring panel with adequate training.

Remember to concentrate on the ability of the candidates, be open minded and focus on their skill sets and how they can get the job done. The more inclusive and accessible your company can be the more attractive your talent pool will begin to look, and your talented workforce grow.

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