7 ways to support neurodivergent candidates in hiring

Jun 6, 2024 | Diversity, Home Featured, How-to

If you’re looking at ways to better support neurodivergent candidates in early careers interviews and assessments, Felicity Halstead CEO of GoodWork, offers advice.

Neurodivergence is an increasingly common area of focus among HR and DEI professionals, reflecting both increased diagnoses of neurodivergent conditions and an increase in requests for accommodations and support from candidates in hiring processes.

For many, this can feel like uncharted territory, where a surge in expectations from candidates hasn’t necessarily aligned with a surge in reliable information and conflicting advice can cause confusion.

So, if you’re just getting started and looking at ways to better support neurodivergent candidates in early careers hiring, here’s some food for thought.

1. Remember that there’s a huge range of neurodivergent conditions

Neurodivergent is an umbrella term, covering a huge range of conditions. There is no exhaustive list, but it’s definitely not just about ADHD and Autism.

You can find some useful information on other neurodivergent conditions here and here .

2. Ask candidates what support they need at every stage of the process

Candidates should never feel pressured to declare a disability, however some may realise later on in a hiring process that it might have been helpful for them to share information sooner.

By continuing to give the option to make requests for accommodations throughout your process, you can make this easier (and build trust).

3. Give examples of accommodations that can be made

We don’t know what we don’t know, and if it’s a candidate’s first experience of a hiring process then they may not know what to expect and therefore aren’t equipped to ask for appropriate support.

If you can give examples (such as ‘more time to take a test’ or ‘a quiet space to go to in case of overstimulation’) then you might help prompt them to think about things that could help.

4. Share as much information as you can in advance

I’m a huge advocate for sharing interview questions in advance for everybody, but it’s a particularly useful tool for neurodivergent candidates who may benefit from additional time to process questions and to help ease anxieties.

You might also consider holding a pre-interview or assessment centre webinar or Q&A session, sharing a detailed guide to what to expect on the day or a clear breakdown of the activities candidates can expect to take part in.

For many neurodivergent people, there’s no such thing as too much information!

5. Interrogate your assessment process – what do you need, what are you looking for and what really matters?

Using structured frameworks for assessing candidates is a key part of this, but it’s also important to ensure that the competencies you’re looking for are genuinely relevant to the role.

Steer clear of the temptation to reward candidates based on ‘culture fit’ or whether they make eye contact or have a strong handshake – are these really necessary attributes for the role you’re hiring for?

6. Train your assessors!

Ensure your assessors and interviewers are on the same page. There’s no point designing an inclusive process only for your interviewers to wing it and make decisions based on their personal biases.

You can help avoid this by having multiple interviewers from diverse backgrounds at every stage and by running regular, comprehensive training for all your interviewers.

7. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress

No one does this perfectly and you’ll inevitably learn and improve as you go. Don’t claim to be perfect, acknowledge where you could be better and keep making small changes wherever you see an opportunity to improve. You don’t have to get it all right first time.

You may also be interested in…

How to attract, recruit and empower neurodiverse talent

Rise in graduates feeling disadvantaged in job applications

How to use data to drive inclusive recruitment

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