How to improve the recruitment process for neurodiverse talent

Apr 11, 2022 | Diversity

There are some easy ways you can make your recruitment process more accessible for neurodiverse talent, say Meet & Engage.

At ISE Delivering Apprenticeships Conference Nicola Sullivan, Solutions Director at Meet & Engage and Theo Smith, a neurodiversity expert, discussed ways to make the candidate experience more inclusive through the lens of neurodiversity.

Neurodiversity is the concept that people experience and engage with the world around them in different ways.

There is no ‘right’ way of thinking, behaving or learning and these differences should not be viewed as a deficit. Even so, the word neurodiversity is often associated with people with autism spectrum disorder, developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities.

If you’re looking to be more inclusive as an organisation, especially where early talent are concerned, the best place to start is by reviewing your existing recruitment processes and seeing where they can be improved and made more accessible.

Find out how you can best support candidates

Many neurodivergent people have invisible (dis)abilities, so it’s important to ask your candidates what you can do to support them better. Every time it’s appropriate ask candidates in the process “what could we be doing to give you a better understanding of the role?” And “is there anything we can do to adapt this part of the process to improve things for you?”

Ideally no adjustment requested should be unrealistic. If you think about it, we can all be disabled by a situation or our surroundings at some time and for neurodiverse candidates that may be more often.

To put this into perspective, if a neurotypical candidate broke their arm and was temporarily disabled then you would need adaptations to the recruitment process, should the assessment involve lots of writing or typing.

That would not be considered unreasonable, so just because we can’t ‘see’ the challenge that a neurodivergent candidate may have, shouldn’t make a difference, we should and can support them once we know the best way how. This goes back to asking the candidates what they need to make the process/experience better – don’t assume!

Make the recruitment process transparent

Transparency of the recruitment process is also important to flag and then alleviate concerns, so letting candidates know as early in the process as possible what to expect and what the process will involve is vital.

This is especially important within early careers when this may be the first time that they’ve ever applied for a role, so may already be apprehensive. You can also make candidates aware at this stage that if they do have any concerns to contact you to see if there is a reasonable work around.

If you were to spring something on a candidate at the latter stages of the process that they weren’t expecting this could lead to unnecessary distress, which will quite often result in them withdrawing from the process. To improve this, you could record where candidates are dropping out and then take action to improve this area.

Ask candidates how they prefer to consume information

Another great way to be more inclusive is by giving candidates the option of how they want to consume information, for example – text, images, videos, audio, long or short form – this will enable the candidate to access the information in the best way for them and bring some equity to the process.

Getting started

Often with improving candidate experience and especially where neurodiversity is concerned you just need to make an action to get started.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Do something – undertake an internal audit of the process and think about what may not work. Perhaps speak to recent employees to see how they found the process and then act upon that feedback.
  • Show you care about making the recruitment process more accessible – this could be on your website, social media channels or as part of your ongoing EVP.
  • Promote your company as neuro inclusive – share that you want to be neuro inclusive, ask people to apply and then let you know if/where you’re going wrong so that future adaptations can be made.

Rolls Royce – a shining example

As an example of great candidate experience one of our clients, Rolls Royce, used our Inspire & Nurture technology to host a series of live virtual events for their early careers recruitment programme.

The events were based on their values, one of which ‘Courage’ was used for a focus on neurodiversity.

Interns, graduates and senior leaders from within the business shared how they have adapted and been successful, and demonstrated to Rolls Royce why neurodiverse people are so important to continued innovation and growth. Students were appreciative and engaged by the opportunity. They found the networking and support for each other amazing.

Meet & Engage is passionate about supporting clients to use our technology to improve candidate experience throughout their hiring process and we’re able to make recommendations to support inclusivity.

Catch up on the ISE Delivering Apprenticeships Conference

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