Embracing Neurodiversity in the Hiring Process

15 March 2022

It’s been established that inclusive companies are far more likely to be innovation leaders. When looking at neurodiversity in particular, the statistics are fascinating. For example, autistic workers often achieve 48% to 140% more than their neurotypical colleagues, depending on the role, according to Fortune*. However, figures demonstrate that the number of autistic people in employment is disappointingly low at just 16%. Decades of misunderstanding has led to recruitment and hiring processes being designed with only neurotypical employees in mind, so this week we’re looking at some simple ways to make the hiring process more neurodiversity-friendly.

Job Adverts: We’ve all created a job advert in a rush and mostly copy & pasted from a previous version. By doing so, we’re left with a job advert that’s cluttered, with information that simply doesn’t need to be there. The ‘5 Cs’ rule should always apply – complete, compelling, clear, concise, and consistent. It may be tempting to overexplain the role and make a huge wish list of skills and attributes, but this can be seriously off-putting to neurodiverse candidates. Most people understand that requirements will have a level of compromise within them, but candidates with autism are far more likely to take them literally and exclude themselves because they don’t tick every box.

Interviews: When inviting candidates to interview it’s important to provide clear guidance as to how and where the interview will take place, along with directions where applicable. Letting them know what to expect, including the duration of the interview, who the candidate will be meeting and whether or not they will be undertaking any assessments will provide the level of clarity needed to avoid the anxiety that uncertainty can provoke, allowing them to thoroughly plan and prepare.

Unconscious Bias: Even when actively guarding against unconscious bias, it can creep in. On a logical level, a recruiter will be fully aware that a neurodivergent candidate may not be comfortable keeping eye contact during an interview, but this can still cause them to perceive this candidate as less likeable than a neurotypical candidate on a subconscious level. It’s therefore important to assess candidates on their competencies and skills. Remember, you’re looking for the best candidate for the job role, not the candidate who is best at interviewing.

In the UK, around 1 in 57 people have autism, and 1 in 10 of us is dyslexic – within your workplace you almost certainly have your own shining example of neurodiverse success, even if you don’t think your organisation currently employs any neurodiverse individuals.