It is estimated that about one in eight people in the world are neurodiverse. While the term encompasses anyone who thinks differently than those in the mainstream, it typically describes individuals with autism and autism spectrum disorders, dyslexia, ADD or ADHD, or other non-standard behaviors or thinking patterns.
There are many reasons that neurodiverse individuals benefit companies if afforded the right working conditions. According to Work Design Magazine, “Neurodivergents tend to be high energy, out of the box thinkers, excel in a crisis, and be bold problem solvers, but navigating the modern workplace can be a challenge.”
Workplace modifications to support neurodivergent employees include limiting distractions, offering clear guidelines and processes, and creating ways to control their sensory stimulation.
If your employee is neurodiverse, they may divulge this information to you after hiring. But how can companies that want to become more neurodiverse make candidates feel comfortable in a job interview?
Major companies like Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, and Ernst & Young are removing anti-neurodivergent bias from their interview processes. Whether or not you know if a candidate is neurodiverse, too, modifying your hiring tactics in the following ways benefits everyone, regardless of how they think or behave.
Here are a few strategies to put all candidates at ease.
Simplify your job postings
If your job postings are long and complicated, then neurodivergent candidates are less likely to read them, understand them, and apply. So, the key here is writing job postings that are as succinct as possible, as well as including relevant details like salary and working conditions.
What’s more, if you have a wishlist of skills that neurodivergents may not possess, then they may decide not to apply. Though it is common practice to list every desirable quality in a job posting, the best practice is to only include the essential skills and experience necessary to perform the job.
After writing succinctly and including only essential job skills, then be as clear as possible about the next steps in the recruitment process directly in the job posting. What is the hiring manager’s name? How many interviews will there be before a candidate is hired?
Make sure your interviews and assessment rooms are quiet – and your instructions are clear
Assessment pre-screenings may take place in busy or noisy rooms, meaning that neurodiverse candidates may not be able to perform at their best.
“For example, neurodiverse individuals may have a heightened reaction to external stimuli such as noise, so it is worth producing an interview guide that encourages candidates to select an area that will be free of disturbances (if undertaking assessments remotely),” explains the Robert Walters Group.
The same is true when choosing an interview room. If neurodiverse candidates are overwhelmed with noise, light, or movement, they may not be able to focus appropriately on the questions at hand.
“If [your regular interview setups are] too noisy with discretions (glass doors and big windows where people are passing), this could be uncomfortable for those with sensory processing issues. Whether you’re doing a virtual interview or a face-to-face interview, ensure that you find a place that can help them focus on the interview by choosing a quiet location with no clutter and a place that has natural light will suit them (if in person, no strong odors),” suggests Randstad.
It’s also good practice to give candidates plenty of information they can use to prepare prior to the interview. Specifically, you want to offer clear descriptions of how to get to the interview or assessment room, ideally with visual cues. Additionally, you want to describe the interview details, including its length, format, and participants. What’s more, send them the interview questions beforehand so they have time to prepare.
Revise your interviewing criteria
Many of the ways we traditionally evaluate job interview success are biased against neurodiverse candidates. For instance, we are often impressed by eye contact, body language, and communication skills; one or more of these interpersonal skills may not come easily to neurodiverse candidates.
Rather than focusing on how an interviewee performs in the job interview, then, hiring managers should consider if they possess the skills and experience necessary for the position.
“When interviewing a neurodiverse candidate, changing the standard interview process to focus on skills-based methods, questions and tasks will help you understand how your candidate can perform and deliver on specific tasks that are required in the role they are applying for. A great way to get a deeper understanding is to ask the candidate to bring in past work samples that relate to the job they are interviewing for,” Randstad advises.
Eliminating Neurodivergent Bias in Your Hiring Process
The more diversity in your company, the better. Neurodiversity is no exception. Non-traditional thinkers can push for innovation and create dynamic ideas. But you want to make sure your interview processes help these candidates excel, rather than fumble.
Read more on how: Interviews Are Changing. Be Ready for These New Questions