Neurodiversity is something that more employers are becoming aware of. Here at Enna, we work with so many great employers looking to train their workforce or improve their recruitment processes so they don’t miss out on neurodivergent talent. But what does it actually mean?
Neurodiversity is defined as the ‘the range of individual brain function and behavioural traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population’. Simply put, it means that neurodivergent brains differ from those that are deemed ‘neurotypical’ but this is completely normal, and should be respected.
Despite an increased awareness of neurodiversity within organisations, recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that only 16% of all autistic adults are in employment. These statistics haven’t improved in decades, which shows there is lots to be done to improve the employment prospects of those who identify as neurodivergent.
But what can organisations do? Well, many barriers to hiring and retaining neurodivergent talent occur during the recruitment process. Traditional interview processes and assessments are often built by and built for neurotypical candidates (those that do not have a type of neurodiversity) which means candidates are often assessed on their ability to communicate, their working memory (from researching a company before) and how confident they are. For many neurodivergent candidates, this means they may struggle to compete and miss out on jobs they could be fantastic for.
But what can employers do to make their recruitment processes more friendly to neurodivergent candidates, and break down the barriers once and for all?
1. Review Your Job Descriptions
Job descriptions are often the initial barrier for neurodivergent candidates. But what may employers be doing wrong and how can you improve them?
Use clear and concise language
For some neurodivergent candidates, especially autistic and dyslexic ones, it can be hard to deduce the key bits of information and understand what is being asked of them. By using clear and concise language, it makes sure that neurodivergent candidates can understand the role and the organisation, and decide if they are a good fit.
List key details
Are the key details about the role easy to find? These include the location, the working hours, salary and whether its remote or hybrid working? This can help a candidate decide whether they are a match for the role.
Are the skills listed really essential?
Enna’s experience with employers often shows that many job adverts contain skills that may not be completely essential for the role. These include things like ‘excellent communication skills’ or ‘excellent presentation skills’. In reality, the day to day role may not require these skills, so you may be losing out on neurodivergent candidates.
2. Make sure your careers site is accessible
Many neurodivergent people can experience sensory sensitivities, which means they may be sensitive to different colours, images, movements and sounds. As we all know, websites can be a hive of activity, and many neurodivergent applicants could struggle to access your site and apply for roles.
Using accessibility tools
Its really important to have web accessibility tools available for disabled and neurodivergent candidates. This includes tools such as being able to change the size of the font, the contrast and the colours.
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, known as WCAG, are an internationally recognised set of recommendations published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). They explain how to make your digital services, websites and apps accessible to everyone. Using these guidelines for your career site can help you understand how applicants engage with your content, ensuring they can easily understand information and apply for your roles.
3. Analyse Your Assessment Procedures
Given the ‘new normal’ that we find ourselves in, employers are increasingly using technology to assess candidates. However, some of these assessment procedures can have a negative impact on neurodivergent candidates. For example, using psychological or psychometric tests can often test candidates on their reading speed and how quickly they can respond to questions.
If using these, its recommended that you analyse your assessments and contact suppliers to understand how they work, and whether they could be creating unnecessary barriers for neurodivergent applicants.
4. Make Your Interviews Inclusive
Traditional interview techniques rely heavily on things like communication, eye contact, confidence and body language, something autistic candidates could experience challenges with. Its important to understand what traits and skills you’re accessing candidates on, and whether they are an essential component to that role.
Keep it skills based
Make sure your interviewers are assessing candidates on how well they can demonstrate the skills needed to do the role, not their body language or eye contact. It may be likely that autistic candidates can experience high levels of anxiety during the interview process, and may find it difficult.
Avoid ‘left field’ questions
Left field questions are questions to catch a candidate off guard, and can be especially difficult for autistic candidates. They can be tricky to answer, and may cause a lot of anxiety for someone neurodivergent. Instead, focus your questions so you are accessing particular skills and that require a clear, concrete answer.
Is a candidate going in the right or wrong direction? Prompt them to explain certain parts of their answers more or stop them if you’ve got what you wanted. This can help focus interviews and keep neurodivergent candidates on track.
Every neurodivergent individual is different, and its important to recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all approach’ when it comes to recruiting neurodivergent employees. Its really important to consider everyones unique strengths and challenges, and tailor your recruitment processes as necessary.
6. Are you looking to recruit neurodiverse talent?
Rethinking how you recruit can help you reduce the barriers and attract an untapped talent pool of neurodivergent candidates. Here at Enna, we can advertise your job opportunities and help you recruit neurodivergent talent. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we could help you.