We care about technology-enhanced human systems. So we thought we would share regular thoughts and opinions about why we think they matter so much.
As it’s World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April we thought it was a good time to talk about neurodiversity and recruitment. And there’s a lot to talk about. According to the latest ONS figures only 22% of autistic adults are employed.
If you take into account other neurodiverse conditions such as ADHD, dyspraxia, OCD and dyslexia it’s fair to assume the number of neurodiverse people who aren’t in paid employment is even higher.
While many businesses are now more focused on Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) in their recruitment practices there’s obviously a long way to go when it comes to neurodiversity. But a growing number of companies are starting to pay attention to this untapped talent pool. IBM, Microsoft and Auto Trader UK, which won an Autism Friendly Employer Award from the National Autistic Society, have all adapted their recruitment processes to attract neurodiverse candidates.
Organisations like these will be reaping the benefits of neurodiverse employees who can bring with them above-average abilities in areas like logical thinking, focus, memory, creativity and innovation. So let’s look at how more companies can recruit neurodiverse talent.
A good place to start might be the application process. Application forms that require candidates to disclose their disability status are often a tick-box yes-no exercise. There are some easy tweaks that can be made here – like a drop-down menu with further questions or a text box that gives the applicant room to give more information.
As with any application form you need to strike a balance. Too many questions could cause a candidate to drop off and this may be particularly true for a neurodiverse candidate who’s easily overwhelmed. Also, some neurodiverse applicants may be reluctant to divulge too much information.
By asking more questions at the application stage you can collect more data. How you use that data is up to you. Our Applicant Tracking System can hide or show information depending on what’s needed. You might want to conceal information from hiring managers to remove unconscious bias. Or you may want to flag up something important – like the need for a low-lit interview environment for a neurodiverse candidate who’s hypersensitive to light.
Data is also vital for showing what’s happening in the recruitment cycle. It allows you to pinpoint which candidates are dropping off and where – and crucially to use that information to address where you may be failing neurodiverse candidates.
They may be a popular choice for many recruiters but one-way video interviews can be difficult for neurodiverse candidates. We’ve heard of set-ups where candidates get a minute to read the on-screen question and two minutes to record their answer. That’s tough for anyone but it could be particularly challenging for a neurodiverse candidate who needs more time to process things.
So why not give candidates longer to formulate an answer and the option to re-record.
You don’t need fancy recruitment tech to do it. HARBOUR can implement a simple solution that allows candidates to view a set of questions and upload their pre-recorded video answers. For neurodiverse candidates that’s a perfect way to give them time to prepare and to show their best selves.
Businesses like Specialisterne, a Danish consulting company has created a neurodiverse-friendly alternative to traditional assessments. They came up with the idea of ‘hangouts’ where job candidates can show their skills to the company manager in an informal setting over half a day.
Game-based assessments could also be used to create more of a level playing field for neurodiverse candidates. An example of this comes from enterprise software firm SAP who assess candidates by getting them to build a robot with LEGO® MINDSTORMS®.
Situational Judgement Tests (SJTs) are another tool that recruiters can use for assessments. As not all neurodiversities are equal these would need to be well thought out to accommodate different behaviours and capabilities. Perhaps a fairer way would be to give candidates a selection of tests – say an SJT with multiple-choice answers, role playing, a video where they can talk about themselves – with an average overall score at the end. This would allow for neurodiverse candidates who might excel in one test but do badly in another.
* We’re always here to bounce ideas around and come up with solutions. For more information drop us a line.