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Hiring in a Neurodiverse World

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Traditional hiring processes are not designed with neurodiverse candidates in mind. In fact, just 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment. But what businesses don’t quite understand is that having a neurodiverse workforce contributes to greater creativity and innovation, and encourages more unique ideas and perspectives. Evidence also suggests that neurodiverse employees have higher aptitudes for technical skills, as well as their ability to focus on tasks at hand.

Businesses need to seriously reconsider how they recruit if they are to widen their talent pools and target neurodiverse candidates. If they don’t, they risk losing out on a growing population of qualified candidates. This starts with broadening hiring processes to meet diverse needs to ensure everyone has a positive candidate experience and an equal chance of securing roles.

The case for neurodiversity

Talent decision-makers are the gatekeepers of opportunity and they have a great chance to truly diversify their workforce. But only if they recognise that their current hiring process may not work well for neurotypical candidates.

Neurodivergent individuals have variations in the brain which can affect mood, sociability, and attention span – common diagnoses can be dyslexia and autism, among many others. This means that while a neurotypical applicant may not think twice about something as common as interview questions filled with analogies, this type of question can be tricky for an autistic candidate who focuses in on an errant sports reference that is actually about workplace performance.

By relying on unreliable but traditional interview methods, the sad reality is that many neurodiverse individuals are far less likely to make it through recruitment processes and into employment – 35% of 18-year olds with autism attend university, but a staggering 85% of university graduates with autism are under-employed or unemployed.

Every candidate deserves an equal opportunity to thrive when searching for a new job. And hiring teams must ensure all recruitment processes provide a positive experience for all applicants, from start to finish.

Best practices for hiring neurodiverse talent

A more equitable and engaging way to reach all candidates is through game-based assessments. These assessments provide hiring decision-makers with a more accurate, scientifically-validated picture of how a candidate will perform in the job. They also convey a fresh and dynamic employer image, helping businesses to increase initial interest in their roles.

Specifically, game-based assessments are extremely beneficial to autistic candidates, as they remove the need to talk to an interviewer during the initial stages of the hiring process. Many autistic individuals express that they struggle with non-verbal cues, so are able to better show off their skills in a game-based environment.

Recent research also found that when given a game-based assessment, autistic candidates scored the same as neurotypical candidates, which is not the case with other, more traditional, candidate evaluation techniques such as unstructured interviews. Games offer a fairer playing field for the hiring process, a clear example of how a small change in the way we hire can lead to a less biased hiring experience.

When implementing any pre-hire assessment, it’s a good idea to give applicants an overview of what they should expect. Sharing tips and providing processes, either in print or video form in advance, will allow candidates to put their best selves forward. Only 36% of employers use game-based assessments, so many neurodiverse candidates may not be familiar with how they work. The aim of these assessments is to minimize the stress of interviews, so providing clear instructions will create an experience that’s more enjoyable for all applicants. With a better understanding of what is coming, candidates who feel that they will not be fairly assessed with a certain type of assessment have the chance to opt out or request an alternate path at this point.

Feedback is also recommended; being left in the dark can be extremely frustrating and stressful for candidates. Hiring managers should always provide structured and constructive feedback on how a candidate’s evaluation went. . With game-based assessments, this is usually automated for candidates at the end of completion.

Inclusion starts with hiring

Many employers are recognising the true value of having neurodiverse employees. However, any attempt at a ‘neurodiversity strategy’ cannot be approached with a ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude. A careful, considered approach that offers multiple hiring solutions – like game-based assessments – will help all candidates excel. Not only will this enhance the candidate experience, but it will also create an important competitive edge for any business in the increasingly challenging fight for talent.

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