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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Minnikin

Creating more neuro-inclusive recruitment practices

I'm a neurodivergent Organisational Psychologist who has spent most of my career helping organisations select and develop people. I really struggled in organisations to fit in, follow the rules, to hide my creativity and problem solving skills so I wouldn't be ‘too much’. Following multiple burnouts from all this extra effort I expended trying to be ‘normal’, I took myself off to start my own company.

There are estimations that 15-20% of the world’s population are neurodivergent - and so many of us are unemployed, or underemployed. If you don’t accommodate us, we’ll leave to set up on our own and take our fabulous strengths with us.

What a shame this is for organisations! There are companies who are actively attracting and accommodating neurodiverse humans, such as SAP, EY, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard and they’re showing real benefits:

  • Higher productivity

  • Improved quality

  • Greater capabilities in innovation

  • Better communication

  • Increases in employee engagement

One of the greatest barriers for neurodiverse people is getting through recruitment processes. Most organisations recruit like this:

  1. CV

  2. Interview

  3. References

And we’re surprised that we get it wrong so often and close the door to awesome talent?

What do these things measure anyway?

  • CVs - how good someone is at crafting and presenting a story (or you can bypass all that by paying someone else to write your CV for you).

  • Interviews - how good you are at building rapport with other people, being ‘normal’, remembering what you’ve done, selling your skills and making friends.

  • References - most companies don’t do personal references nowadays, but I wouldn't give the name of someone who didn't like me to be a reference.

So many neurodivergent people struggle with interviews, creating a barrier for them! I’ve had some terrible experiences in my career and fairly harsh feedback.

When you design recruitment processes to be more sensitive to individual needs, you don’t just help the neurodiverse individuals, you help everyone and are more likely to get the best out of people.

So here are 5 quick ideas that will help everyone succeed in interviews:

  1. Provide clear, concise written and visual information about the entire recruitment process, what the steps are, what to expect, what the timescales are, who is the point of contact for questions and to request adjustments

  2. Manage expectations of the interview - who is going to be there, their roles, the topics they are going to be covering, ground rules, timings etc.

  3. Give people the questions beforehand so they can properly prepare and allow them to refer to their notes in the interview

  4. Help the candidate through the interview by giving feedback if they are talking too much, or too little and guide them through the process of information gathering

  5. Don’t just rely on an interview - give the candidate a chance to demonstrate some of the skills they will need on the job, give them a problem they will come across in the job and give them some time to show you how they would solve that problem.

How about it? Worth a try?

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