Dr Nick Walker, a scholar and speaker describes neurodivergence as ‘diversity of the human brain and mind’.
While research, educational resources, and open conversations around neurodiversity have increased noticeably in recent years, there is still a long way to go in many respects. In the UK alone, we have 5 million people who consider themselves to be neurodivergent, but only 120,000 have been formally diagnosed.

Neurodiversity includes conditions such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. Because of the misconceptions around neurodiversity, workplaces often fail to see the true value neurodiverse talent can bring. For example, over the past two years, the HPE’s program has placed more than 30 participants in software-testing roles at Australia’s Department of Human Services (DHS). Preliminary results suggest that the organisation’s neurodiverse testing teams are 30% more productive than the others.

In this article, we will explore how recruitment teams can make their hiring practices inclusive to neurodiverse candidates.

Understanding Neurodiversity

To establish an inclusive hiring process, it’s essential to first gain a comprehensive neurodiversity. It’s crucial to challenge and eradicate any outdated and inaccurate perceptions views of neurological differences as disorders that need to be fixed. Neurological diversity is a natural and valuable aspect of the human experience. By acknowledging the strengths and unique perspectives that neurodivergent individuals bring to the table, organisations can build a more dynamic and innovative workforce.

Recruitment teams should prioritise education and training to ensure that team members process a solid understanding of neurodiversity and its implications in the workplace. This entails understanding the various neurodivergent conditions, recognising potential biases, and dispelling common myths and misconceptions. Training programs can help create a more informed and empathetic recruitment team that is better equipped to assess and appreciate neurodivergent candidates.

Adaptable Recruitment Processes

Traditional recruitment processes may inadvertently disadvantage neurodivergent candidates. To address this, recruitment teams should consider making their processes are more adaptable. This could involve offering alternative communication methods, providing additional time for assessments, and simply asking neurodiverse individuals what support can be offered to them in the interview process. Recruitment teams can foster inclusivity by incorporating alternative interview methods, such as skills-based assessments, practical tasks, or asynchronous interviews. These approaches allow candidates to highlight their abilities in a more comfortable and authentic manner.

Flexibility in the hiring process creates a level playing field for all candidates and allows everyone to have the opportunity to display their strengths to the best of their ability – whether their neurodiverse or not.

You may be interested in how an ATS can combat prejudice in recruitment.

Be Considerate

Neurodiverse candidates could be fearful of how the organisation they are interviewing with is going to respond to them stating their neurodiversity. If the organisation is going to ask if an applicant is neurodivergent, it is important to stress that it will not impact the results around an employment offer. It is also important for organisations to share a disclaimer in the job advertisement – something like the lines of ‘we support neurodivergent people applying for this role.

No matter what, it is important not to make assumptions. Neurodiverse people are just as different from each other as neurotypical people – an allowance one person needs another may not, disclosing their neurodiversity may be comfortable for some candidates, but not others. Recruitment teams should approach candidates in a friendly and relaxed way and ask if any reasonable adjustments are required, while stressing that the candidate does not have to address it if they would prefer not to, but if they change their mind the candidate can have open and non-judgmental conversation.

Building a Supportive Environment

It is an organisation’s people that are often the makings of the culture, and so recruitment teams can have a real impact on how cultures develop based on the people they attract and recruit. But creating an inclusive workplace goes beyond the hiring process. Once neurodivergent individuals are part of the team, organisations should provide ongoing support. This includes implementing mentorship programs, offering workplace accommodations, and fostering a culture that values neurodiversity. Open communication channels, and regular check-ins can help ensure that employees feel supported and can perform at their best.

You may enjoy reading our article on Blind Recruitment: the Good, the Bad and the Innovative.

By actively embracing neurodiversity in their hiring practices, recruitment teams can contribute to building a more inclusive and innovative workplace. The benefits of a neurodiverse workforce extend beyond diversity metrics; they encompass enhanced creativity, problem-solving, and a richer tapestry of perspectives. As organisations strive to create environments that celebrate differences, making hiring processes neurodiversity inclusive is a crucial step toward a more equitable and successful future.

About the author

Hannah Elliott