How to adapt your IT recruitment process for neurodiversity

Last month we talked about the value of embracing neurodiversity in IT recruitment.

Organisations that hire with diversity in mind routinely do better than those that don’t. Major brands like Microsoft, Morgan Chase, Ernst & Young, and even MI5 and MI6 have started hiring specifically with neurodiversity in mind because of the benefits it brings.

If you’re convinced by either the moral or practical argument for building neurodiversity into your IT recruitment process, here is how you can actually go about doing it:

How to adapt your IT recruitment process for neurodiversity

1) Rethink your job adverts

Communication skills are vital for some roles. For many others though, this phrase gets accidentally copied and pasted into the job description when the day-to-day work doesn’t actually call for many communication skills at all.

This little combination of words is so over-used in job adverts that most people simply skim over it anyway. However, some neurodivergent people who are more than self-aware enough to know their talents lie in other areas will be put off by it.

Does someone you’re hiring for a big data job because of their pattern recognition skills actually need to be an incredible communicator? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, it’s just boilerplate text that you can do without.

You might also want to do the following in your job adverts:

-Include a statement about your commitment to diversity

-Choose a readable font like Arial or Verdana in size 12-14 font

-Use plain English and clearly (and correctly) mark required and desirable attributes

2) Assess your overall application process

Many companies have IT recruitment processes that are designed to whittle down huge numbers of applicants to fewer, more suitable ones. However, typical strategies – disregarding CVs with gaps in work histories or minor grammatical errors – often result in good candidates being missed.

Consider a neurodivergent person who has delivered excellent results in a past position but not received any support, thus making it look like they aren’t very reliable. Someone with dyslexia might have made small errors in a CV that would be of no detriment to their daily performance.

To adjust your application process for neurodivergent people you could:

-Look at examples of past work instead of just a CV

-Include a clear list of the steps your recruitment process includes

-Provide information about individual interviewers and office directions for physical interviews

-Determine if any automated assessment software has features that might be biased against neurodivergent people

-Assess any test areas for distracting auditory or visual stimuli

3) Upgrade your interviews

The interview process is stressful enough. But for many neurodiverse people, the stress and anxieties are heightened yet further.

To make sure you get the best read on all candidates and can hire the person who will actually deliver the best results in the IT job you need to fill, you could:

Advertise that you’re willing to adapt – a direct message that you’re willing to make changes to your interview process goes a long way. Consider adding a request for additional support needs for every candidate.

-Focus on what you actually need – remembering that you need, for instance, a brilliant software engineer not necessarily a social butterfly can help you hire the person who is best for the job. Try not to count someone’s lack of social skills against them.

Meet people at the door – ameliorate the stress that navigating a new environment and interacting with new people can create by meeting candidates at the door and not abandoning them for extended periods.

Provide verbal on-the-spot feedback – not all neurodiverse people can read body language, make eye contact, or “read the room” easily. This means it can be beneficial to state how you feel about a response or situation.

-Reach out for two-way feedback – two-way feedback after an interview is valuable for your organisation as well as all candidates.

Onboarding neurodivergent hires

Just like the initial IT recruitment process, many organisations previously treated onboarding new talent as a cookie-cutter process that works the same for every person.

With the needs of some neurodiverse people in mind though (but with benefits for every new recruit), after hiring a new IT specialist you might:

-Remove uncertainty by training for all necessary actions (e.g. how to book annual leave)

-Make sure direct line managers are prepared and disposed to support new hires

-Ask new hires how they would like to be introduced to colleagues (one-to-one, for example)

-Provide anti-bias training for your whole team (this teaches information like the fact some neurodivergent people may appear angry as a result of being overstimulated and require time to themselves)

-Invite new hires to small-scale or one-to-one social activities at breaks (to avoid “other-ing”)

-Finally, as always, make sure lines of communication are open so new hires know who they can speak to if they have questions they need to ask on any topic.

Like many of the suggestions here, this can help you adjust your hiring process for neurodiversity. However, it is also a benefit for every new hire. Some of whom may not be willing to admit they are neurodivergent. And some of whom may not even know they are.

Want to make sure that you are always hiring the right person for your latest IT job?

Let’s talk. Ernest Gordon is a specialist IT recruitment agency. Our proven, open, honest, transparent process finds you the best professionals from our extensive talent pool.

Reach out to us today to talk over your needs with a helpful specialist.