How to Build a More Inclusive Hiring Process for Neurodivergent Candidates

5 Minutes

In this week's episode of the Leading with Inclusion series on the Life in Digital Podc...

By Amy Halls

Senior Marketing & Talent Manager

In this week's episode of the Leading with Inclusion series on the Life in Digital Podcast, we're joined by Jennie Childs, Founder of Balance, to discuss the importance of inclusive hiring and her experiences with ADHD in the recruitment process. Balance is an inclusive hiring consultancy that is dedicated to breaking down barriers and promoting bias-free hiring through training workshops, inclusive recruitment audits, and transformative change consultancy.

With nearly two decades of experience in recruitment, Jennie founded Balance in 2018 out of a passion for the nuanced world of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, recognizing a need for companies to address inclusive hiring practices. Join us as we explore the challenges and opportunities of inclusive hiring to make all industries accessible to everyone.

The Origins of Balance: How Hidden Barriers Led to Inclusive Hiring Innovations

Jennie set out to tackle hidden barriers and non-inclusive hiring behaviors after coming across them as an employee in the recruitment industry.

She recognized a strong focus on culture fit that perpetuated homogeneity and exclusivity, particularly in the creative industry and noticed unintentional but habitual practices in the hiring process that decreased diversity and encouraged deselection.

Jennie's experiences led her to develop audits and training to help organizations remove barriers and implement inclusive hiring strategies themselves.

"That is where the idea was born - I can showcase these different ways of working, or I can highlight where the barriers are."

With Balance, she has made it her mission to continuously increase awareness and disrupt bias to create a level playing field for all candidates.Inclusive Hiring: Working with Recruitment Companies to Address Challenges

Inclusive Hiring: Working with Recruitment Companies to Address Challenges

When working with recruitment companies and engaging with clients, Jennie follows a systematic approach to tackle diversity, equity, and inclusion challenges. Her go-to strategy is conducting an audit, which enables her to identify the gaps and strengths of the company's hiring processes and culture. According to Jennie, it's crucial to start with the 'why' and understand the company's motivations and goals for inclusive hiring.

Jennie emphasizes that each organization faces unique challenges in building an inclusive workplace. Some may excel in attracting and hiring candidates from differently-abled backgrounds, but struggle with retaining or promoting them. Others may have a weak talent pool or lack representation in certain roles or departments. By conducting an audit, Jennie can pinpoint specific areas where the company needs to focus its efforts and interventions.

For instance, an audit can reveal that a company has a strong commitment to disability inclusion and provides reasonable accommodations during interviews, but their job descriptions or advertising materials may use language or imagery that inadvertently exclude underrepresented groups. By identifying such barriers, Jennie can help the company develop targeted solutions and make the hiring process more inclusive and accessible.

Overall, the aim of the audit is not to "fix what isn't broken," but to build on the strengths and address the weaknesses of the company's DEI initiatives and hiring practices.

Navigating Neurodiversity in Hiring: Insights from Jennie Childs

In the podcast, Jennie offers insights on the importance of understanding neurodiversity within the hiring process. Jennie emphasizes that while neurodiversity is a broad and complex topic, it is important for hiring managers to recognize that every individual is unique and should not be labeled based on a specific diagnosis. She shares her personal journey of being diagnosed with ADHD and how it has helped her better understand the challenges of neurodivergent individuals in the recruitment process.

Jennie also highlights the concept of "masking" and how it can make it difficult to identify neurodivergent candidates, particularly in women. She suggests that companies should apply best practices in their interviewing techniques at all times, as candidates may not be diagnosed or may not feel comfortable disclosing their diagnosis.

One of the key takeaways from Jennie's insights is the importance of avoiding open-ended or vague questions during the interview process, which can be challenging for neurodivergent individuals. Instead, hiring managers should provide clear parameters for questions and avoid assuming that they know what accommodations a candidate may need.

“I can fall into the trap of an open-ended question which will lead to a really, really long answer.”

When interviewing neurodivergent candidates, it's important to strike a balance between open-ended questions and leading questions. Jennie suggests that if an open-ended question is necessary, recruiters should provide specific parameters to make it more manageable for candidates. For example, instead of asking, "Tell me about yourself," a more effective question could be, "Can you spend 3-4 minutes discussing your experience with X?" This helps neurodivergent candidates stay focused and answer questions more directly.

Jennie also warns against asking questions that don't add value, such as overly vague or broad questions. For instance, asking a candidate to "tell me about yourself" can lead to long, overly descriptive answers that can be difficult to follow. Instead, asking specific and relevant questions can help candidates provide more direct and succinct answers.

As Jennie puts it, "It's not a one-size-fits-all approach." Every candidate is unique, and recruiters should take this into account when designing their interview process. This blog only covers a small portion of the conversation between Amy and Jennie, so make sure to listen to the full podcast for even more insights on inclusive hiring for neurodivergent talent.

Listen to the full podcast for more insights on how to create a more inclusive and accessible hiring process for everyone: Listen here

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