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Diversity & inclusion | 10 minute read

4 steps to hiring neurodivergent talent

August 3, 2023

With record low unemployment numbers in many countries but open roles that still need to be filled, organizations are expanding their talent pools and seeking innovative ways to hire. Some are focusing on skills-based hiring and building strong talent pipelines for their future requisitions; others are developing their internal mobility programs to upskill current employees to fulfill these needs. 

Whatever strategy is adopted, approaching hiring with inclusivity and the goal of attracting a diverse candidate pool should be of utmost importance. This will not only increase applications but improve your company’s revenue and margin attainment.  

In this blog, we look at neurodivergent talent and explain how you can ensure your hiring practices are inclusive and welcoming to a diverse group of people. Here are four steps to hiring neurodivergent talent. 

#1: Educate yourself and your team on neurodiversity 

First, build your knowledge of neurodiversity by engaging with organizations that work with neurodivergent individuals. This will allow you to identify how you can build processes into your recruitment process that make them feel comfortable applying at your organizations. These organizations will also help you network with their members, connecting you with potential candidates and provide ongoing support for you and your new hires. Being an ally to these organizations will also help you communicate your company’s employee value proposition (EVP), reinforcing your commitment to supporting neurodivergent candidates. 

Better understanding of neurodivergent individuals will help you design the right attraction strategy. Do not forget to educate your hiring community (e.g., hiring managers, screeners and interviewers) as they need to understand how they should interview to ensure fairness in the process as well as what neurodivergent talent can offer their team.  


Read more in our Q&A: Neurodiversity and mental health awareness  

#2: Adapt your recruitment process to include neurodiverse candidates 

When building your job ads, make sure you clearly state what you’re looking for in a candidate and avoid using words that are confusing or have double meanings. This helps neurodivergent candidates understand the role they are applying for. The job title and the first line in the job description should be clear for anyone to understand the role. When building templates, ensure accessibility in your language choices and train your team on what to include and avoid. 

Additionally, think about the skills you’re looking for and what way you can best understand someone's knowledge. A traditional face-to-face interview might not be the best format if the role requires more practical engagement. Ensure any instructions during the hiring process are clear (and confirm they understand), so candidates understand expectations. Of course, you should always provide reasonable accommodations for any candidate who requests it, but we mean adapting the process for all candidates to better assess their abilities to perform the role’s function.   

59% of neurodiverse respondents mention a lack of support in their organizations and fear disclosing their neurodiversity “may negatively impact their future within their companies” according to a UK-based 2023 Sparta Global survey. 

#3: Consider skills over education 

Education may be an important qualification for some roles, but neurodivergent individuals may possess unique skills and strengths that are not highlighted by the traditional education system. Are there other ways for candidates to be evaluated? It’s certainly a consideration to make as you approach the hiring process. Neurodivergent talent may have a different learning style and alternative education paths, so leaning into skills-based hiring will open the talent pool naturally.  

Be aware that hiring managers tend to have a bias for candidates who are like themselves, but this reduces the cognitive skills within your organization. Educating your hiring managers on how to assess candidates based on their skills will promote inclusivity and equality in your recruitment efforts. Help them understand the benefits of making the role more accessible to a broader group of candidates.  

“75% say hiring, promoting, and deploying people based on skills (vs. tenure, job history, or network) can help democratize opportunity and improve access to it” according to Deloitte’s 2023 Global Human Capital Trends. 

#4: Build continuous engagement 

Once you’ve built inclusivity into your recruitment process, you may be asking yourself how you engage neurodivergent talent. You don’t want to see them walk out the door to your competitors. The most important part about attracting neurodivergent talent is to build a culture of belonging that supports it. Every individual in your organization must feel like the environment is welcoming and supportive. This minimizes attrition and leads to more diversity; it’s a cycle.  

Be open and transparent throughout your organization (from top to bottom and across departments) and use multiple methods of communication to get business messages out there, including: 

  • Group calls 
  • One-on-ones 
  • Face-to-face communication 
  • Online chat platforms 
  • Anonymous suggestion boxes 

Be sure employees know they can be their authentic selves and have an outlet for sharing ideas and improvements with the business.  

Provide mentorship programs, with trained individuals who offer guidance, support and personalized assistance to newcomers. Mentors can help navigate the complexities of your organization and make new hires feel comfortable, no matter their background. They’ll know they have a support system and someone they can always turn to within the business.  

Making inclusivity a priority 

Get executive buy-in that you are not trying to meet a diversity quota and, instead, want to drive a cultural change that will benefit the organization and everyone in it. This will make it much easier to commit to the shifts that may need to happen to ensure inclusivity in the hiring process.  

Remember, neurodiversity is a superpower. When you harness this extraordinary talent, you’ll see a more balanced, creative and innovative workforce from which all employees will benefit.  

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About Stewart Cato

Stewart is the vice president of talent operations at WilsonHCG. He has years of expertise managing and delivering complex, multi-region technical talent solution programmes for international clients across EMEA, NAM and APAC. Stewart is passionate about delivering talent programmes that make a marked difference to the talent agenda and developing teams to reach their full potential.