Neurodivergence and people with dyslexia can bring so many assets to an organisation or role which neurotypical people may not. However, the application process often alienates potential candidates, this can be easily solved.
Jennie Williams, EnhanceTheUK’s CEO, discusses her experience with dyslexia and what she thinks can be done to improve job interviews and application processes. It is important to remember that dyslexia and neurodivergence is different for every individual. However, these tips aim to create more inclusivity for everyone.
Often neurotypical people can have traits of neurodivergence such as dyslexia and ADHD. Therefore, by making these changes you will be reaching many more potential candidates.
What can someone with dyslexia bring to a role?
- Lateral thinking
- Big picture thinking
So, let’s take a look at how to attract dyslexic and neurodivergent candidates.
How can interviews be more difficult for someone with dyslexia?
It is common for candidates to be asked to perform written or literacy tasks in an interview situation or application process, and often these will be timed.
Of course, it depends on the job, but in most real-life situations people are not examined by how fast they can perform a task, rather by how well. For someone who is already nervous how their dyslexia may affect their application, unnecessary timing a task can negatively affect their work.
Not only is it unhelpful for the candidate, but also the employer, as the knowledge and skills the applicant possess may get lost due to the pressure of being timed.
Offering reasonable adjustments before someone asks
We all know that first impressions count. This is why it can be daunting for someone with dyslexia to ask for adjustments to be made, for fear of being unfairly judged. By offering reasonable adjustments in your application process, and providing examples of what you can offer, the candidate will feel more comfortable accepting them.
For example, providing reading software that someone could use during the interview to help understand questions easier. Alternatively, offering the ability to bring in a personal laptop to use. The most important part of this is making someone feel welcome to do so and not judged.
Give as much information ahead of time to allow for preparation
Allowing candidates to prepare answers ahead of time can ensure you are getting a clear response to your question, and not a rushed version due to them feeling overwhelmed.
Of course, it will vary from organisation to organisation what is deemed reasonable and fair. It may also depend on the type of job. But there are many cases where receiving prepared answers to a question will be just as beneficial as unprepared, if not more.
For example, ‘can you tell me about a time where you led a team of people to a positive outcome’.
The answer to this question will not change depending on whether the candidate heard it in advance or not. However, when put under pressure the candidate may forget crucial information that would have been useful for you to know.
Another consideration to keep in mind is sending over written information in smaller paragraphs. This is more easily read by someone with dyslexia, again reducing the feeling of being overwhelmed.
The first communication someone has with your organisation often indicates whether they want to work for you. Therefore, making your emails easy to read is important to consider whether the person has dyslexia or not.
‘Essential requirement – attention to detail’… why?
We are willing to bet that on almost all job descriptions you have seen, the phrase ‘attention to detail’ has been included. But have you ever thought about how this may exclude someone with dyslexia, ADHD, or other neurodivergent traits?
Sure, for certain jobs it is crucial. It’s certainly a key skill we would want our accountant to have. But is it necessary for the job that you are advertising for?
There is a lot to be said for a person who can get into the nitty gritty details. However, employing a person who can approach a task from a different perspective and see the bigger picture will open new insights that otherwise could be missed.
For someone with dyslexia, this phrase will often put them off applying. So next time you are writing a job description, maybe have a think whether this really is an essential requirement.
Read more on attracting and hiring neurodiverse candidates here