Autism – adjustments you can make to the recruitment process

A look at neuro-diversity well in advance of National Autism Week

Clever employers are always on the lookout for the next top talent that’ll help push their business to the next level. Incredible people with incredible minds have revolutionised the way we use computers, changed the world of art, and developed the world renowned theory of relativity, E=MC2.
It has been rumoured that Bill Gates, Michelangelo, and Einstein are or were somewhere on the autistic spectrum. While certainty on this does not exist in the public domain, they have demonstrated some of the key traits commonly associated with Asperger’s: a type of autism that can affect how a person communicates. Small talk, just as one example, can be tricky.
Skills found in many autistic job candidates
Another thing they all have in common is their success. Whether or not autism was a contributing factor to this success, some of the traits found in many autistic job candidates can be seen in them:
  • High ability to concentrate
  • Reliability and consistency
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Technical abilities
  • Incredible memory and recall skill
Traits like these are potentially so valuable to prospective employers. And they help some employees thrive in a role that maybe others wouldn’t. It really does beg the question, why do some autistic candidates struggle to find employment?
According to the National Autistic Society only 16% of autistic adults are in full-time work. Let’s be clear the spectrum is wide and not all autistic candidates will exhibit these sought-after traits, or be suitable for every role. But are employers missing out on skills because of some prejudice?
Adjustments you can make to the recruitment process
We think the traditional recruitment process is responsible for restricting SMEs’ “neuro-diversity”, creating a barrier between them and the talent they need. Let’s take the interview. They’re daunting for all of us at the best of times, even to those conducting the interview. For someone with autism, the interview can present a significant challenge. The film above from the National Autistic Society will show you why.
There are small adjustments you can make to the interview process that would make the world of difference, making it easier for candidates with autism to showcase their talents. Ask closed questions, prompt helpfully, and try to avoid hypothetical questions.
Ultimately, there’s serious talent out there, and we think SMEs should be tapping into it. The HR Dept is, of course, there to help you do that.

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Ian heads up the HR Dept Edinburgh & the Lothians team. The HR Dept specialises in helping SMEs with everything to with employment, through a local and personal service delivering practical and pragmatic advice and support. With nearly 30 years HR experience, Ian has a wealth of experience in helping businesses to ensure success through their people, be legally compliant and handle tricky people issues. As a business owner himself, Ian understands the challenges that come with running and growing a business. He is known for his ability to explain complex concepts simply and to make learning fun and enjoyable.

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