Guest Blog: Quarsh

Guest Blog: Quarsh


Levelling the playing field for Neurodiverse job applicants


Businesses have been increasingly interested in the neurodiverse market as a means of recruiting talented candidates. But what does neurodiverse mean? Also referred to as “neuro atypical”, we’re talking about people who experience the world differently due to variations in how their brain functions. Conditions include ADHD, autism, Asperger’s, dyslexia and dyspraxia, amongst others. Learning and thinking differently brings real, tangible benefits. In the post-Covid-19 economy, neurodiverse employees are particularly well-equipped to deal with some core aspects of how business now works, especially concerning remote working. Businesses can benefit, if they’re brave enough to champion these differences and change how they recruit and manage their employees.

Through a survey, we asked people who identify as neurodiverse to comment on their experiences as candidates. Key findings are as follows:

  1. Employer Brand
    To candidates, two thirds of employers don’t visibly support neurodiversity, but when those candidates began working, they found that well over half of employers provide plenty of support. Making it clear that your organisations supports neurodiverse employees will give you immediate results with other neurodiverse candidates eager to join you.
  2. The application process
    Application forms are hard to fill out, phone interviews aren’t helpful and there’s not enough support pre-interview. This is stressful and off-putting.
  3. Interviews
    Assessments designed to catch people out or make them think on their feet are fine for neurotypicals, but this approach is incredibly stressful and counter-productive to neurodiverse applicants. They’re also not particularly motivated by a good culture fit. Better preparation is crucial, there should be minimal surprises, and use working interviews to take the emphasis away from competency-based Q&A sessions.
  4. Testing
    The choice of tests used are viewed as pointless, and seem to be designed to pick up on neurodiversity as a weakness; there aren’t enough provisions made for neurodiversity. Simple adjustments such as using different coloured paper make a huge difference; offer choices without creating a label or a bias.
  5. Interviewing
    Competency-based interviewing is ubiquitous, but for neurodiverse candidates, culture fit is irrelevant. Technical capability is much more important.
  6. Workplace adaptations
    72% of respondents said that good support mechanisms had a positive impact on their effectiveness. Employers can make much more of their neurodiverse workforce.

So what is needed?
First, get your policies and procedures on diversity and inclusion clear, with solid practice foundations in place so you have a sound starting point. Purple is your best partner for this. Next, address practical steps to improving hiring practices. Make it clear that neurodiverse applicants are welcomed. State that a menu of assessment methods is available, including a working interview. Ask what support is needed, with absolute clarity that neurodiversity is celebrated, using current employees to back up that assertion. Train managers in how to interview and assess neurodiverse applicants. Interviews must be scheduled and reliable, with plenty of information up front.  Ensure that post hire support is available with both visible means and better trained managers who communicate and support differently.  All of this must be done with an eye on running everything online, fully fit for the new post-Covid-19 world.

Why do this?
Covid-19 has proved that rapid change can create opportunity. I’d like to challenge you to bring in people you didn’t have access to previously due to the way you hire simply not working for them. You can access a pool of talent that can alter your way of thinking, create new ways of working and protect your long-term future.

Forward-looking employers have tasked us, in collaboration with Purple, to create a “Covid-19-proofed” recruiting system that works better for neurodiverse candidates. Companies know they need to get this right during the pre-recruitment, recruitment and post-hire stages. They may want to tap into a different talent pool, or to do something positive in the disability space; the outcome is the same. A workplace that attracts, recruits and retains skills specific to the neurodiverse community.

Lucy James
Director, Quarsh
9 June 2020


Quarsh is a recruitment specialist working in partnership with Purple to support businesses to attract, recruit and retain talented neurodiverse candidates. A more detailed outline of the survey findings and details of our proposition are available. Please contact Lucy James at Quarsh or Mike Adams at Purple.

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