Are you overlooking neurodivergent candidates?

March 28, 2023 Updated: January 31, 2024 5 min read

Diversity and inclusion have, in recent years, become increasingly important to many businesses. Unfortunately, your hiring process alone may be causing you to overlook neurodivergent candidates–who could, in the long run, be some of your most effective, productive employees. Diverse organizations see higher levels of creativity and innovation. Neurodivergent talent in your company is often ideally positioned to come up with the best solutions for many of the challenges you may face. If you aren’t able to bring those candidates in, however, you may not get to enjoy those benefits for your company.

Lever’s Guide to Hiring and Retaining Neurodiverse Talent outlines several key tactics you can utilize in order to improve your hiring process and attract more neurodivergent candidates. By examining those tactics–making job applications more accessible; revising critical pages on your website; updating your job descriptions for clarity; and implementing a feedback system that will allow you to determine if there is anything about your hiring process that is causing you to mistakenly overlook potential neurodivergent talent–you can put yourself in a better position to determine what challenges might be standing in the way of potential neurodivergent candidates and improve your hiring practices to make them more accessible for all candidates.

Do you notice any of these potential problems with your hiring practices?

1. Your applications are inaccessible to neurodivergent candidates.

Take a hard look at your applications and the process that candidates may need to go through in order to access them. Do candidates have to jump through unnecessary hoops or dig through your website in order to find the application? Does your application include mandatory questions that may prove difficult for a neurodivergent candidate to answer? Consider having existing neurodivergent employees review your application process or bring in a neurodiversity expert to look over your process.

2. Your hiring process is unnecessarily complex.

Many neurodivergent individuals, from those with ADHD or autism to those who suffer from anxiety, will find a complex hiring process difficult to navigate. They may find interviews extremely stressful, especially if they do not know what to do next or how to best connect with your company. If you have a long, complicated hiring process, neurodivergent candidates may end up self-selecting out, both by removing themselves from the candidate pool and by choosing not to apply for your company in the first place.

3. You aren’t looking in the right locations.

If you only use standard job boards and recruiters–especially recruiters who don’t share your focus on diversity–neurodivergent candidates may not even know that you have open positions, and they may not feel comfortable applying for them even they happen to notice their availability. To help make your jobs more accessible, consider using job boards and career sites dedicated to helping neurodivergent candidates move into the ideal positions for their needs.

4. Your business doesn’t seem friendly to neurodiverse candidates.

Take a close look at your Career page, your About page, and any other pages that candidates might access as they try to learn more about your business. Ask yourself several key questions.

  • Do those pages show your commitment to diversity in hiring, or do they tend to display a one-dimensional interest in “typical” candidates?
  • Are your pages inaccessible to neurodiverse candidates in any way? (Think flashing banners, pop-ups, GIFs, or videos that auto-play, especially if they include high volumes.)
  • Do your pages include ambiguous language or confusing instructions?

If you notice any of those problems on your pages, it could be that you’re putting a block in the way of neurodiverse candidates before they even try to apply.

5. Your job descriptions are unclear (and do not seem appealing to neurodivergent employees).

Candidates can learn a great deal from job descriptions–and they’re using that information to decide if they want to apply for your company. Your job descriptions and ads will tell candidates:

  • What you expect from your employees
  • Some of the responsibilities associated with the role
  • What qualifications and hard skills do you expect from interested candidates
  • What soft skills do you prioritize

If you aren’t putting adequate effort into your job descriptions, however, they may be leading neurodivergent candidates away from your business. Carefully consider, for example, the soft skills that you consider necessary for a given position. If your company seems to prioritize strong communication skills, it may lead neurodivergent candidates to avoid your company due to what they perceive as potential future difficulties.

6. Candidates have no idea what to expect when they connect with your business.

Typical job seekers may spend as many as 5 to 10 hours preparing for an interview, especially if they have a deep interest in the company or have not taken an interview in a while. A neurodivergent candidate, on the other hand, may spend even more time preparing for the interview. They may need to model interviews or prepare for exactly what to expect from your hiring process. If they cannot access that information and, therefore, have no idea what to expect from you, they may choose to pursue employment with a company that is better prepared to deal with their needs.

7. You routinely throw unexpected information or requirements at your candidates.

Neurodivergent people often struggle with unexpected changes to their plans or routines. An interview or a shift to a new job is automatically a significant change. Neurodivergent candidates may spend more time gathering their energy or preparing for the demands of that position. If you deviate from what they perceive as the plan, it may throw them off their game, leading to a more uncomfortable interview, higher anxiety, or more difficulty putting their best foot forward. While there are some changes that may not be avoidable–changing interviewers due to illness, for example–your hiring process needs to be clear-cut and clearly laid out in order to help neurodivergent candidates perform their best. Structured interviews can help with this.

Hiring neurodiverse candidates shows your commitment to diversity and can help set your business up for higher overall levels of success. Be aware of the places within your hiring process that are most likely to exclude neurodivergent candidates. Doing so will allow you to put tools in place that foster and encourage diversity and design a hiring process that is inclusive to all, not some candidates. Need help improving your hiring diversity? Contact us to learn how our tools can help.


Scot is a successful HR technology entrepreneur and advocate for conscious inclusion. Passionate about helping others succeed, he’s committed to improving the hiring process for employers and job-seekers every step of the way.

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