Interviews, alternatives and adjustments For the interviewer to bear in mind: Make sure that you are treating all interviewees equally. Come up with consistent questions and an agreed scoring scheme for the responses. If you are weighting questions such that certain questions count more than others, make sure that the questions that assess the primary skills you need are weighted heaviest, and more secondary or peripheral skills are weighted less. Avoid allowing subconscious bias to interfere with a fair interview process. Make sure that your assessment only considers relevant information, and not body language, accent, dress, height, race, age, sex, or nation of origin. Bear in mind someone’s ability to describe relevant past experiences as an indicator of how they actually performed in the past or will perform in the future. Focus on the skills and experiences of the interviewee, and not how eloquently they speak. Remember, there is little evidence that untrained managers can assess how well an individual candidate ‘fits’ organisational culture in an interview. “Very often, the people who are best placed to do the job fall at the hurdle of an interview that's set up to fit only a tiny percentage of the people who applied.” Dean - Autistic freelance speaker Not all autistic candidates choose to disclose, (tell you about) their condition, as they may be worried that it will affect their chance of receiving a job offer. Autism is a hidden disability, and some will mask their anxiety so effectively that it will not occur to you that they need reasonable adjustments. It is always good practice to offer reasonable adjustments to all candidates in appointment processes. You should focus on reasonable adjustments that minimise the impact of interviewing on autistic candidates (and by extension, on everyone else ). If a candidate or employee discloses their condition to you, as an employer you are duty bound by the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for them. You could incorporate the following accommodations as standard into your recruitment policy. Bear in mind that a candidate may request these as part of the Reasonable Adjustments that they are entitled to: Provide candidates with detailed information about both the role and the nature of the interview in advance, for example the competencies that will be assessed. Where possible, provide interview questions in advance to allow reflective applicants to consider their responses. This is particularly relevant for roles where decision making doesn’t need to be instant and will allow all applicants, not simply those with autism, to better demonstrate their skills and experience. Invite written submissions, either in the form of permitting candidates to bring notes with them, or actually asking them to submit answers to interview questions in advance, which will then form the basis for the interview. Permit notes – some applicants might wish to write down questions, or refer to interview preparation during the interview. Ask one question at a time, to make it easier for applicants to answer and not have to worry about forgetting the other part of the question. Be specific, knowing how much information to convey can be a challenge for some applicants, so where possible define how many examples you might want and be prepared to tell a candidate when they have provided sufficient information. Invite clarifications – applicants may worry that if they don’t understand the question that this reflects badly upon them. You can mitigate this by proactively inviting them to ask you to clarify their answer, or ask the same question using different words if the answer is not what you expected. Avoid hypothetical questions which may be difficult for autistic applicants to answer with certainty, given the inherent unknowns. Instead focus on competency based questions, drawing on lived experience. Many applicants are nervous about requesting adjustments and some won’t know what adjustments might help them. If you can provide them with a list of potential adjustments in advance, you signal that you are an inclusive employer and help them understand what you might be able to do to help them perform at their best. Be proactive in offering adjustments Other options which may help reduce a candidates anxiety include: Providing proposed dates for interviewing as soon as possible The opportunity to request specific interview time (e.g. to avoid rush hour travel) Detailed directions to the interview location – ideally with a map and/or pictures of the front of the building Names and photos of the interviewers with details of their role in the company and what role each will play in the interview An explanation of the dress code Minimising the number of interviewers The use of other communication methods A photo of the room in which the interview is to be held Written confirmation by email of all arrangements made over the phone A visit to the site of the interview in advance An agenda for the interview detailing any exercises that are included in the process The option of bringing a supporter to attend the interview if necessary, to assist in communication between you and the candidate A copy of the interview questions in advance to all candidates The option to interview remotely instead of in person to avoid unnecessary travel The option to submit written responses to questions Alternatives to a formal interview, such as a job trial or work experience “All our candidates have had anxiety about work. We give them exposure to the office, meeting people, the working day. Work experience has given them the understanding of what work is like and gives them more confidence about being in the workplace.” Manager - Investment Bank Alternative or Additional Selection Processes to Interviewing “...to realize the benefits, most companies would have to adjust their recruitment, selection, and career development policies to reflect a broader definition of talent” Harvard Business Review The following assessments types could allow a person who may not perform at their best in an interview to prove their worth in other ways: Computerised testing – When designed well, these can used to identify strengths and characteristics. Try to ensure that they only focus on what is being assessed. Many assessments of this nature have recently been gamified, but in making them more attractive, distractions have been added to the task which may hinder some neurodivergent applicants. Portfolio assessment – Especially helpful in creative industries, a portfolio allows candidates to show the body of work detailing their relevant accomplishments, and in the process reveals their skill-level. Practical assessment – Particularly effective for more practical positions, you can have your applicant perform a short task that is relevant for your position. For example, you might have an applicant for a culinary position prepare a quick meal. Roleplay – Set a problem or a scenario that often occurs in your workplace and assess how candidates meet that challenge. Extended work placements – Assess how your candidate performs while working in the sought position for a period of time. This provides a holistic picture of the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses. Pre-recorded interviews – Have your applicant submit a written filmed response to a predetermined question or questions rather than a face to face interview. This removes the stress of travel and allows candidates to respond at their best, rather than under a social stress, which they would not face when actually working. Knowledge testing – A written or practical test may be appropriate as a part of jobs that require technical knowledge. For example, you might assess an Information Technologies applicant with a coding test. Work Experience - Often, the best way of assessing an applicant’s aptitude for a specific job is to see them perform that job in real time as a work trial. A number of large companies use internships and work experience programmes to pre-screen people they may later wish to employ. It has a number of other benefits: Giving the candidate chance to experience the reality of the job Offering an exploratory period where you can assess organisational fit Giving the company chance to establish, trial and tailor reasonable adjustments to match the actual needs of the individual Showing how they are likely to function as an employee Demonstrating their commitment and reliability It should be clear from the outset how long the period covers and how the work experience process works. If you are using it for recruitment, you should have a clear process determining and stating whether the candidate is appointed at the end of the work experience.