It’s a sad truth that 80% of British Columbia’s population who have autism are either unemployed or in work that doesn’t make use of their unique skills and talents. Many co-operations, including JP Morgan Chase and Microsoft, are beginning to realize the myriad benefits of hiring people with autism, from the out of the box thinking they bring to the change in empathy that they inspire in others.
These individuals represent a vast untapped pool of game-changing hires, but they often fall at the first hurdle of getting a job due to hiring processes that heavily favor neurotypical workers. A sit down interview process requires the candidate to “read” a whole range of subtle linguistic and physical clues, and talking in the hypothetical will not reveal what a person with ASD is fully capable of. To create an inclusive hiring process, you’ll need to make these three changes:
- Focus on practical skills – it’s becoming more commonly accepted that face to face interviews are not good predictors of job success for any potential employee, let alone those on the spectrum. A better approach is to find ways to allow candidates to demonstrate their practical skills through scenarios and challenges. A simple task of asking someone to build a tower from marshmallows in 5 minutes shows their problem solving skills, while watching them complete a jigsaw shows their pattern recognition abilities.
- Train the interviewers – when you set out to hire someone with autism, you will need to put your whole staff through training about how to successfully interact with them. The first stage of this training is to work with the people who will be conducting the hiring process as they will need to change their approaches to get the best from the potential candidates. This involves small level changes such as avoiding open ended questions to larger accommodation such as reducing the sensory input in the interview environment.
- Personalize the hiring process – a common adage for people on the spectrum is that once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Because the disorder is represented differently in each person, you can’t create an effective one size fits all hiring process that will allow you to find the best quality candidate. Not only will this personalized approach allow the individual to show you what they can do, but it also means that you really know them and what they can do even before they enter the building on day one.
As with all aspects of hiring someone with autism, many of these practices could and indeed should become part of your regular hiring process. The age old formula of resume and interview do not necessarily help you pick excellent candidates, and a change in interview techniques and structure to help find people with autism will also help you find more high quality neurotypical employees too. Here at Focus, we can help you create an inclusive hiring process that benefits everyone and puts the best quality candidates into your business.