Undercover Manager Activities
Chapter 4: Interviewing Job Applicants
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Neurodiverse Job Applicants
Neurodiversity is an umbrella term that describes across-person variations in cognition, learning, and attention. This activity focuses specifically on autistic job applicants (acknowledging that autism is only one example of neurodiversity). Autism spectrum disorder encompasses a wide range of conditions characterized by atypical behavior, communication, and social experiences. Autistic applicants may have high attention to detail, high levels of concentration, and keen observational skills. However, autistic people experience unemployment at significantly higher rates than neurotypical people due to barriers in organizational hiring processes. This activity is designed to help you recognize – and address – those barriers in their own organization.
Start by conducting some outside research on organizations that have launched strategic initiatives to increase employment of neurodiverse individuals. We’ve included some starting resources below. You might wish to focus on employers that operate in your local context, or reach out to local nonprofit organizations that promote neurodiverse employment for additional resources. The aim is to identify organizational practices that support the hiring of neurodiverse individuals. Some of those practices involve prioritizing work samples and skill tests over interviews and/or modifying interviews (e.g., providing questions in advance or avoiding nuanced open-ended questions). Think about how these practices might benefit groups beyond neurodiverse applicants (e.g., applicants with limited work experience or applicants interviewing in a non-native language). Then, consider whether those hiring practices could (or should) be implemented in your own organization. Focus on an entry-level role for which your employer regularly recruits and has developed standardized (possibly multi-stage) hiring procedures.
The activity is a great opportunity for you to link recruiting (Chapter 2) and hiring (Chapters 3 and 4) content: Companies can sometimes recruit an underutilized talent pool without recognizing the barriers their hiring process imposes on members of that same pool. You can return to this activity later when you read Chapter 5 (Onboarding New Employees) and Chapter 11 (Creating an Inclusive Workplace), to consider ways that your employer could be more welcoming and supportive of neurodiverse employees.
Neurodiverse hiring initiatives:
Bernik, M. (2022, February 16). Is your company inclusive of neurodivergent employees? Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2022/02/is-your-company-inclusive-of-neurodivergent-employees
Caminiti, S. (2022, April 20). JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft among growing number of companies turning to neurodiverse workers to help meet need for talent. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/04/20/-neurodivergent-workers-help-companies-meet-the-demand-for-talent.html
Ossola, A. (2021, March 26). Neurodiverse applicants are revolutionizing the hiring process. Quartz. https://qz.com/work/1981466/neurodiverse-applicants-are-revolutionizing-the-hiring-process
Topsfield, J. (2022, August 6). The autism advantage - why businesses are hiring autistic people. The Sydney Morning Herald. https://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace/the-autism-advantage-why-businesses-are-hiring-autistic-people-20220804-p5b767.html
Williams, A. (2022, October 13). What to do if I'm neurodivergent and I want a career in IBM. LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-do-im-neurodivergent-i-want-career-ibm-andrew-williams/