Our top tips to make assessment centres accessible:
Here are our 5 top tips in creating accessible assessment centres that are inclusive to all great minds that may think differently:
One of the most common and easiest adjustments is proving extra time on written tasks – this is especially important for those with dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD. As well as this, having the agenda sent to applicants before the day of assessment, having information printed out, or having an assistant available to support them, are all good things to consider for a neurodivergent person. Maybe even consider if these adjustments could be extended to other candidates as well.
How much extra time? You should make the adjustments depending on a person’s needs. There is no fixed measure for what reasonable adjustments should look like with neurodivergence. A person’s needs should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Invite the applicant to share what changes they have had before that has helped them, or what they believe would support them with this assessment centre.
These adjustments aren’t to give an unfair advantage to neurodivergents, it is just to ensure the conditions of the assessment centre allow them to demonstrate their strengths as much as a neurotypical individual. The way in which you test can impact this too…
Always ask yourself if the assessment centre or interviews are an honest and authentic way of evaluating an individual’s ability to succeed in the role. Give applicants various opportunities or situations to prove their abilities as part of the assessment centre. These varying challenges should be for all applicants, whether they have neurodivergence or not.
This is because when creating your assessment process, you need to evaluate applicant’s ability via a range of tasks or activities. Having a variety of tasks enables you to gain a more extensive view of the applicant’s strengths and will lead to a more informed decision. By doing this, you are not overlooking exceptional applicants based on only one task. Most individuals have a preference for a particular kind of an assessment. While some applicants may flourish in an interview setting, others may fear them.
If an applicant reveals neurodivergence like dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism or ADHD etc., try to be as understanding to reasonable adjustments as possible. Create a space that allows applicants to disclose any neurodiversity they have at different times during the assessment centre.
They may not realise they require adjustments until they are faced with the situation on the day and while there may not be any obligation for applicants to mention any neurodivergence they may have, it is often very unsettling for the individuals that do wish to disclose.
One way you can aid a neurodivergent person to disclose could be using a check-list with various choices of conditions that a person can tick on the application form. Try and make sure you have given a completed list so no one feels their neurodiversity has not been considered. It is often wise to provide an open answer box which gives applicants the opportunity to specify their neurodivergence themselves, or to disclose the amount they feel comfortable with.
When assessing neurodivergent applicants, it is vital to make sure that the information given during the assessment centre is as clear as possible. This is necessary for all applicants, but it can be an especially tough obstacle for those with autism. For example, someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can sometimes find it more challenging to understand vagueness or the use of metaphors in conversation.
All applicants must know exactly what they are required to do and what they are being assessed on. Be direct with your language to improve fairness, and be willing to adjust your delivery when needed. Videos or audio explanations may be an idea for those who take in information better in this format.
Continuously ask yourself if you are being as fair as possible during the assessment centre when evaluating all applicants. Fairness can become an especially important area to think about if you have applicants who have disclosed a neurodivergence. You do not want managers making judgements on an applicant based on an incorrect current understanding of what they know about that neurodivergence.
This is common as a person’s knowledge of a neurodivergence will often be associated with another person they have met previously. It is crucial to recognise that neurodivergent people are all individuals and may be affected by their neurodivergence in a different way to someone else with the same learning difference – this is especially the case for those who have dyspraxia or autism, which can affect people in very different ways.
In conclusion, be conscious of the influence that unconscious biases can have when selecting candidates. Assure that all tasks measuring applicant’s abilities are directly aligned to a requirement that is needed for the role and consider any other measures to further lessen the influence of unconscious bias. One way may to be provide extensive unconscious bias training to those involved in the recruitment process.