Supporting candidates and employees with Dyspraxia

People with dyspraxia have a lot to offer employers who know how to use their talents. Their strengths and challenges often make them determined, self-aware and empathetic. These are some ways to make recruitment more dyspraxia-friendly…  

Look for the skills and qualities most needed most for the role

Evidence shows that people whose abilities are consistently within the average range are more likely to be employed than those whose abilities are more varied, even if they are outstanding in some areas. This can put dyspraxic and neurodiverse candidates at a disadvantage. Think about which qualities are most important in a particular role. Do candidates really need to be strong in five or ten different areas, or are one or two most important? If someone is strong in some areas but weaker in others, would they be better in another role, or can the role be adapted? Relate qualities directly to the role and avoid vague descriptions like “Self-starter” or “Great attention to detail.” 

Be encouraging  

Try to recruit positively rather than giving candidates the impression you want to reject them. Job requirements which sound critical: (‘Please don’t apply unless you have at least five years’ experience’ or “Please include the following or your application will go in the bin”) are more likely to deter applicants who are under-confident than unsuitable. If possible, make someone from your team available to answer questions about the role, and include the same information wherever the role is advertised.

Make sure interviewing brings out the best in dyspraxic and neurodiverse candidates 

Processing differences can affect how we come across in interviews, especially being aware of our body language, or answering very open-ended questions. It can sometimes be difficult to understand why we’re being asked something, so we might hesitate, give the ‘wrong’ answer, or try to pick apart a question. Always ask questions one at a time, and be as specific as possible, for example: “Tell us something you were good at doing in your last job” rather than “Tell us a little bit about yourself.” It can also be difficult to picture ourselves in hypothetical situations, and we often respond better to a challenging situation in reality than we imagine, so “What would you do if…?” questions might not reflect our true ability. Repeat questions or prompt if needed, without judgement, especially if you ask for a certain number of examples. 

Use task-based interviewing to get the best from neurodiverse candidates 

Setting tasks similar to the role is often a better measure of talent than a CV or general interview questions. Wherever possible, let candidates complete tasks in a natural environment rather than under exam conditions, and allow the same amount of time as they would have in the role for them to do so.

Think about practical adjustments that could make roles more inclusive 

Adjustments to non-essential criteria can help to attract more disabled candidates: For example: Do candidates need to be able to drive or have their own transport? Does the role need to be office-based, or can most work be done from home with just occasional meetings in person? Is job-sharing or flexible working possible? 

Remember that what works for people who are neurodiverse often works best for everyone 

Supporting dyspraxic or neurodiverse people at work is simple, affordable and good for everyone at work. Even if someone who is neurodiverse needs little or no practical support to do their job, an open and inclusive workplace will benefit all employees. And if a neurodiverse person feels supported at work, they are more likely to recommend you to their family and friends, leading to more business.

by Maxine Roper

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