Feel the fear and speak up anyway

Picture shows a little boy in hardhat with megaphone on light background

I’ve read that people are scared of disabled people. Not the people per se, but the disability itself. For me, this statement brings to mind scary cartoon monsters. They are called names like Mad Dog Multiple Sclerosis. Anxiety Annie. Dr Depression. It just seems a touch silly that people are scared of disabilities. Even ones with evil villain names.

But scared they are.

I first saw this when visiting a recently paralysed friend in the hospital. She was very young and had experienced a nasty accident. The tragedy of the accident sent ripples through her local community. But the tragedy continued (tragedy is mean like that) when hardly any of her friends visited. Endless days in a rehabilitation ward with no visitors are no fun at all.

They were scared. Scared that this could happen to someone at such a young age. Scared of what the future might hold. Scared of the hospital environment. Scared that they might not be able to do anything to help. But most of all scared about not knowing what to say. It’s worth remembering that most disabled people would far prefer you to say the wrong thing (with the right intentions) than nothing at all.  And disabled people are… just people. The same as anyone else.

As a nurse, I quickly became very comfortable talking about most subjects. I can ask intimate questions with ease. I’ve shared heartbreaking situations with people on a daily basis. And I’ve also become skilled at spotting the small daily moments that make life special. And yet, it is still hard to talk about my own health. Or sit side by side with the pain of someone I love. It’s still hard to bring my whole self to a work environment. And it’s still hard to be a person that talks openly on subjects that can make us all squirm a little. But please do. Please speak out. Because far worse than feeling scared or saying the wrong thing, is staying silent.

To learn more about disability etiquette click here.

Empowering abilities – what you need to know…

Image shows three face symbols. The first is sad, the second has been turned into a smile by a person’s hand and the third is neutral.

I recently read an article that made me grin. Dustin Maynard entitled his article ‘The Secret to Disability Inclusion’. It made a strong impression because everything he said was just so darn true. Disability inclusion isn’t as complicated as people think. Focus on what people can do, rather than what they can’t. Look for strengths first, look at what people can offer. Focus on ability, not the disability. Once this mindset is in place, the rest gets easier. Here are three simple mindset leaps for you and your organisation to soar with:

Mindset leap 1: Why hire disabled people? Won’t it be a load of hassle?

Quit looking at the negatives about disability that you see in the media. There are rather a lot of benefits your organisation can’t afford to miss out on. Are you ready? Here are just a few…

If you include disabled people in your search for talent, you’ve got a wider talent pool to recruit from and a greater chance of finding the best person for the job. Disabled people tend to stay in their jobs longer, increasing retention. We are just as productive as non-disabled people but have fewer workplace accidents. And less sick time. Disabled people and their families are consumers with valuable spending power (£249 billion a year in the UK alone). Can you afford to ignore this? The costs associated with inclusion are far less than you might think, and the benefits far outweigh them.

Mindset leap 2: What if we do/say the wrong thing?

There’s no doubt about it. This is a scary mindset to overcome. It’s easy to say the wrong thing, but equally easy to ask what language is preferred. And it’s easy to learn. One of the best benefits of employing disabled people is that we’ll help your organisational culture shift naturally. We offer a different viewpoint, a fresh perspective as it were. Inclusive cultures attract more customers and the best candidates. Diversity increases both innovation and the bottom line.

To help people jump over this hurdle, Evenbreak developed a best practice portal. It allows everyone in the organisation to have access to a comprehensive and practical set of resources. And it’s for everyone, not just senior leaders. The resources are kept bite-sized, so you can dip in and learn as time allows. And it’s developed by the real experts: disabled people and employers who are already implementing best practice.

Mindset leap 3: How did you say we start again?

Just do it. Have a read of Dustin’s excellent article. Look at ability rather than disability. And if you get in a pickle and want a hand, drop us a line at info@evenbreak.co.uk

Invictus Games (in the every day)….

Written by Corporate Engagement Manager, Adam Etherington
 
Who else has been watching the Invictus Games on the television last week? I’m amazed at the passion, tenacity, courage and determination of the athletes. So much so, that I wrote this blog and dedicate it to the many disabled athletes that the ‘I AM’ logo represents.
 

Image shows a scrap of paper with the words ‘what are you waiting for?’
I watched the ex-Army Sergeant, that had three of his limbs blown off when on tour in Afghanistan, as he swam at the Games. He won two gold medals, using just one arm. The whole event says so much about the character and the attitude of the individuals taking part. They are an inspiration to me and many other disabled people across the world. I hope the following doesn’t strike you as too indulgent, but I have to get a few things off my mind.
 
I am Disabled
 
I am a 53-year-old man with Multiple Sclerosis
 
I am working for Evenbreak – an organisation that helps inclusive employers attract and retain talented disabled people.
 
I am working from home. This benefits both myself, my employer and the environment.
 
I am working with a brilliant team of disabled colleagues.
 
I am good at my job.
 
I am not a burden to Evenbreak.
 
I am a Corporate Engagement Manager.
 
I am loving what I am doing.
 
I am learning from Jane Hatton, who founded Evenbreak’s niche disability job board seven years ago.
 
I am impressed that we have over 30,000 disabled candidates registered on our job board.
 
I am calling out to large employers. Let me illustrate the advantages you’ll gain from employing talented disabled people.
 
I am positive. I don’t give up.
 
I am reaching out to you at adame@evenbreak.co.uk
 
Do you? Motivate others?  Appreciate the value of different abilities? Understand the business case for employing disabled people? Get in touch.

Boosting your confidence when job seeking

Confidence is important when job-seeking. If we don’t have confidence in our own abilities, why would we expect a prospective employer to have confidence in them? Unfortunately, being unemployed can make it difficult to remain confident – particularly when we may have faced a number of rejections, or worse, had our CVs completely ignored. This is, sadly, a common situation for disabled candidates. Here are some suggestions for boosting that confidence again:

Carry out a Skills Audit

Write down all the skills, qualities, experience, knowledge, talents and abilities that you have acquired in your life. Not just the ones from any jobs you may have done previously, but also skills gained outside of paid work – in voluntary work, during sports or hobbies, community roles such as school governor or pastoral roles, through travelling and so on. Ask people who know you to add to the list. Seeing a long list of abilities you have reminds you what you have to offer and can help restore confidence. Don’t forget the skills you’ve learned in coping with being disabled – creativity, patience, determination etc.

Goal-setting

Successfully achieving goals can be very satisfying, and help to boost confidence levels. Make sure that the goals you set yourself are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) so that you don’t set yourself up to fail. Relevant goals could include, for example, setting aside a morning to create three different types of CV to decide which sells your skills best, and then you have a template to adapt for each job you go for. Or perhaps deciding to research an employer you would like to work for and sending them a speculative CV and cover letter by the end of the week. This makes you feel more pro-active, more in control, and continually moving towards the ultimate goal of landing that dream job.

Control your “Internal Dialogue”

We all have that little voice in our heads, and it tends to sabotage rather than help. You know, the one that says “you’re useless, you’ll never get a job, no point in even trying” in response to being rejected for a job. The good news is that this is your voice, and therefore you can change it, or at least challenge it. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts like this, challenge them. OK, so you didn’t get that job. Instead of catastrophising the situation, instead try to think “on this occasion they thought someone else met their criteria more closely than me, well – it’s their loss, what can I learn from this before putting it behind me and concentrating on the next job application?”. Make sure your inner voice talks to you in the same way you would talk to someone you care about.

Putting things in Context

Having a job title, and all that comes with it (income, self-esteem etc), is important, but it doesn’t define who you are as a person. As human beings in this society our job title is part of our identity, but only part. In every other respect we are still the same person as we were when we were last working. We have the same personality, relationships, friendships, skills, interests. If you are a parent, for example, being a good Mum or Dad is far more important than what your job title happens to be. Your children and family and friends won’t judge you on whether or not you happen to be in work at the moment, and neither should you. It’s important, but there are far more important things.

Fake it ‘til you Make it!

Whilst our mood can affect our behaviour, it can work the other way round too. If you behave as if you were full of confidence, you will start to feel more confident. For example, if you go into a job interview telling yourself you are no good, you failed the last four interviews you went for and will probably fail this one as well, you almost certainly will, as this will show in the way you behave. However, if you tell yourself that you have looked at the job description and know that you can do all of the tasks on there, you have all the skills they are looking for and you would be really great in this role, you will behave and look and sound much more confident – greatly improving your chances of success.

I hope these suggestions have been helpful and that you soon regain that all-important confidence you once had, helping future employers have confidence in you too.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak click here

To find jobs on Evenbreak click here

And to find out more about best practice around disability in the workplace take a peek here

Want a welcoming workplace?  Accessibility isn’t just about the physical building.

 

Here are 5 things you can do to make your workplace more accessible for disabled visitors.

I love to travel and visit new people and places. Planning, not so much. When I am well, travel is my favourite past time. I rarely plan. When I am unwell, it becomes overwhelming and planning is essential. For most disabled people, planning is not a choice. The outcome of a visit often depends on three things: The quality and depth of information available. The accessibility of the destination. And the welcome you receive. Here’s how to become part of the solution:

 

1) Check the ‘how to find us’ information on your organisation’s website.

Does it give simple, explicit instructions for all types of travel? Does it include a direct telephone number to call for directions if lost? Does it tell the visitor how accessible your workplace is? Every tourism destination should have an accessibility guide. A quick google of a few local venues shows access information on all. Why don’t businesses do the same? Disabled people work too! For a quick and easy win, take a photograph of the entrance to your organisation’s building.  Add it to the ‘how to find us’ page of your website. It will make life easier for everyone that visits.

2) Review your signage.

Any community nurse, paramedic or postman, will tell you how bad we Brits are at showing people how to find us. Subtle, signage that blends into the building might be appealing, but it won’t help your visitors find you. Consider making life easier with signage that is clear and visible from a distance and fitted in an appropriate place. If that isn’t possible then a photograph of your organisation’s building becomes even more important.

3) Consider asking your visitor if they have any additional needs before they visit.

Having an open conversation about a disability is hard for many people.  So much so, that many people avoid the subject altogether. But it can make all the difference for a disabled visitor.  It’s completely reasonable to ask if a person has any additional needs.  And it is completely reasonable for a disabled person to choose whether to disclose those needs. But choice is everything. Click here to learn more about disability etiquette.

4) Are your staff disability aware?

Esi Hardy, MD of Celebrating Disability, talked to me about the importance of a culture of inclusion in the workplace: “You can implement all the right tools, policies and procedures to make disabled customers feel welcome in your business, but your staff are quite often the first port of call. If they don’t have the right attitude or don’t understand disability, all your efforts will go to waste. Embedding a culture of inclusion supports your staff to understand what is expected of them in terms of empathy, diversity, tolerance and acceptance”.  Effective diversity training empowers staff and experience tells us that companies that value an inclusive culture are a better experience for everyone, employees and customers alike.

5) How accessible is your website?

Everyone values an easy to navigate website. Interestingly, websites that are made accessible for people with sight impairment or issues with manual dexterity are far easier for everyone to use. Basic tools such as Alt Tags, that allow screen readers to read a picture on the screen, will enable a blind or partially sighted person to experience what you are trying to show them. And it’s not just users. Search engines prefer them too! Designing for accessibility is just good business. To find out more about making your service accessible, click here.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak click here

To find jobs on Evenbreak click here

And to find out more about best practice around disability in the workplace take a peek here

 

Anxiety and Accessibility – Is your workplace welcoming?

The words accessibility and workplace usually bring one image to mind: A visibly disabled person, in a wheelchair, trying to access a building. Ramps. Lifts. Revolving doors. For many disabled people, just getting to a venue takes careful planning.  But accessibility comes in many forms.  And can impact upon many conditions.

I went to a meet a new client in the centre of Birmingham last week. I knew I might have problems sleeping the night before. I knew I’d be nervous. I knew it would be a challenge. But it didn’t occur to me to troubleshoot potential obstacles before going. Not in enough detail.

I checked the train times in advance. I checked the address in advance. I bought tickets in advance. I picked my clothes in advance. Small things that can help manage anxiety.

But on the day, it was scorching hot. I’d only had a couple of hours sleep. 15 minutes from station to venue wasn’t enough time for me to find the place easily. I got lost. I panicked. I got hotter. Birmingham seemed very, very, busy and the buildings very, very, tall.

Anxiety can affect basic functioning…

Everyone looked too busy to stop and ask for directions. And the buildings weren’t clearly marked. Google maps kept kicking me out of walking directions and decided to stick me in a car instead. I stopped people and asked for help but three people later, I was still lost. I rang the receptionist and asked for directions but had to be transferred to another receptionist first. It got later. I panicked a bit more. I didn’t understand the directions. And I didn’t want to be late. Anxiety was clouding comprehension.

The client rang and asked if all was well. I admitted I was lost and rather stressed. She was calm and kind and directed me into the building. I was two minutes away! But in my panic, I hadn’t remembered the first line of the address and had walked past the building numerous times.

Mental health conditions can take something very simple and make it incredibly hard. Memory, concentration, breathing, the ability to control your body temperature. All are affected. I am an able-bodied person and I can physically travel anywhere very easily. Except I can’t. Sometimes, if the week has held many stressors, the mental obstacles are hard to overcome.

When I approached the building it was huge, glass, with a revolving door. No clear signposting. There was a security guard rather than the reception desk I expected.  When I arrived at the reception there were multiple instructions about how to get through security barriers and how to programme the lift. People to interact with. More challenges.

What can help?

But then, I got out of the lift and everything changed. The client met me at the second reception point, so I didn’t have to be directed again. She asked me if I’d like a comfort break first. I welcomed the opportunity to run cold water on my wrists to calm myself down. She led me to an office, offered me water and from the very first second I met her, to the very last second when I left, did everything she could to make me comfortable and at ease.

We had a successful meeting and she gave me clear directions back to the station. I got home easily with not one issue.  On my return, I realised that I have a disability. Internal and external factors affect how well I function. The client, in turn, had reflected upon the corporate environment that she felt so comfortable in. She asked me how could she have made my visit easier? In truth, she absolutely did make it easier. Had I been greeted with a less aware, less professional, or less compassionate person, the outcome could have been very different.

Next week I’ll be writing about how to make your workplace more accessible to those with a mental health condition.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak click here

To find jobs on Evenbreak click here

And to find out more about best practice around disability in the workplace take a peek here

 

Discussing Disability with a Prospective Employer

Generally speaking, looking for work is the same whether you are disabled or not. You need to find appropriate roles and then prove to the prospective employer that you are the best person for the job. However, if you are disabled, there is the added issue of when and how to talk about this. By law (Equality Act 2010) an employer is not allowed to ask you questions relating to health or disability (other than for monitoring purposes, or in order to provide reasonable adjustments in the recruitment process) until they offer you the job.

If your disability is not visible or obvious in any way, then the decision as to whether and when to mention it is completely up to you. If it is visible (for example, you use a wheelchair) or obvious (for example you have a speech impediment) then they will be aware of it at least by the interview stage.

Whether or not it is by choice, if we are going to discuss our disability, we need to put some thought into how we might do this. If the issue doesn’t arise until after you have been offered the job, then the decision is based on what you might gain by telling them. Usually this would be about any workplace adjustments you might need in order to perform at your best. This can be anything from a piece of specialised equipment to asking them to explain things very carefully to you if, say, you are autistic and tend to take things very literally.

If disability is raised by you during the recruitment process then there are a number of issues to consider. The first one is to allay any concerns you think they might have regarding your disability. So, for example, if you are sight-impaired and it looks like you will need expensive equipment, you could tell them that Access to Work will provide you with a large screen, or voice recognition software or whatever, and remember to reassure them that your performance was as good/accurate/quick as your colleagues in your previous role (or more so, if it was).

Their concerns will usually revolve around cost and/or performance, so you will need to let them know that neither of these will be an issue. It may be that your disability gives you an advantage. For example, if you are autistic you might say that you prefer to work without distraction, meaning you are far more productive than staff who might spend time chatting. Or that your attention to detail is better than most people’s.

There may be other benefits you can mention. In order to survive in a world not designed for disabled people, you may have developed skills such as creativity, determination, innovation and persistence. These are all attractive qualities to an employer.

Try to anticipate what their concerns might be, put them to rest, highlight any support or positives that might be available, and then go back to discussing your skills and talents and why you would be the right person for the job.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

I’ve Lost My Sight, Will I Lose My Job?

This is a guest post from Daniel Williams from Visualise Training and Consultancy.

Will I lose my job if I have lost my vision?

With over 200 people being diagnosed every week with an eye condition in work which cannot be corrected by the wearing of glasses or contact lenses, there is a lot of people struggling to keep working. Many will even be in fear of their uncertain future and may not get the advice and support they need.

Carry on working

Do you keep trying to work in your present job, retire or try and live on disability benefits? If you enjoy working, it can be hard, and you may not be able to afford early retirement, but how can your current workplace be adapted? It is often much easier to remain in your current employment than try and find new work.

Time to think

Avoid acting on impulse, because vision loss does not mean job loss. You may be suffering from shock at the diagnosis, and may experience a form of grief and loss regarding your vision, your thoughts may be that you can no longer carry out the tasks you are employed to do, there is lots of help and assistance available and a specialist visual impairment work-place assessor can assess your needs, recommend solutions to your difficulties, to ensure you get the correct reasonable adjustments in place to carry out your role effectively,

What’s your job?

Talk to your workplace assessor about what type of work you do, and where and when you’re experiencing visual difficulties. The more help and advice you can get to maximize your existing vision, the more effectively and safely you’ll be able to continue working.

Workplace Adjustments

You may be having trouble with reading text on paper, completing forms, participating in team meetings or training, you may be having difficulties with the colour on your computer screen, font size or even just finding the mouse on the screen.  Your text on the keyboard may be difficult to see, and you find yourself with neck and back problems you have never experienced before. You may be troubled by headaches and need to explore the reason why? the lighting in your place of work may not be sufficient.  You may not feel confident navigating the workplace, negotiating stairs, or new areas to work. You may be making mistakes at work, or inadvertently bumping into things, perhaps your having difficulty recognising your colleagues.  You, the people with whom you work, including your employer, may have limited experience or knowledge about vision loss and low vision,  A visual impairment specialist workplace assessor can work with you to establish the difficulties you are having at work, understanding your individual need and what workplace adjustments can be put in place to assist you to overcome the barriers you are facing.

There are many solutions to these issues you may be facing, for example, magnifiers suitable for your needs, software that is able to read or magnify your screen, keyboards that are larger and easier to see.  Emotional support/job coaching to help you come to terms with your acquired sight loss. Lamps and lights that emit daylight rather than yellow light.  There is a vast array of specialist equipment available, and the important factor is for your employer to arrange a workplace needs assessment specifically in visual impairment, this person will be trained to identify and assess your individual needs, make the right recommendations for equipment and signpost you to the correct services to help overcome the barriers you are facing.  The assessor will take a holistic approach ensuring your health and wellbeing in all aspects of your life.

A realistic outlook

Are there any duties which you need to accept you can no longer perform? More obvious things are driving a vehicle, handling or moving equipment, or potentially dangerous or hazardous items.

Make a list of the essential tasks in your job that you will need to do to remain in your current employment. How can these be resolved? Or is there a member of the workforce who could perform a difficult or impossible task for you? Is there another responsibility that you could perform to replace this? After a diagnosis of sight loss, talking to your employer in a realistic way, offering pragmatic suggestions and negotiating options, is vital, not only for your health and wellbeing being but also for your employer to totally understand the difficulties you are experiencing.

Employer perception 

You may be the first person your employer has come across who has a visual impairment.  Some employers may embrace this, ensuring you have all the correct reasonable adjustments in place to fulfil your role, others may not know where to start.  They may not be aware of all the technological and environmental solutions that can aid you in your role.  Some employers may think “how will you use a computer”? “will you be safe carrying out your role”? but much of this is because employers do not know where to begin when seeking help.

Learning curve

As the change in your circumstances is new to you too, you will begin discovering more about workplace adaptations and the technology that can support you best.

It’s off to work I go

Getting to and from work may present additional difficulty, there are solutions to this and your work place assessor can advise.  When you arrive at work, you may have difficulty moving around your job site. Professionals, such as a rehabilitation officers, can give you huge support and teach you how to orientate yourself; taking a holistic approach, helping you to manage all aspects of your daily life and giving you the necessary tools to live and work as independently as possible. 

Your rights in employment

If you are blind or partially sighted, the Equality Act 2010 protects you from different types of discrimination at work.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

A Note to Employers about Unconventional CVs

Will van Zwanenberg talks about his experience of presenting unconventional CVs, and how employers can misinterpret CVs:

As a would-be employer, if you received a CV from a job applicant that didn’t include a complete chronology of their past employment history, what would you be likely to think?

Would you assume that the candidate had something to hide? After all, why else might they not include this information? Would you be minded to treat their application with suspicion? Would your natural inclination be to simply add their CV to the reject pile and send them a standard rejection letter? Would you do this no matter how impressive their CV otherwise was? How likely would you be to test your assumptions? Would you take the view that you had better things to be doing with your time than enquire as to why the applicant had done this?

The reason for asking these questions is because I want to introduce the idea that in all probability, if the candidate has omitted to include a chronology and they’re disabled (something they make elect to not reveal at the point when they first apply for the vacancy), then there’s likely to be a very good reason why, and it almost certainly hasn’t got anything to do with having something to hide. In other words, what you imagine to be the explanation will most likely be completely wrong. It’s far more likely that the candidate has, what I would suggest, were totally justifiable reasons for not including date information. If I’m right, haven’t you just unfairly discriminated against the candidate? Might it also be the case that you have thrown away any opportunity you might otherwise have had to interview an ideal candidate who could be a very valuable asset to you?

I’m an evenbreak candidate. I’ve uploaded my CV on to their database. My CV doesn’t include date information. Here’s why:

The fact that I am autistic has meant, despite applying for numerous jobs that I’m overqualified for and would actually be ideal for, that I have spent a very long period of time being unemployed. It’s also meant that I haven’t been to stay in any of the jobs I’ve had for long. Insofar as I’ve had any sort of career, it’s been decidedly disjointed. None of this is easy to explain in a 2 page CV. Indeed, if I had included date information, how would a prospective employer discern that this was the explanation unless I’d included a lengthy explanation in a covering letter with that they’d be unlikely to read or pay much attention to?

The gaps can be off-putting for unenlightened employers, and they bear no relation to my ability to do the job. My CV contains all the facts which should be important to a potential employer – my experience, attributes and qualifications. You don’t, or at least shouldn’t, evaluate a candidate’s experience and skill level by the length of time they’ve been in a job.

The cumulative effect of years spent out of work due to depression, stress and ill-health, a failure to secure employment, as well as a prolonged but misguided period spent as a house husband, coupled with my very disjointed career history, and long periods of time spent pursuing different courses of education, has meant that on paper at least, my career history is fractured to the point of appearing incoherent – or at least without significant structure or direction. This has only ever served to disadvantage me and to get me rejected for interviews without the employer ever having actually spoken to me, or for him to become au-fait with my circumstances. In other words, it’s become a barrier that has guaranteed I won’t be considered – even though many of the jobs I have applied for I have been overqualified for and could do well, standing on my head. I leave the dates off my CV in order to circumvent this.

This has been the advice I have received from senior HR people with years of experience. The advice has been to encourage employers to not focus on the when, but rather what I actually did in the past, and what I’m actually capable of. Indeed, what I have the potential to do should they decide to employ me.  This is what an they really need to know. Hopefully, by not including date information, I can encourage them to consider me on these terms and not to automatically reject me. The problem is, I’m dammed if I do, and I’m dammed if I don’t.

Now of course, my reasons for doing this are to do with being autistic. But I hopefully you can easily imagine how long periods being unemployed due to a disability could just as easily apply to other disabled candidates. So, what’s the central message I want to get across here? Answer: don’t jump to conclusions and be prepared to investigate.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs

Alternatives to Interviews

There is much evidence (e.g. here and here) that interviews are a poor way of assessing a candidate’s abilities to do the job required. We tend to appoint the candidate who is best at selling themselves at interview, rather than the best person for the job. Not all candidates are good at selling themselves (for example, people on the autism spectrum, or people with learning difficulties).

There is also a risk of conscious or unconscious bias coming into play at interviews. The interviewer may have prejudices against certain groups of people, for example women, gay people or older people, which they may or may not be aware of.

The other disadvantage with interviews or assessment centres, is that it requires the candidate to travel to a specific location.

Thankfully there are alternative, and much more effective, methods available to you.

Tests

It may be more accurate to test candidates on relevant tasks that they would be expected to perform in the role. So, for example, an autistic candidate may find it difficult to articulate their expertise in coding, but could demonstrate their abilities with a test accompanied with clear and explicit instructions. A person with learning difficulties may be able to show you how they meet and greet people in a hospitality environment more easily than describe their skills to you.

Work experience

This is particularly useful for people with learning difficulties, but can also be effective for other candidates. It also gives you a much more accurate picture of their abilities, potential, enthusiasm, personality and capabilities in the environment they would be working in.

Observation

Observing candidates carrying out tasks at their current place of work or educational establishment can be useful if their current work is similar to the post they are applying for.

Supported internships and training schemes

These are described in more detail in our best practice portal, but having a person work with you and be trained in your place of work with the support they require means that at the end of the programme you have a very clear and reliable idea of whether their skills match the role.

Online tests

These have the benefit that they can be carried out in the candidate’s home, saving on travelling issues, and in an environment where the candidate feels more confident and hopefully has assistive technology as required.

Gaming

Whilst psychometric tests have their limitations, there are new online games that can be used to measure a candidate’s behaviours. A good example of these can be found at Ipsemet, enabling candidates to “play” a game which involves making decisions and demonstrating how they react under different conditions.

There is not a “one size fits all” and not all of these methods will suit every candidate or every role, but it is useful to remember that there are alternatives to the traditional interview which can often be a more reliable predictor of future performance.

To advertise jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/employers/

To find jobs on Evenbreak go here – http://www.evenbreak.co.uk/jobs