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October 28th 2020

Chelsea Kilpack

Best Practices for Hiring Neurodivergent Candidates & Tips for Autistic Candidates

Diversity & Inclusion, Hiring

In September of 2019, HireVue announced a partnership with Integrate Autism Employment Advisors, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help companies identify, recruit, and retain qualified professionals on the autism spectrum. Integrate’s vision is: Inclusive competitive employment for autistic individuals.

At the time of our initial partnership announcement, Integrate launched its first deployment of HireVue’s virtual interviewing and assessments technology to evaluate and coach hundreds of neurodivergent candidates in their network. In addition, they advised the HireVue team on product development to better service our clients and candidates.

Our partnership with Integrate has expanded to now include:

  1. An in-house internship program with Integrate to source and support HireVue in its effort to attract and retain top talent who are neurodivergent
  2. The creation of candidate and employer best practices documents for hiring neurodivergent candidates

From QA Intern to Software Engineer: Meet Alexa

HireVue posted its first open position with Integrate at the beginning of 2020. We were looking for a QA Engineer Intern, and as a part of our partnership, Integrate provided HireVue with the full suite of their services; assessment, training, recruiting and on-boarding/employment support. Fortunately for us, one of the individuals Integrate identified and presented, we ultimately hired - an exceptional intern named Alexa Kruckenberg.

Alexa is a recent graduate from Utah Valley University with a bachelor’s degree in Gaming and Animation. As the world shut down from COVID, Alexa was sent to work from home like the rest of us, and during that tumultuous time, her manager asked her to extend her internship. Alexa accepted the offer with increased responsibilities that included her original QA duties, as well as writing code.

I sat down with Alexa to talk about her interview experience, how she’s adapting to her first (as she puts it) “adult job” and how she’s coping with COVID-19.

Since the first time we talked, I’m excited to update this blog post with the fact that Alexa is now a full-time software engineer on the HireVue team. Hear more about her hiring experience below.

Prior job experience

Alexa had several call center jobs before working at HireVue and before her autism diagnosis at age twenty-two. As she explains, she “hated most of them” because it was hard as someone who “struggles a little bit with social interaction, like having to be turned on in that way for eight hours a day.” Since her diagnosis and with the support of counseling through vocational rehabilitation programs, Alexa better understands how to find a job that fits her needs and interests.

Interview prep

Most of the interview prep done in programs like vocational rehab is focused on the face-to-face interview and crafting a cover letter and resume. This more traditional type of prep was what Alexa had before she experienced her first HireVue interviews and assessments with Integrate. When asked how she felt about the virtual process, she thought, “This is so cool. Like, why isn’t everybody doing this?”

The virtual interview experience

For Alexa, the appeal of a virtual interview and game-based assessments is two-fold: the process appealed to her interests as a developer and provided her some relief as a person on the spectrum. While recording her OnDemand interviews, she explained that it was nice not to have to “vamp” or pretend that an interviewer was asking a thoughtful question, and if she gave an answer she didn’t like, she was able to try again.

Best Practices Guidelines

A major milestone in our partnership with Integrate is the creation of two best practices documents that we hope to see in wide circulation for employers and candidates alike. 

35% of autistic individuals go on to college/university. The unemployment or underemployment rate for those graduates is between 75-85%.

Video interviewing is here to stay, and companies and candidates need practical guidance.

Tips for employers include things like:

  • Provide a preview of the interview process in print or video form so the candidate can put their best foot forward
  • Share your questions prior to the interview so that candidates on the spectrum can prepare and will feel more comfortable
  • Provide a point of contact in case candidates need explanation or assistance

And tips for candidates include things like:

  • How to disclose the need for an accommodation
  • Ask for questions in advance
  • How to ensure that interview tech (audio, webcam) are properly set up

How the Documents Were Created

HireVue provided insight into interviewing best practices based on our work delivering over 20 million interviews for our customers, and on input from our team of IO psychologists. Integrate provided recommendations for how companies can tailor their hiring practices to prevent the exclusion (often inadvertent) of applicants who have autism. Integrate also contributed their deep expertise on interview and work challenges faced by neurodivergent candidates.

Both documents were also extensively reviewed by neurodivergent candidates, including Alexa. Alexa said that even having a company provide her with a Tips for Autistic Candidates document would make her feel more comfortable about disclosing her diagnosis.

I think being provided with the candidate document prior to an interview would definitely make me more likely to disclose my autism diagnosis. I feel like it shows that the company providing it is aware of neurodivergent candidates and is actively trying to make the hiring process more accessible.

And even with all of the extensive interview training Alexa has gone through, she was eager to point out how helpful the documents were in providing specific information on disability disclosure. “I've always been extremely hesitant to disclose my disability due to fear of discrimination, but the guide on how/when and to whom to disclose a disability definitely helped clear up some of that uncertainty.”*

If you’re in charge of hiring for an organization or if you’re a neurodivergent candidate, we invite you to download, explore, and share our tips documents. Working together at making interviewing and hiring more comfortable for and inclusive of neurodivergent candidates is good for everyone involved.

Have a question or a tip of your own? We invite you to send it to diversity@hirevue.com.

Download Interviewing Tips Download Hiring Tips

*Just like neurotypical candidates, an autistic person’s preferences for interviewing come down to their individual comfort. Also, the decision to disclose an autism diagnosis to a potential employer is a personal one. This decision is best made after talking with someone who knows you well and is familiar with the dynamics of the employment world e.g., a trusted advisor, parent, or career counselor. We recommend you contact your recruiting point of contact early on in the process and before your interview. An email or a phone call sharing your diagnosis, along with some insight into how your autism impacts you in the interview process, and the accommodations you are seeking is appropriate. 

Visit here for additional information on disclosure. 

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