Organisations who are committed to hiring the best talent and building a diverse workforce, should be considering candidate experience and how to make the recruitment process more accessible to all variations of candidates – including those with disabilities. The current disability employment gap sits at approximately 30%, and many of those who are unemployed face a number of different barriers when it comes to securing a new role.
Most accommodations will cost you little or nothing to make and will open up your hiring process to a much more diverse range of candidates. A recruitment process that isn’t inclusive is fraught with bias and will ultimately have a negative impact on the organisation. Accommodations can be made in every stage of the process, so we’ve outlined some of the most important aspects to consider:
Applicants with disabilities or those who require reasonable adjustments can often be put off from applying for a role based on what is outlined in the job listing – especially the ‘person requirements’. The two main considerations in your job listings are:
- Voice your commitment to being an inclusive employer and willingness to make adjustments
- Ensure all role and person requirements are absolutely necessary
Ensuring that candidates know you’re willing to make reasonable adjustments in the hiring process means they’re more likely to apply and communicate any issues they may have. Afterall, you can only make adjustments in scenarios that you’re aware of, and you can’t outright ask candidates about any health problems or disabilities.
You also need to think carefully about your requirements for a role. A commonly used example is that some roles, such as delivery drivers, clearly require a driving license. Other roles which require occasional travel for meetings are often listed with “full driving license required” in the job description, even though alternative travel arrangements are completely feasible. Many people with disabilities are exempt from obtaining a driving license but are still very capable of travelling.
As we previously mentioned, voicing your willingness to make adjustments in the hiring process will put you in a good position for knowing what changes need to be made for certain candidates. When they’ve voiced their concerns, it’s likely that they’ve also voiced the most suitable format for their application. The most common adjustments are:
- Make the vacancy available in different formats, e.g. large print, audio
- Allow candidates to submit applications in a format suitable to them – a standard online application form does not have to be mandatory, and may be as simple as allowing the submission of a CV rather than manually completing a form.
Assessments, such as psychometric tests, are a widely used method for many organisations. Computer based tests should be accessible to all candidates, which includes aspects like making sure they’re available in a variety of different formats.
It’s also important to consider in many circumstances, an online test will not be an accurate representation of how a candidate will perform. Unless it’s a scenario where the test is absolutely necessary, such as testing technical abilities in software engineers, you should always consider different ways of assessing candidates. Reasonable adjustments in the assessment phase can include:
- Extended time to complete assessments, commonly used for candidates with learning difficulties
- Provide alternative formats, e.g. audio, large print, or braille
- Ensure that all mandatory assessments are completely relevant to a candidates ability to perform well in the role
- Offer alternative forms of assessment
- Removing excessive visuals from assessment materials
This stage in the process will vary for each candidate. Some may be more comfortable with a telephone interview, some may be more comfortable with a one-way video interview or a live video interview, and others may be disadvantaged by both. If you use any of these methods in your recruitment process, it’s important to consider removing this stage for anyone who would not be able to participate properly.
A great way to combat any difficulties in this stage is to allow your candidates to provide written answers to the questions you plan on asking in a telephone interview or video interview. This allows them to communicate their answers when they might struggle communicating them verbally, while still providing them with the opportunity to answer the same questions as other candidates.
For many, a face-to-face interview can be the most challenging stage of a recruitment process. A good example of a reasonable adjustment is one organisation who allowed a candidate to summarise their ideas for a role on a single side of A4 at the end of an interview, to allow them to put forward ideas they may have had difficulty communicating during the interview. Other considerations include:
- Changes in location, e.g. ensuring those with mobility issues have access to the location
- Environmental adjustments, e.g. ensuring a quiet, distraction free environment with good lighting
- One-on-one interviews, rather than panels
- Including a current employee who requires adjustments in the interview process
Of course, what we’ve covered here isn’t an exhaustive list and it’s important to communicate with the candidate to understand any specific requirements they may have. Discrimination protections apply to your job applicants, not just your employees, so adopting a hiring process that actively excludes people with different forms of difficulties and disabilities can do some serious damage to your employer brand.
While you can’t outright ask a candidate about their medical history or any disabilities they may have, you simply have to ask whether any reasonable adjustments need to be made. Failing to accommodate reasonable adjustments is one of the most common types of disability discrimination at work, so it’s better to resolve issues before they even arise.