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Interviewing Neurodivergent Candidates

A neurodiverse candidate is someone who has a neurodiverse condition such as autism, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Tourette’s syndrome, and/or other neurological conditions. At Bridge, when aware of a condition we can be proactive by offering neurodiverse candidates a personalized interviewing experience which can help them be open about their requirements and perform to their full potential both at interview and in a role.

Methods and Considerations


  • Consider the interviewing environment - Noisy, distracting settings can be uncomfortable for those with sensory processing issues. Choose a quiet location without clutter, distraction or harsh lighting. Due to stigmatization, candidates may not speak openly about their needs. Despite this, employers who offer candidates noise-cancelling headphones or a quiet workspace show them that they are in a welcoming working environment.

  • Check your social expectations - Interviews can often have elements of measuring social competence as well as a candidate's ability to perform specific tasks. Candidates with neurodiversity may not be able to follow social norms carefully, and some candidates may have trouble making eye contact, be prone to fidgeting, or exhibit physical tics. Unless the position requires social cues, avoid letting small social missteps impact your decision making or distract you.

  • Avoid panel interview or large groups - Neurodiverse candidates may find elements of social interaction challenging, particularly in a larger group setting. If the interview process includes several stakeholders, schedule sequential separate interviews, rather than conducting a panel. This will allow the candidate to be interviewed by different parties without becoming overwhelmed.

  • Be aware that the candidate may interpret language literally – for example asking, “How did you find your last job?” may result in an answer of “I looked on the map” or “I looked in the paper, sent for the application form and completed it”.

  • Be patient - if a candidate takes longer to consider their answer and possibly clarify if they understand after a pause, do not interrupt as a neurodivergent candidate may take longer to consider their answers.

  • Politely tell the candidate if they are talking too much - this can especially apply if the candidate has ADHD. If you suspect that they are talking too much, say something like “Thank you. You have told me enough about that now. I would like to ask you the next question now please.”

  • Interview questioning & Neurodiversity - The nature of the questions we ask in interviews can also disadvantage neurodiverse candidates. It is important that when interviewing candidates with a neurodiverse condition that we consider and plan our questions in advance.

  • Start with an ice breaker question - this will help make the candidate feel more comfortable – A good example would be to ask about their expert interests, you will see neurodiverse candidates come into their own talking about their passions.

  • Ask closed or direct questions - for example “Tell me about any jobs/voluntary work you have done in the last five years”. Try to avoid open questions (for example “Tell me about yourself”), where the candidate may not be able to judge exactly what you want to know.

  • Focus questions on the candidates’ real/past experiences and skills – asking questions related to skills or experiences that a candidate has actually experienced will allow them to relate more clearly without confusion.  Example, “In your last job, did you do any filing or data input?’; ‘What processes/procedures did you create or use for this?”.

  • Avoid hypothetical or abstract questions - to minimize confusion, avoid asking vague or potentially misleading questions. A neurodiverse candidate may interpret your word choice literally, so avoid the use of potentially confusing language such as idioms or metaphors. Example – “How do you think you’ll cope with working if there are lots of interruptions?” — a better question would be “Think back to your last job. Can you tell us how you coped with your work when people interrupted you?”

  • Avoid asking questions with social que needs - asking what someone else may think or do for example “what would you supervisor say about you”.

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