Business should hire untapped neurodiverse workforce to close tech skill gaps

Organisations across the globe are struggling with a shortage of technical skills, however, improving opportunities for neurominorities could help to close the gap, says recruiting experts, Hays. 

Adults with conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and Tourette syndrome, are hugely underrepresented across many sectors of the jobs market. While many neurodiverse people may find some parts of work and socialising more difficult, neurodivergent conditions can also give individuals particular strengths and attributes that make them unique and valuable. With many sectors experiencing acute skills shortages, making organisations more accessible for neurominorities could be key to plugging the skills gap.  

James Milligan, Global Head of Hays Technology, commented, “The tech industry is only just starting to realise the benefits of embracing a neurodiverse workforce. Autistic people can approach problems differently and can provide extremely creative solutions. There are many benefits that neurodiverse employees can bring to the workforce, particularly in filling technical skills gaps.”  

James continued, “While neurodiverse candidates bring many benefits to the workforce, many interview processes do not give them the best chance of success, as traditional recruitment methods can favour neurotypical candidates and neurominorities can be automatically screened out.”  

James explores some of the issues neurodivergent individuals can face during the recruitment process, and potential solutions.  

1. Issues with the interview process  

Traditional job interviews can be problematic for neurodiverse people, especially those that can struggle to understand social norms and non-verbal communication. However, there are many ways an organisation can adapt its interviewing techniques to help neurodivergent individuals, such as conducting a series of sequential interviews with one interviewer at a time, instead of using a panel of interviewers.   

James added, “There are potential challenges for neurodiverse people in the interview process, but there are steps you can take to make the experience easier. For example, send candidates the questions in advance of the interview. This can provide candidates with the opportunity to give more detailed, quality examples, which can help interviewers to better understand their suitability for a role. As working memory can be an issue for many neurominorities, this simple adjustment can be particularly beneficial.”   

2. Adapt your job interviews  

Traditional interview questions can be difficult for neurodivergent candidates to answer. Organisations should consider changing the nature of questions to make them more manageable for neurominority candidates, including avoiding vague questions and instead focusing on those with a discernible connection to the tech job.   

James said, “Make sure the questions are accessible, for example, instead of “what are you most proud of?”, try to be more specific such as “name a technical problem at work you’ve solved in the last couple of months”. Instead of “tell me about your CV,” ask for specifics from their CV, and so on.”  

3. Get inventive with your interview techniques  

Organisations should consider avoiding traditional interview processes and instead consider work trials, short internships and practical assessments. These provide alternative ways for candidates to showcase their talent and focus on an individual’s ability to perform the specific job role. Organisations can replace psychometric testing, which are often more favourable to the neurotypical cognitive profile, and instead ask candidates to provide examples of their previous work, to help better understand an individual’s fit to the job in question.  

James added, “Regardless of the approach you take, it’s important to consider what you are trying to get from the process. A standardised recruitment process for every role may not ultimately lead to the best candidates. Think about what the role needs and how you can identify those skills in a candidate, without putting unnecessary barriers in the way.”  

4. Help candidates and interviewers prepare  

It’s important that organisations prepare candidates for the selection process and provide them with clear information on what the process involves, avoiding any ambiguity in its instructions.  

James commented, “If you intend to ask the candidate to complete a coding test, for example, make them aware of this part of the interview and, if possible, provide them with a way to get to grips with your coding environment before the interview. Also, consider consulting with neurodiversity experts to help your interviewers prepare for interviewing and hiring neurodivergent individuals. Otherwise, they could – consciously or unconsciously – make negative judgements on an applicant’s suitability for a role.”  

5. Consider the wording of your job adverts  

Job adverts need to be precise, clear and free of jargon. Organisations should include a diversity and inclusion statement in job descriptions, stating they are happy to discuss reasonable adjustments to help candidates.   

James added, “When writing job adverts, consider the skills attributes that are really necessary for the role, rather than listing generic skills. By including unnecessary requirements, you could end up losing out on the strongest candidates.”  

Hiring neurodivergent tech professionals can have a positive effect on an organisation’s entire workforce, bringing a whole pool of untapped talent into the industry at a time when the digital skills gap is at an all-time high.  

James closed by saying, “If you want to start hiring a neurodiverse workforce, the first step for many tech businesses is to engage with specialists in this field, make sure any supplier has both professional and HR credentials and can also ‘walk their own talk’ by being a neuro-inclusive employer themselves.”  


About Hays Singapore
Hays Specialist Recruitment Pte Ltd, Singapore ("Hays Singapore") is one of Singapore's leading recruitment companies in recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions.

Hays has been in Singapore for over a decade and boasts a track record of success and growth. We operate across the private and public sector, dealing in permanent, temporary and contracting positions in more than 15 different specialisms, including Accountancy & Finance, Banking & Financial Services, Engineering, Human Resources, Legal, Life Sciences, Marketing & Digital, Office Professionals, Procurement, Supply Chain, Sales and Technology. Hays Singapore was named the “Best Small Workplace” in Singapore in 2019 and 2018 and was ranked fourth “Best Multinational Workplace” in Asia 2020 by Great Place to Work.

About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2021 the Group employed c.12,100 staff operating from 254 offices across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2021:

  • the Group reported net fees of £918.1 million and operating profit of £95.1 million;
  • the Group placed around 60,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 220,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 17% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 34% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 61% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 39% of net fees;
  • Technology is the Group’s largest specialism, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (12%), are the next largest