Best Practices in HR

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Melissa Dobbins
  October 14, 2018

Is your hiring process open to those with disabilities?

Think about your current hiring process – from application to interview to offer. Maybe you’ve built in some timed assessments to put candidate skills to the test. Maybe you placed a lot of emphasis on their interpersonal skills when you meet them face to face, because you want to make sure they’ll fit in with the team. You’ve designed it to find the ideal person for the job.
Now imagine that you are applying, i.e. going through the process. Would you get the job at the end of the process? Probably, since you know what and how to answer. But let’s look at it, honestly, from the outside.

Imagine you’re blind. Or dyslexic. Or on the autism spectrum.

Would you still get the job? Or would the process itself bar you from entry before you even had the chance to showcase your skills?

If your hiring process isn’t reasonably accommodating, you might be unintentionally inviting bias in (as well as being non-compliant)—and missing out on top talent. If a person meets the core requirements, having a disability shouldn’t prevent them from competing on the same playing field as other candidates for the same position.

Here are a few ways to check that your process is designed to set all qualified candidates up for the same opportunity for success—and a few tips to make it more accommodating.

Core requirements or just nice to have?

What is the first and most crucial step you can take to eliminate bias and make reasonable accommodation to your process and find more qualified candidates? Make sure that the core requirements are really requirements for the role.

It might seem intuitive. But look closer and you’ll find that the requirements sections of countless job descriptions are riddled with traits, skills, and qualifiers that might be nice to have but are in no way required to excel in the role. This can make it difficult or even impossible for disabled candidates to get through the hiring process without being arbitrarily disqualified—even if they’d be a great fit.

Let’s say you’re hiring for a copy editor. For years, your requirements section might have called for someone self-motivated, comfortable with working flexible hours, and able to juggle competing deadlines—because that’s just the norm for a job like this. But when you stop to think about it, is the job actually like that? Could someone who benefits from structure and predictability actually be a great fit?

If so, those traits aren’t really core requirements. And including them in your job descriptions could keep qualified candidates with autism or ADHD from ever applying, let alone making it through a process which eliminates them because of their disabilities.

Some requirements, on the other hand, are there for a reason. If you’re hiring a bus driver, for example, you need someone with a driver’s license. That rules out blind candidates.

Job requirements that bar candidates who can do the job from getting the job, including those that create barriers for those with disabilities, are non-compliant and will lead to liability issues.

Fairness for all

Ten equally qualified candidates have decided to apply for your job. One is blind. One is autistic. A third is dyslexic. The others are non-disabled.

Will each of the candidates have the same experience going through your application process? Or will some candidates face more difficulties that others—without that difficulty having any bearing on their skills?

It could be something as simple as a timer on a skills test. The dyslexic and blind candidates may take longer than the others to complete the section, so there’s potential for them to be screened out… even though the timed test doesn’t measure an actual job skill or a fault of the applicant.

Or maybe the application form isn’t mobile-friendly. If the autistic candidate feels more comfortable using their smartphone than a computer keyboard, this puts them at an immediate disadvantage. If the job doesn’t require keyboard use, why should the application process hinge on that requirement?

Focus on the things that matter

It’s time to rethink your hiring process to focus on what really matters—and we can help.

At career.place, we’ve taken steps to build fairness and equality into the hiring process. Our software solution lets you evaluate candidates based on the skills and traits that are required for the role—without potentially biasing distractions that lead to non-fairness or inequality.

Discover it for yourself. Get in touch today and find out how we can help you create a level playing field that lets all candidates show you what they’ve got.