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Neuroinclusive Interviews: How to identify the right talent for your organization


  • The high stakes of recruitment interviews and the need to move beyond surface-level responses.

  • The concept of neuroinclusive interviews as a structured, data-driven approach to evaluate candidates.

  • Accommodations as a fundamental aspect of creating an inclusive interview environment.

  • Looking beyond traditional cues like eye contact and body language in assessing candidates.

  • Providing post-interview feedback for neurodivergent candidates.

  • Structured interviewing stages, including initial screening, focused interviews, and final round project-based assessments.

  • Emphasizing the simulation of real-world working scenarios in the final round of interviews.

In the realm of recruitment, the stakes of an interview are high. Decisions are made within the constraints of limited time, often based on first impressions. However, the dynamics of the future of work demand a shift. Recognizing the limitations of this approach — where candidates are often well-rehearsed in providing 'right' answers — it becomes imperative to go beyond surface-level responses.


How can we ensure that the stories shared reflect genuine contributions rather than sheer luck?

A group of people at a conference room.

Enter the neuroinclusive interview. This method champions a structured approach, advocating for data-driven insights into a candidate's longstanding performance, rather than mere moments. By transitioning from passive observation to active exploration, interviewers can extract tangible evidence of a candidate's track record, painting a clearer picture of their potential fit within the team.


This guide will elucidate the importance of neuroinclusive interviews, providing you with methods for objective evaluation over assumptions. Dive deep as we provide actionable steps to refine the process, ensuring every candidate is given a fair, holistic assessment. 

Attached, you’ll find a template designed to streamline your interview stages (linked here), ensuring that pertinent questions target the right goals for each candidate. Join us on this journey to revolutionize the way we approach interviews, ensuring inclusivity, accuracy, and fairness.

Navigating Neurodivergence: Bias-Free Interviewing Techniques

  • Accommodations are Fundamental


Before an interview commences, ensure you've asked if the interviewee requires any accommodations. Whether it's a quiet space, longer time to respond, or frequent breaks, understanding and providing these needs can level the playing field.

  • Look Beyond Traditional Cues

Communication styles, body language, and appearances can vary significantly across individuals. While traditional interviewing may prioritize a firm handshake or direct eye contact, it's essential to understand that neurodivergent individuals may communicate differently. Avoid forming judgments based on:


  • Eye contact consistency

  • Stance and posture

  • Gestures and hand movements

  • Direction of feet and overall body orientation

  • Clarity is Key

  • In person: Handshake firmness or whether they can’t give handshake

Two men shaking hands.

Ambiguity can be a challenge, particularly for neurodivergent candidates.

Ensure questions are:


  • Specific rather than open-ended

  • Presented one at a time to cater to those with short-term memory challenges, ADHD, and other cognitive differences

  • Sensory Sensitivities:


Neurodivergent individuals, particularly those on the autism spectrum, might have heightened or reduced sensory sensitivities. Lighting, ambient noise, or even the texture of furniture can be distracting or uncomfortable for some. Consider asking candidates if there are specific environmental factors they'd like to be adjusted, especially if the interview is conducted in person.

  • Flexible Communication Methods:


Recognize that verbal communication might not be the preferred or most effective means of communication for everyone. Some candidates might feel more comfortable responding in writing or using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices, or have slower processing speeds and require additional time to formulate responses. Be patient and open to allowing this, speed is not indicative of skill level.

  • Post-interview Feedback:


Neurodivergent individuals often appreciate direct and constructive feedback. After the interview, offer insights on what they did well and areas they could potentially improve upon. This feedback can be invaluable for their future endeavors.

Structured Interviewing: From Screening to Skill Assessment

1  Initial Screening: Laying the Groundwork

A group of people sitting in a conference room.

The initial screening is the preliminary step to identify potential fits for the role. This 15-30 minute interview, ideally conducted over the phone, focuses on:

Verifying basic qualifying factors

The initial screening interview is a pivotal step in the recruitment process, chiefly conducted by the recruiter to assess if a candidate's qualifications match the role. Before this, the team should agree on essential qualifying 

criteria, ensuring alignment with the job scorecard/job spec (see our article on team alignment for Job Descriptions)


This brief 15-30min phone call serves to filter out unsuitable candidates to save time and setting an inclusive tone for potential hires. For consistent evaluation, it's essential that all screeners follow a structured interview format, using a standardized set of questions for every candidate.


Example introduction: “I am really looking forward to our time together. I’d like to spend the first twenty minutes of our call getting to know you. After that, I am happy to answer any questions you have so you can get to know us. Sound good?”

2   Focused Interviews: Delving Deeper

Once the candidate clears the screening, it's time for a more detailed evaluation. Assign multiple interviewers from the most relevant teams (ideally those that will be interfacing most with this candidate’s function) to assess the candidate based on different aspects of the job scorecard/spec. The key areas to cover include:


  • Past performance (prioritizing work history and tangible achievements)

  • Domain knowledge and expertise

  • Company culture fit

  • Leadership skills (for managerial roles)

  • Motivation and alignment with the company's values and mission

  • Work style compatibility

  • Team-building and management abilities


You can track who on your team evaluates for each of these on the following template tracker.

Final Round: The Project-Based Interviews

For a comprehensive assessment, simulate a real-world working scenario. This not only provides insights into the candidate's skillset but also gives the candidate a glimpse of the working environment. Here, candidates can:


  • Engage with actual tasks they'd encounter on the job

  • Collaborate with potential team members

  • Experience the workplace dynamics (even if virtually)

A group of business people in front of a large screen.

Example: For a software engineer role, have candidates debug a piece of code or work on a mini-project related to what they'd be handling. For a marketing role, candidates can design a mock campaign or provide insights into an existing one.


To learn more about Best Practices for Project-Based Interviews, click this link → Project Based Interviews

Headshot of Jhillika Kumar.

About the Author

Jhillika is the CEO and cofounder at Mentra, a fellow neurodivergent, Forbes 30 under 30 Social Impact awardee, honorary degree recipient and TEDx speaker for diversity and neuro-inclusion. Her experiences as the sister of a non-speaking autistic individual served as a catalyst for Jhillika to cofound Mentra— empowering companies to tap into the talents of those who society often overlooks… the neurodiverse.

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