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Embracing Neuroinclusive Recruitment: Best Practices for Project-Based Interviews


  • The importance of effective candidate assessment in recruitment and the role of project-based interviews.

  • Exploring why project-based interviews are valuable for assessing candidates.

  • Best practices for optimizing project-based interviews

  • The importance of making project-based interviews inclusive for all candidates.

  • How project-based interviews can be tailored to different job roles.

In the ever-evolving landscape of recruitment, the significance of effectively assessing a candidate's skills in real-time scenarios cannot be overstated. One methodology that stands out in its ability to capture this is the project-based interview. It offers a snapshot of how candidates would perform on the job. However, like any tool, its efficacy lies in its application. Let's delve into the best practices that elevate the project-based interview from a mere task to a pivotal moment of mutual discovery between the candidate and the organization.

 A group of people in  a video conference.

Why A Project-Based Interview?

 Two women sitting on a couch talking to each other.

While traditional interviews assess a candidate's past experiences and qualifications, project-based interviews test their problem-solving capabilities, adaptability, and actual job performance. It's a more tangible metric, especially when trying to assess skills that aren't readily apparent in a conversational setting.

In the final stages of recruitment, project-based interviews have proven to be an invaluable tool for assessing a candidate's aptitude in real-world scenarios. But to optimize this approach, there are specific guidelines and best practices that should be kept in mind:

Clear Context and Purpose:

Begin by ensuring that the context for the challenge is clearly presented. Candidates should understand the specific pain-point or objective they are trying to address.

Transparent Instructions:

Clearly outline what's expected of the candidate in terms of deliverables. State how they should present their solutions, be it in a presentation, a report, or via specific software.

Evaluation Criteria:

Share with the candidate the parameters upon which their project will be assessed. This keeps the evaluation process transparent and gives candidates a clearer focus.

Time Management:

Offer multiple scheduling options for the project-based interview, allowing the candidate to select the most convenient one. This demonstrates respect for their time.

Open Communication:

Ensure candidates have a direct line to ask questions, whether about the project, the role, or any accommodations they might need.

Complexity Balance:

The challenge should be intricate enough to test the candidate but not so complex that it feels burdensome or that they are providing "free work."

Timelines and Expectations:


Clearly specify the expected duration for the project. This ensures the candidate can manage their time effectively and that there are aligned expectations between both parties.


If the challenge requires access to specific tools or software, either provide these or clarify the expectation around the candidate using their resources.

Feedback Mechanism:

After the project, always offer feedback, irrespective of the interview outcome. Recognize and respect the effort a candidate puts into the task.

Confidentiality and Usage Rights:

Assure candidates that their project submissions will remain confidential. They must also be informed that their work will not be used for commercial purposes without appropriate compensation or a formal hiring agreement.

Project-based interviews, when effectively executed, provide hiring managers with a practical snapshot of their potential role.

By following the best practices outlined above, the process evolves into a holistic assessment, allowing both the organization and the applicant to determine if they're a mutual fit.

This structured, neuroinclusive approach ensures that interviews are not just a formality but a meaningful exercise to determine the best fit for both the organization and the candidate.

Project-Based Interview in Action: Examples Across Role Types:

  • Recruiters:


Task them with designing a recruitment strategy for a hypothetical role. Assess their research capabilities, outreach strategy, and evaluation techniques.

  • UX Designers:

Present a problem statement, like improving the checkout process for an e-commerce site. Evaluate their approach to user research, design thinking, and solution execution.

  • Software Engineers:


Provide a buggy piece of code or a feature requirement. Gauge their coding, debugging, and problem-solving skills.

"Project-based interviews, when effectively executed, provide hiring managers with a tangible preview of a candidate's alignment with the role's daily tasks. By following a neuroinclusive and structured approach, we ensure that interviews transition from being a mere formality to a meaningful endeavor.

This proactive approach not only ensures a better fit but also streamlines post-hire integration by understanding the individual's work style from the outset.

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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