Did you know, it’s estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK have dyslexia to some degree?
This week marks Dyslexia Awareness Week. This year’s theme is “breaking through barriers”, focusing on the challenges that people with dyslexia often need to overcome.
In this blog post, we’ll be looking at some of the barriers that candidates with dyslexia may face during the recruitment process. We will also provide some tips on how you can make your recruitment processes more inclusive for candidates with dyslexia. Keep reading to find out more…
What is dyslexia?
According to the British Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is defined as a neurological difference. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty which can create problems with writing, reading and spelling. It is about information processing, meaning that those with dyslexia may face challenges with how they remember and process information. Different people will have different experiences of dyslexia and it can range from mild to severe. Dyslexia is a lifelong condition.
It’s important to mention that dyslexia does not impact a person’s intelligence. In fact, there can be many positives to thinking differently and those with dyslexia often excel in areas such as creative thought, problem solving and spatial awareness.
Dyslexia and the recruitment process
Dyslexia can impact someone’s ability to do well in the recruitment process due to the barriers they may need to overcome. For example, someone with dyslexia may find it more challenging than those without dyslexia to prepare a CV or cover letter, to process a job description, or to perform well in traditional forms of assessment such as multiple choice and psychometric tests, particularly those involving a time limit. They may also face challenges surrounding memory recollection and verbalisation, potentially making interviews more difficult.
To be more inclusive, employers should consider how they can break down these barriers so that candidates with dyslexia can perform to the best of their abilities during the recruitment process.
Making the recruitment process more inclusive
Here are some simple practical tips to consider using in your organisation’s recruitment systems.
- Encourage everyone to apply. Make it clear that your organisation welcomes applications from anyone who has the relevant experience, skills and qualifications. Similarly, you should highlight in a job advert that you will make reasonable adjustments as necessary, and provide the contact details of someone who can discuss such adjustments with candidates. Doing this will hopefully empower more people to apply and encourage those with dyslexia to disclose this when applying.
- Review your careers page. Take a look at your website careers page and consider whether it is accessible. Some types of content and/or presentation styles may present challenges for those who are neurodivergent. Try to use font size and colour as tools to make your content more accessible.
- Keep your job adverts clear. Review your job adverts and ensure they are well structured and easy to follow. Using clear and concise language and bullet points, and making key details obvious, can make a job advert more accessible for those with dyslexia. You should also consider the font type and size and layout you are using. The more accessible the job advert, the wider the pool of candidates is likely to be.
- Send out a “next steps” email or letter. If a candidate is successful at the application stage, clear instructions about the next steps should be sent out. This could include informing candidates about what to expect on interview day, giving directions to the office, or providing the names of the interviewers. Information like this helps set a lot of candidates’ minds at ease, but is particularly useful for many neurodivergent candidates including those who have dyslexia. Candidates can again be encouraged, in this communication, to request reasonable adjustments if they need them.
- Review your assessment process. Standardised psychometric testing and multiple-choice questions can be daunting for those with dyslexia, especially if a fixed timeframe is involved. You could consider moving away from these traditional testing methods and instead opt for tests which will enable those who are dyslexic to better showcase their skills. For example, you could ask candidates to submit a portfolio of work or to explain their answer out loud rather than writing it down if they’d prefer.
- Allow extra time if necessary. As part of the recruitment processes you might want candidates to complete a time-sensitive task. If you do, then you should allow those who have dyslexia to have extra time as is necessary. According to Dyslexia Scotland, for a written task 25% extra time is normal.
- Make reasonable adjustments. You should make reasonable adjustments to the recruitment process so that those with dyslexia can successfully showcase their skills and competencies. If a certain adjustment will be made in the job, then this should generally be made in the recruitment process too. It is also worth remembering that people with dyslexia have different needs. As such, you should ensure that the assessment process is catered to the individual candidate.
- Be mindful during the interview. When interviewing a candidate with dyslexia it is important to consider that they may need time and (head) space to process information and devise their answers, especially when asked questions on the spot. It is worth bearing in mind that the stress of an interview situation can compound the challenges faced by dyslexic candidates and so being kind and patient will help a candidate to find their flow and settle into the interview process.
- To overcome some of these issues, you could consider providing interview questions in advance; allowing notes to be taken into the interview; and ensuring your questions are clear and concise (for example, two separate shorter questions can be much clearer than a single “compound” question that introduces multiple issues at once). You should also give those with dyslexia plenty of time to process and answer questions, make it clear that you are happy for them to take their time, and be prepared to repeat or further explain your questions.
- Be well informed on dyslexia. It is important to make sure that anyone involved in the recruitment process is well informed and trained on the issues surrounding dyslexia. Being more knowledgeable will also enable a more informed decision to be made about the applicant’s potential.
Why does it matter?
Using the above tips will help to break down barriers that those with dyslexia may face during the recruitment process. These tips are not expensive, overly time-consuming or challenging to implement. In fact, they are small steps which if taken can make a huge difference to candidates with dyslexia and will make the overall recruitment process more inclusive.
Not only will a more inclusive recruitment process benefit the candidate, but it will benefit your organisation too. It should hopefully enable you to employ a more diverse workforce. A more diverse workforce can bring lots of benefits – more creative ideas, unique skill sets, improved company culture and increased productivity.
If you have dyslexia and would like to meet with others in a similar position, then why not consider joining IP Ability? This is our supportive and informative community which focuses on issues relating to disability, neurodiversity and health conditions of all kinds. It also supports IP professionals in caring roles (for example, those looking after children with dyslexia). You can find out more about how to join and get involved on the IP Ability webpage. As with all our communities, you are welcome to get involved as an ally as well.
- British Dyslexia Association (2022) – https://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/
- Katherine Kindersley (2020) Making Recruitment More Inclusive for Dyslexic Professionals – https://www.hrreview.co.uk/analysis/katherine-kindersley-making-recruitment-more-inclusive-for-dyslexic-professionals/128931
- Succeed with Dyslexia (2021) Let’s Change the Recruitment Process for the Better –https://www.succeedwithdyslexia.org/blog/neurodiversity-lets-change-the-recruitment-process-for-the-better/
- Robert Walters Group, Neurodiversity: Four Ways to Debias your Recruitment Process – https://www.robertwaltersgroup.com/news/expert-insight/careers-blog/neurodiversity-four-ways-to-debias-your-recruitment-process.html
- Kate Griggs (2022) Why HR Should Tailor Recruitment Process to Candidates with Dyslexia – https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1755077/why-hr-tailor-recruitment-process-candidates-dyslexia#:~:text=The%20recruitment%20process%20just%20isn,dyslexia%20at%20an%20unfair%20disadvantage.
- Dyslexia Scotland: Applications and Interviews: A Guide for Employers – https://dyslexiascotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/ApplicationsInterviewsEmployerInfo-1.pdf