How HireVue is using tech to bridge the employment gap for autistic, other neurodivergent job hunters


In celebration of Autism Acceptance Month last month, professional services company HireVue tried to do its part to raise awareness of the importance of neurodiversity in the workplace. The company bills itself as helping companies gain a competitive edge, talent-wise, by providing them with “video interview software, conversational AI, and pre-hire assessments.” Modernizing the interview process with numerous high-tech solutions, HireVue boasts that it has hosted more than 37 million video interviews and 250 million chat-based candidate engagements for more than 850 pioneering clients worldwide to date.

In addition to leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, HireVue also specializes in text-based recruiting and video-based interviews. Both methods have enormous potential as assistive technologies for all types of disabilities, not just those who are neurodivergent. The texting component is particularly sharp; as in health care, it also has high relevance in the employment sector.

When it comes to disabilities, HireVue is committed to putting candidates with disabilities at the forefront of the pool, especially those on the autism spectrum. According to a recent report, the autism community is an “extraordinary talent pool,” but one that “remains virtually untapped.” 85% of college graduates with autism are under-employed or unemployed, while 79% of autistic adults only have part-time employment.

“Autistic and neurodivergent candidates are a completely overlooked pool of talent,” Dr. Colin Willis, IO psychology program manager at HireVue, told me in an interview conducted via email last month. “This is not only a crisis from a moral perspective, it is an economic travesty at a time when companies are so desperate to fill roles.”

There is good news to be had. Dr. Willis explained that the way to get autistic people (and others) into the workforce is for companies to do their part to embrace inclusive hiring practices. He said it’s “well documented” that companies that don’t include the disability community in their DEI initiatives are less likely to hire disabled job seekers. In addition, job boards and applications may not be accessible to applicants. “By adopting more inclusive practices, these leaders have an opportunity to truly diversify their workforce,” he said. “These are things that recruiters and hiring managers can change right away!”

When asked how hiring managers can best set autistic people up for success in the interview stage(s), Dr. Willis me that there are many things to do. He highlighted offering a “thorough preview” of the interview stages, allowing video responses to be re-recorded as needed, giving examples of questions, not reading too much into body language, and much more. “For neurodivergent and autistic candidates, having some extra time and resources to help prepare for an interview can make all the difference,” he said. “Neurodivergent candidates often experience heightened anxiety in new and unfamiliar situations, above and beyond that of their neurotypical peers, so some of the best support employers can offer is actually before or during the interview.”

Prioritizing fair and equal access to employment is essential, said Dr. Willis. He noted that several members of HireVue’s science team are “actively involved in research to ensure our technology meets the needs of neurodivergent candidates.”

In terms of feedback, Dr. Willis said that the company’s work, particularly regarding the use of games as an interview technique, was “incredibly well received” by others. He added that HireVue regularly presents its work at various academic conferences, saying the team had “ten accepted submissions in the last four years on the topics of neurodiversity at work and how technology can be used to create more inclusive workplaces making.”

Ultimately, HireVue wants to use its technology to break down barriers and help disabled people find a profit.

“The sheer volume of candidates being overlooked by hiring processes designed with only the neurotypical in mind is just one reason it’s critical that companies start paying more attention to attracting, hiring and retaining people on the autism spectrum,” said Dr. Willis of the possibility. “It’s worth noting that, in addition to the moral imperative of hiring equity, there is evidence that autistic employees are an unmatched and highly qualified workforce because of some candidate’s aptitude for technical skills, attention to detail, reliability and focus.”

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