When assessing sift questions reviewers are sometimes drawn to excellent writing skills. But writing skills don’t matter for every role. Here’s what you can do:
Design a process that de-emphasises ‘great writing’
If writing skills don’t matter, both your reviewers and your candidates should know this!
- Instruct your reviewers well: Many of us have grown up applying to jobs with CVS and cover letters that needed to be free of any errors. We may therefore have a tendency to judge mistakes harshly. Mistakes seem to tell us that the candidate either didn’t care enough, isn’t conscientious enough or just not capable. If you are willing to accept candidates that make mistakes in their spelling or grammar but get the key message across, tell your reviewers! Tell them to mark on content, not expression.
- Guide candidates how to answer: You can alleviate some of the burden on candidates to provide a perfect piece of writing. For example, by telling them to respond in bullet point format. Or telling them that you will assess [insert skill] but not their writing style. It will reassure candidates and often leaves you with more concise answers that are easier to skim for your reviewers.
I want to do more to support neurodiverse candidates. What else can I do?
Neurodiverse candidates may need more support than this. You can consider making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for them. This may involve putting them through a different process that does not require writing answers to hypothetical questions (which some candidates may find challenging). To do this, you need to know who requires these adjustments. So you need to give candidates an opportunity to reach out to you. For example, you could add a link to your website where you explain how candidates with the need for adjustment can get in touch.
You could also add an ‘admin question’ to your Applied application process to ask if reasonable adjustments are needed. However, candidates will see all your questions, no matter what they answer, so you need to make it clear in your text that they are not required to fill them in (if you want to offer a different process for them).
It is up to you how you design that alternative process. We recommend assessing the same skills you assess in the written stage for other candidates.